Slowing Cherry's Color Change

you can slow it down, but you can't stop it. Here's a collection of ideas. March 9, 2008

What will stop cherry from darkening under a clear finish?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor T:
Nothing. If you want a cherry look without darkening, use alder.

From contributor H:
Total darkness will slow the process! Use a lighter wood and stain it.

From the original questioner:
Your answers were what I already knew, but had to ask anyway. I told customer cherry would turn, also showed them a door in the showroom that had turned, and they asked if I would check to see if there was something I could do different to stop it (other than staining it). So, I did what I was asked... I asked the pros. Thanks for the replies.

From contributor A:
Using a waterborne with high UV absorbers will slow the cherry from changing colours. The second thing you need to do is put a UV film on the windows of the room. Waterbornes often look dead on freshly sanded cherry, so a coat of shellac or clear stain first will give you that rich look of a solvent finish.

From contributor F:
There are solvent based clear finishes that incorporate UV inhibitors as well, so water based is not your only option. However, no clear finish will stop the color change. All it can do is slow it down. Even if you black out all the windows, eventually Mother Nature will have her way. If your customers just can't live with it, the only option is to use a different wood.

From contributor C:
Just stain it a light color like a thinned out fruitwood or something along those lines.

From contributor R:
Use maple and stain or go with plastic laminate. I love the way cherry darkens. They could also go with black walnut which starts out dark, and then lightens to a cool orange color over time.

From contributor E:
Another wood that looks a lot like cherry is poplar. If you're going to stain it a somewhat dark color, I mean.

From contributor M:
A tinting toner of a flesh (pinkish) color that is made up from white and burnt sienna paste pigmented colorants, then sealed, followed by a van dyke brown glaze, and then a vdb shading stain. The customer will forget all about cherry darkening, as long as the pieces are not in direct sunlight.

From contributor Y:
There are many ways to handle this. Contributor M has one of the best old proven methods. This method has been used in factories for many decades. Other suggestions are: 1) bleach the wood, then apply a cherry dye stain of color choice. 2) Treat the natural cherry with HALS to stop the lignin from lightening/fading on dark woods or darkening on light woods - though this is not as permanent as the bleaching method.