Matching the Stain on Manufactured Cabinets

Large suppliers can supply you with the same stain they used on pieces you purchase. December 30, 2005

Is it difficult to match the quality of finish on a cabinet from a semi-custom cabinet supplier (Kraftmaid, Woodmode, etc.)?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor D:
Not if you have a bit of experience with color matching and conversion varnish.

From the original questioner:
I have to build an over-range hood vent to match the cabinets I just installed (cherry with a cherry finish). I imagine I could get the color pretty close eventually, but I don't think I could get the clear looking as great. What is conversion varnish?

From contributor C:
I usually just order a can of the stain from the manufacturer to match the finish. I spray the stain on because most of these big operations do it that way, and I get a perfect match. A couple coats of a good post-cat lacquer, and I'm good to go.

From contributor G:
Why not order a range hood to match the cabs?

From contributor S:
You need to keep in mind that cherry darkens considerably with exposure to light. It "suntans", for lack of a better word. If the existing cabinetry has been in the home for awhile, it's likely to have suntanned quite a bit. If you match this suntanned color, your new hood won't match in a year or so because it will have started out darker and kept getting darker with exposure. In these situations, I explain to the customer and let them decide if you should match the existing color or the original color so they end up the same over time. It often doesn't matter that much to them, and since they'll look at it everyday, they may never even notice the difference.

From contributor B:
Not sure about those companies specifically, but we sell some other cabinet lines as well as our own and you can ship anything you like to them and they will finish it to match a project that they built.

From the original questioner:
Unfortunately, I can't order a hood because the cabinet line I install (Woodmode/Brookhaven) has about a 4 week turn around, if you're lucky. And they close on the house in 3 weeks. The hood wasn't ordered with the cabinets because there was confusion between the builder and the cab company about whether the hood would be made of drywall or finished wood. Shipping the hood that I am building to the cabinetmaker would have an astronomical cost... This hood has to be tall enough to reach a 12 ft ceiling. It looks like I'm going to order the same stain straight from the cabinetmaker and cross my fingers that I can make it match. Any advice on the best way to apply the stain and finish?

From contributor B:
Call the cabinet company and tell them you need to match this job. You should be able to order all materials. Stain, sealer, topcoat, etc.

From contributor G:
Ask for a finishing schedule, too.

From the original questioner:
They only sell finished materials. Any materials you order take at least 4 weeks, because everything is made to order. Items like stain only take 5 days to deliver.