Staining Maple a Dark Color

Here's a variety of suggestions for getting Maple to take a dark, even stain. July 16, 2012

I have finished my entertainment center and it looks great but I have come to the knowledge that maple is hard to stain and achieve an even color. I didn't know that so I am looking for advice on how to achieve the best results. The color will be a dark espresso. I was advised that amazing stain would do the job but I was told that it is not sold in CA. Please give some detailed processes. I have been suggested to use Minwax wood conditioner followed by Minwax clear wood stain and then the colored stain. Minwax is definitely not my favorite so I am not sure about going this way.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor K:
I would start with Zinsser's Bullseye sealcoat. Then go with one of General Finishes gel coats. The sealcoat will stop most if not all of the blotching, and then to change color you will need to use a gel type stain because the sealcoat won't let the stain soak into the grain. The gel coat or gel stain has a heavier level of pigment and that's what you will need to make maple as dark as you are going for.

From contributor C:
Spray on an appropriate brown dye heavily thinned with methanol in order to get dark enough. Seal coat with acetone reduced sanding sealer. Sand, stain, and top coat.

From contributor R:
Spray light uniform dye coat.

Spray wiping stain and wipe.
Toner coats (tint top coat with dye and reduce it) to even out the color.
Top coats.

From contributor M:
Try Sherwin Williams wiping stain before going through all these other suggestions. It will stain most any wood without blotching. If it doesn't give you the results you want try a thin sealcoat of shellac first.

From contributor V:
We were at a job doing an install a few months back and noticed there was a maple front door unfinished and that the painter was going to stain it dark to match the engineered pre-finished wood floor made from who knows what from you know where. Next thing I know the painter was mixing some color on-site while his helper was wiping down the entire door with a rag soaked in water to raise the grain and help with evenness. I've heard of this and to my disbelief the door was taking stain beautifully and was top coated the next day without toner. The door was a perfect match, dark and beautiful. Maybe someone will jump in who has done these themself.

From contributor C:
Sand to 150 and then sponge like you were raising the grain to re-sand, but don't re-sand. For the expresso look on maple we use a non-polymeric wb dye to get the color started and open the grain followed by a pigment stain.

From contributor W:
Dark brown dye stain (spray).
Sealer (spray).
Black glaze (brush).
Sealer (spray).
Stain (spray if necessary).
Top coat (spray).
Top coat (spray).

Try the finishing system in some pieces of wood panels. Make sure you get the right color before execute the product.