We did work for a customer last month who called us this week stating, "We do not like the work because we can see the grain of the wood coming through the stain!"
There is nothing wrong with the finish job. All color and finish is uniform, but as with most finishing work, you can see the wood grain coming through.
I want to tell the customer, "Well, you should have painted the wood instead of asking us to stain the wood." How would you handle this?
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor P:
Easy. Provide finish samples with shop drawings for approval. Client to sign off prior to build. If they don't like what they see, don't proceed until you have found something they do like. Good luck next time!
Contributor P is right, a finish sample takes care of this beforehand. At this point, the best course of action is a good sales job. You should wax poetic about what a rich and skillful finish it is; the grain underneath and the texture shows that it's handmade. They certainly wouldn't want it to look too uniform and plasticky, like IKEA... and so on.
Some salesmanship along with some education about wood finishes - I'm thinking that's all you'll need.
We do have samples, and all of them show wood grain. I think we need to change up our stain choice confirmation by not just asking what stain color you would like, but also asking if they'd like standard grain look or a filled look.
After they say they approve of the sample, I ask them to select one that they get to keep. I then hand them a magic marker and have them sign and date the back of the second sample. I tell them that this will be the control sample that will be used in the finish department back at my shop. Included on each sample is some basic information like date, wood species, color, etc. There is enough information to identify the sample, but not give away any secret recipes that I may or may not use (e.g., blotch control, toning). When I get it back to the office, I slip it into a zip-lock bag to keep it clean and prevent any over-spray from getting on it if it does go into the spray booth. Sometimes I have an identical third sample that I can use as well. The signed sample will stay in the job folder forever.
I also explain that wood is a natural product and that the final finish may be a shade or two different in the case of stain grade. Or, if it is paint grade, that I will be spraying the finish so it might appear to be lighter/brighter in color than any matching brushed woodwork that may have already been installed in their home.
This has worked for me. And the client, or their designer, often appreciates having a sizeable (8"x10" or so) color sample that will enable them to pick other room colors, fabrics, etc. This turns a potential misunderstanding/disaster into a win-win for everyone.
Thank you, WOODWEB.
A few years back I worked for a nonprofit, and we had a cabinet shop donate an entire set of doors from an $80,000 job because the homeowner was not happy that they could see grain through the glaze. I am sure on such a job samples were carefully chosen, and signed off and approved. I think the homeowners ate the cost for new doors, and refinishing.
But they are not carpenters. Words like grain (something that describes salt), tint (like the windows on my car), solid tinting (all wood is solid) are lost on our clients. Just read a consumer oriented design magazine. You have to really work hard to extract what they want from their brains. 3D renderings that reflect the actual grain and stain/paint are great tools. The finished sample is the last double check.
To answer your initial question, yes, hundreds of times I have heard people not satisfied with the finish on the cabinetry they received, especially stained wood products. Half of the time it is due to the client not being able to communicate their idea and the carpenter not interpreting their meaning correctly. The other half is the carpenter was unable to produce the finish the client wanted. It can be very difficult to recreate someone else's finish. The third half of the time it is a combination of the two.