Dark stain for cabinets

buchanajNovember 5, 2012

I'm trying to select stain color for my cabinets. Right now, we have selected knotty alder cabinets. I want a really dark brown stain . . . not black . . . but dark. I've attached link to a picture of what I'm wanting. The builder uses Sherwin Williams wood stains. Any idea what sort of color I would need to use to get this look? Will knotty alder stain dark like this? I can switch to another kind of wood (maple, ash, oak) but, if I can get the knotty alder to look like this, I'd prefer to stick with it.


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Sophie Wheeler

Why go to the expense of the upgrade to knotty alder only to stain them so dark that you won't be able to see the knots and grain? The reason people choose knotty alder is to be able to see the beauty of the wood---in a light stain.

If you want super dark cabinets, then go with a basic oak and Java from General Finishes. And find another cabinet maker if this one doesn't know which products to use and doesn't offer you sample finishes from which to choose from. He's NOT a custom cabinet maker. Just some "cabinet guy" that your builder found for cheap.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 9:41AM
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I don't know anything about how wood species will take stain, but the best way to know for sure is to have your cabinet maker do tests of each dark stain on the knotty alder to see what works. You might want to test the stain on various species of wood in case you like a dark stain better on something besides knotty alder.

I have a medium/dark stain on my cabinets and they are cherry wood. The stain was a custom mix from my cabinet maker - she had several sample panels made up for for me.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 10:19AM
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Yes, you should have been provided with samples of finished work. As in completely finished doors in the species and stain being discussed. Anything less raises some BIG RED FLAGS.

I also agree about choosing such a beautiful wood as alder only to obscure it. You might as well be paining them if you want them that dark. Go with the cheapest cabinet wood, oak, and save some money if that's the case.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 10:24AM
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Knotty alder will absolutely take a darker stain, and do so beautifully. We chose a 'darker' cabinet stain to have contrast with the medium brown stained white oak floors, and to counter the color variation (blotching) which can occur with alder. We did specify a wood conditioner as a pre-treatment before staining. The knots are highly visible and the finish to the wood has depth.

In this region, knotty alder is not a premium.

Used 'Old Master' stain. As the OP mentioned, selected stain color was the result of several sample boards.

~Best wishes in your selection.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 9:39AM
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We are doing a clear alder I believe for our cabinets and are doing a dark stain also. Not quite that dark, but darker. I went to the cabinet shop and was able to see a full sample from another kitchen he was working on, and it looked great!

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 10:57AM
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I'm doing pre-finished Knotty Alder in Walnut cabinets made my Medallion.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 11:04AM
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