Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Can't do that with stain -- oh, my!

Most paint companies can wave their magic wands above a sample of paint, pillow, bedspread, chair, or pretty much anything else, and suddenly they have a formula for matching paint. If only it was that easy with stain.


Stain is matched the old-fashioned way. You must create samples on the actual wood you want to stain. It's helpful when you have scraps to use, or maybe find a hidden spot to use.  It is hard to believe just how different a stain can look on two different woods. This was an understatement with two hardwood floors I looked at two weeks ago. The floors were oak and hickory samples with the same medium brown stain, yet they looked nothing like each other.

Taking all these factors into consideration, it's important to grab a pencil and paper when working to create a sample. Keep track of each step so you can recreate the stain again on a larger scale. (For helpful tips, see Bruce Johnson's Minwax blog titled Custom Mixing Stains.)


  • What did I do on step one? 
  • After drying, what did I do next?  (i.e. add another coat of stain, varnish, etc.)


The color I want in the study is on my bedroom furniture. I know I can take a drawer and go to the paint store, but it's going to be trail and error. I need to plan the trip when the store is not busy in the mornings, which means it is full of painters standing in a line. I was told that I could leave my drawer with them to work on, but somehow that just doesn't make me feel safe. I need this furniture to stay nice.

So, I'm off to see what I can come up with that might be a good stain match. If anyone invents a perfect solution for this, I'd be most grateful!!!

EDIT: February 16, 2015

Our search led us to look for a piece of furniture or small item that has a good stain on it. When we found what we like, we shared it with the painters. Search results are posted here.

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