What makes a quality stained finish?

may_flowersFebruary 1, 2013

I read some past threads comparing different cabinet companies and several times I've come across the opinion that one cabinet company has a better finish than another's. What does that really mean? Is it the stain, the technique, something else? I've never stained anything so I'm clueless.

Also, do cherry and alder take a medium-to-dark stain the same? Will one look "better" than the other? I know alder is softer, but it's for a guest bath vanity which will be lightly used.

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When I indicate a better finish I'm referring to: consistancy of color and lack of blotching, thoroughness of sanding which leads to smoothness, and durability which comes from consistnt thickness of top coat.

Both Alder and Cherry stain well.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 7:08PM
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Thank you, jakuvall. So do you notice a huge difference between different cabinet companies? I'm looking at one of the Masterbrand companies just because it's what's in my area without going to a major city. I think the construction is good and we don't need any bells and whistles in a vanity, but we're fussy about appearance.

Does cherry look more luxurious stained than alder? If price weren't a consideration, would it always be better to chose cherry? We'd planned alder but it's less than $100 to use cherry.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 7:35PM
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I likely notice the difference more than some would. The deciding factor is really how it looks to you. With most semi custom brands your getting a good cabinet.
I'm a sucker for cherry.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 3:58PM
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A good finish is stain and then a top coat. The topcoat can be water based topcoat, solvent based, conversion varnish, etc. A good topcoat application makes all the difference.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 4:49PM
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The vanity we're considering is conversion varnish, sixtyohno. Everything that should spell quality construction is there. We have natural cherry kitchen cabinets from a local cabinetmaker and we have stained cherry living room furniture. They're both satiny smooth, so sloppy finishing might really stand out to us.

I love the wood grain of cherry, but I want to get away from the red tones for the vanity. If a darker stain will cover the red in cherry while allowing the wood grain to show, I'd rather get cherry than alder.

So, considering Masterbrand... Can I assume that the finish and construction methods would be the same in all their lines, but what makes Omega/Dynasty "better" than Thomasville, for instance, is you get more options in door styles, paint colors, cabinet sizes, etc.?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 5:51PM
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Thomasville is also sold as Kemper and I believe Decora- both should be less money. All are pocket hole framed construction

Dynasty will have a better finish :)IMO. Think it is also available frameless?? Not sure of the construction uused_ the upper end Omega should be doweled or tenons at the price. Hopefully someone has that info for you.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 9:04AM
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I believe Diamond is the equivalent line, jakuvall. I'm in Oregon and they told me Kemper was made in Southern Oregon. I Googled it and Kemper is made in the city where Diamond originated, so several of these lines might come out of the same plant. Then there's always Schuler at Lowe's, which is also made locally.

I didn't ask enough questions about the box construction of Kemper. Looks like we'll need to head to "the big city" if we want to look at Dynasty. Trying not to fuss too much since this is a guest bath, but we'll be doing the master next and will want something nicer.

Thanks, Jakuvall!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 9:40AM
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