How to finish like Ikea's Black-Brown funiture?

yuriJuly 31, 2007


I am planning to make big custom entertainment center from oak finished plywood. I quite like black-brown finish of furniture from Ikea. It is quite dark, but not black, almost opaque, matty and still shows wood texture. I am looking for ideas how can I do the same. I'd prefer not to use classic staining with following clear coat.

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You might want to post a pic or link.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 4:23PM
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I'd prefer not to use classic staining with following clear coat.
Then how would you finish it ?
You need some sort of finish over the paint or stain.

Why are you going with oak ? If your going to have dark ,heavy bodied stain ( or color or some sort) why waste oak, go with Birch. It will stain easier,finish easier and look better.The look better part is my opinion .:)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 6:53PM
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As for pics/url
Here is one with black-brown finish
unfortunately the picture quality does not show
finish/texture well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Example of black-brown finish

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 11:55AM
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> Then how would you finish it ?
I thought about toned finish like Minwax Polyshades,
but I read that it is not good.

>Why are you going with oak ?
I can buy oak or birch plywood from Lowes/HomeDepot,
they cost the same. I like oak texture and birch
does not appeal to me. Ideally I would be happy
with beech plywood, but I do not know where I can get.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 12:02PM
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As a furniture refinisher, I just never picture oak with anything other than that "classic" antique tone to it.
I'm not familiar with the Minwax Polyshades, we make our own stains in my shop.
Is this Polshade a mix of both color and finish together ?
If so, the big drawback to this is when you scratch that finish you will be removing both the color and finish. Ideally you want to stain it (in the traditional manner) and then apply a clear finish on top. Now any superficial scratches will only be done to the finish not the stain underneath.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 12:47PM
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What I read about Polyshades it is mix color and finish.

I got couple samples of stain from Lowes and tried on piece of plywood. I wanted it pretty dark, so had to apply several times, but I did not like the result. It got not that uniform as I want. Sure it is my weak experience, but I will need to finish big amount (by my scale) of surface and want better controlled process.

What about ebony finish, which frequently may be seen on audio speaker and subwoofer boxes. Is it done in two steps color plus clear finish or just one step?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 2:39PM
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There used to be a cable program called, "The Furniture Guys." My BIL sent me a tape of several programs and one was done with coffee for a stain and hide glue for a top coat -- that's very non-traditional. All I could imagine was waking up one summer morning with my forearm glued to the headboard. The demonstrator said, "This finish is not for everyone." Then his partner said, "It may not be for anyone."

If you prefer a more traditional, take a look at General Finishes' Espresso stain. It's available at Rockler.

Here is a link that might be useful: See the color chart

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 8:51PM
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For me staining is a one time application.applying a second coat is just guessing to see if your going to achive your desired color. With each layer applied your making the stain more opaque.
Try these guys , scroll down to UTC colors and order yourself "black". You will thin it with paint thinner and create the desired viscocity of your stain. You will want a heavy bodied stain. Then brush or preferably spray on your finish.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 11:37PM
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By complete mistake, I discovered how to replicate Ikea's Black/Brown finish. Wanting a deep black finish on some wood trim pieces in my entertainment room, the guy at the paint store sold me a thick black paint that contained iron powder. The paint was Metal Masters' Metal Effects Iron Paint and came in a clear plastic bottle about 3" in diameter and maybe 6" tall with a white twist lid on it.

Here is a link to their site:

In any case, I eagerly applied the paint and it looked great until the next day when it started to rust. Yes, rust! After some research, I found that this particular paint was designed to provide a rusted look on purpose.

Not to be defeated and intending to get a black look instead of a rusty brown look, I took a spray can of rust converter I had purchased from WalMart and did a test patch on one of the trim pieces. (FYI, Rust Converter was designed to convert rust into a black primer-like surface)

Voila - Ikea's Black/Brown finish !

It looked so great, I used the same approach on all of the trim pieces in the room.

Hope this helps...

- John

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 3:57AM
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I get amused every time I see someone wanting to copy an Ikea product/color when using real wood.


Here is an example why-------information taken from the description of the item yuri posted-----

Main parts: Particleboard, Ash veneer, Paper, Stain, Clear acrylic lacquer
Back: Fiberboard

Ikea furniture is made of paper and pressed sawdust. Their finishes are designed for those materials. It is almost impossible to copy.

Now, as to getting close to the color/texture---which is possible.

First, oak/ash is a large and rough grained wood---you will not get a smooth surface nor will you get even color.

Maple and pine blotch without proper pretreatment---treatment which usually inhibits stains from being absorbed well.

For what yuri wants to do, birch ply/dimensional wood would be my recommendation. Not much grain defination, can be sanded very smooth, and takes dye-----which will get closer to the desired color than stains---well.

Then use a matte varnish---preferrably something non-polyurethane. Most brand name paint stores has that product.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 10:04AM
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Why would someone want to copy an IKEA stain/dye?

Well, not to split hairs, but not EVERYTHING from IKEA is pressboard and "foil" finish. They havea line called Hemnes that is "solid" wood (lots of finger joints take SOLID to "solid"). Yes, the backer is 3/16 pressboard, but you can replace that with 1/4" or 3/16 ply and for under $200 have a dimensonally stable and not bad looking bookcase. I am building a combo theater/library in my basement and since 125sf of custom book cases is a bit out of my price range, i reached out to IKEA. Voila - $1,200. That wouldn't be a cabinet maker's deposit for the job. Now why to match? Well, i have a fridge that needs to be sunk into a wall and clad to match the bookcases. So, i need to match the finish. Also need to bild a frame around the screen - again need to match finish. It's not Stickley, and we're not varnishing a Barrel-back ChrisCraft, so give this person a break. Oh, and to answer the question directly - don't use oak, use a sandable and relitively un-figured ply (Sandeply at one retailer) and you can get Black-Brown stain directly from IKEA - ar at least you used to be able to. Oak will look wierd next to factory whitewood peices and won't absorb as well.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 11:03AM
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Why? We are thinking of buying the IKEA Bjursta dining room table in the black-brown finish. We have some nice old chairs that we would like to stain to match. That's why.
We won't know for sure until we get the table, we have a feeling that we must mix black and brown stains until we get the right shade. Rusteolum and several others make an "espresso" stain that also might work.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 10:21AM
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Larry Miller,
You know this thread is over 5 years old? Start a new one and you might be able to get some help with your staining issues. Don't try mixing things to find a match for your new table, especially Rustoleum. What kind of wood are your chairs? What type of finish is already on your chairs? Etc. You will have lots of options.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 3:31PM
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