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How to Stain Kitchen Cabinets the Perfect Color

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Robert in Florida needs some help staining cabinets. Tell us what you’re working on.

    ROBERT: I had bought some cabinets – kitchen cabinets – from one of the major hardware stores.

    TOM: OK.

    ROBERT: And they are natural wood, oak face. And I’m looking to stain them like a mahogany color: the dark red.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Right.

    ROBERT: And I’ve tried it on – like the Minwax or whatever stain. I’ve tried that on a spare piece and it doesn’t come out the way I want.

    TOM: OK.

    ROBERT: It doesn’t absorb the color or something. It’s like a brown color instead of the red mahogany-type.

    TOM: OK. You know, the color is going to depend on the species of wood. So, what they might call a mahogany stain is going to look different on oak versus birch versus pine. So what you want to do is – what I would do is – I’m trying to get just the right color – is I would buy those – the tiny cans of Minwax. And I would buy two or three that are closest to the color. I would try them on and also pick up some oak. So you could buy a piece of oak trim or something like that from a home center, that you can play with.

    ROBERT: Right.

    TOM: I would put it on, let it dry. And then – and this is an important step – put a clear finish on top of it. Because it looks very different when the finish is over it than when just the stain color is there.

    ROBERT: Oh, for once you put the seal on it?

    TOM: Correct. Well, the finish. So I would get a small – like I said, two or three cans of the different colors that you’re considering, just to test it out. Buy some oak, go ahead and stain them up and then put a couple of clear coats of urethane on top: satin urethane, so you don’t have a lot of sheen to it.

    ROBERT: Right. I don’t want the shiny, yeah, right. I’ve done two, three, four coats of stain. You wipe it off, you put the clear coat on it and everything. It’s just not right; it doesn’t keep that deep, rich color.

    TOM: Well, typically, you don’t put three or four coats of stain on it. It sounds to me like you’re just not finding the right color. So maybe we need to go to a different manufacturer until we can find the color that you’re looking for, if Minwax isn’t doing it for you.

    ROBERT: Right, right. Because I want it to look professional; I don’t want it to look like I did it in my garage. But of course, I am but …

    TOM: You are doing it in your garage.

    So if you’re not finding the color that you want, that’s available off the shelf with the Minwax products, what you could do is you could use a tintable stain: so, for example, Sherwin-Williams. Do you have a Sherwin-Williams store near you?

    ROBERT: I would have to look it up but …

    TOM: They have a line of stains called Wood Classics. These are oil stains? But the difference is that they mix them for you right in the store. So you can go into the store and you can bring one of your doors and show them the color you’re trying to get to and they can work with you to mix up exactly the right color. So you don’t have to really find one off the shelf; they’ll mix up pretty much anything that you need.

    ROBERT: That’s what I’m looking for.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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