Can you stain over stain? Have you done this?

japhynmarleyFebruary 22, 2008

We are redoing the LR in our new fixer-upper house... All of the trim is being painted white from an orange-ish colored stain and lacquer. The fireplace is made beautifully - but is also that dated color. Does anyone know how I could stain this to a darker/richer color without completely stripping the wood? Thanks in advance!

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You have to strip. Otherwise the stain will turn out uneven and splotchy. Trust me, we're in the process of refinishing our twice-stained kitchen cabinets.

It's not that difficult to do, really.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 10:13PM
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One thing I know about that -- and it varies with the wood and grain -- is that some areas of the wood take the stain more than others, so that parts will become very dark and the others not. Oak for instance. The grain pattern will go much darker than the surrounding areas change.

What type of wood is this? People here seem to have a good deal of luck with toning down the orange oaks with gel stain.

Definitely test on similar wood as best you can before taking the plunge. Or have a plan B -- where maybe paint would be a good option for you should you be unhappy with the results. Or, alternatively, ensure that you can just strip the whole thing down, bleach out, whatever it calls for, to undo a failed attempt.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 10:16PM
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LOL... Thanks, pbrisjar. Did you hand-sand or use a chemical stripper?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 10:17PM
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Thanks Squirrel - I appreciate your help... I think it is maple... -J

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 10:22PM
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Both. We used a chemical stripper to get the first layer (or 2 or 3). Then a palm sander to get the rest (120 grit). Then sand with 150 then 220 then stain.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 10:26PM
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Haven't I heard people on this forum say they gave pieces a light sanding and then restained with a darker gel stain and it came out beautiful? I don't remember the names, but I know a couple of people restained their oak kitchen cabinets in a darker stain and they came out beautifully and they didn't do a lot of sanding or stripping. I'm counting on that to redo my 2 old pieces I just acquired. I'm not into stripping anything. Those days are over for me. Too much work and mess!!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 10:33PM
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Yes. Absolutely you can. I have refinished stuff with minimal sanding and gel stain. You can't go lighter, but you can go darker. It goes on evenly and colors look very rich. I have even touched up, with success, old woodwork where the finish was fading and sluffing off with similar colored stain and varnish. Looked like new woodwork.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 11:48PM
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Maybe it technically isn't a stain, but Minwax Polyshades will do a great job of changing the color of your wood without stripping first.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 7:51AM
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I have not used polyshades... but I did use minwax woodsheen on my old kitchen cabinets and it was easy and turned out beautifully. In this case, I wasn't going darker, but was trying to rejuvenate worn ones. I have also used woodsheen as a stain on bare wood and I know that it gets darker for each coat, so you can control the depth of color.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 7:58AM
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Just a warning about Minwax Polyshades - we used it on our woodwork about 8 yrs ago and it looked great until just recently when we noticed it starting to sort of separate from the previous finish. It now looks quite splotchy - shiny in some spots dull in others. Hard to describe what is happening, almost like it is shrinking or evaporating off some areas.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 8:38AM
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Brushworks Spectacular Finishes

In some cases, stripping isn't required. I have used PolyShades on many projects.

The key to any successful refinish is proper preparation.

Failure is always due to incompatible products OR improper preparation.

I would test with PolyShades first. If you don't like it, you can move to the nasty stripping process.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 8:42AM
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Thanks everyone! -J

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 8:51AM
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I've worked with all kinds of wood, and maple is tricky stuff to work with. It will tend to blotch or not take stain well at all. I found a beautiful little table at auction, completely ignored by everyone because it was covered in gobs of army green paint. But upon close inspection I could see it had details in the turned stem. Once stripped, it even had paw feet! Sweet little antique, my father told me it was hard rock maple. There's a reason it has that name, it is hard as a rock! For $22 I was really happy but when I went to put stain on it did not absorb well at all and looked hideous. I ended up taking sanding it back off and just leaving it nekkid with a protective top coat. ;)

I have a Heywood Wakefield BR set that it's good shape structurally but finish has seen better days on top. When I researched refinishing it, I learned (from a guy who specialized in HW restoration) that maple was often covered in what appears to be 'solid' color because of the way it reacts to stains. I'm describing that 40/50's look of seeing little to no wood grain.

Leaving my table bare worked well for me, I actually prefer it that way. Probably won't suit your needs, though. I'd google 'staining maple' for more info. Here's one article that offers some good suggestions: Staining and Blending Difficult Woods He has pictures, too ;)

I'm personally not in favor of putting stain over any type of poly or varnish. Stain was made to absorb into wood. Applying it on top of varnish or poly means it's sitting on that surface. Just can't see successful long term results, but that's just my humble .02.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 9:28AM
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