Cherry Stain for Kitchen Cabinets

catpersonOctober 10, 2011

I posted this in the kitchen forum, but someone suggested I post it here. We are buying a new townhome to retire in. The cabinets (unfinished wood) that are in the townhome are made of birch, but I would like a cherry finish. The painter made me some samples, but they were too light, and showed too much of the grain, giving a blotchy look. He then mixed one part cherry, and one part walnut, and some other combinations. They were dark enough to cover the wood, and weren't blotchy, but all were too brown. I wanted it to be redder so that I would have a better contrast with black countertops. I asked him to try two parts cherry with one part walnut. He stated he would try, but it is the walnut that makes it dark.

I might add that it is not the grain that bothers me that much; it is the blotchiness, but I do want a dark cherry.

He is the builder's painter, not mine. He uses Sherwin Williams Wood Classics Interior Oil Stain. The one I liked the most was the one where he used Classic Cherry, and, I think, Bistro Walnut. However, it was not red enough.

I have to make a decision in a couple of days.

If anyone knows how to make the cabinets look more cherry-colored, please let me know. Thanks for you help!

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There are lots of ways -- dyeing the wood first with red, using a different stain, using a glaze, using a toner. With the exception of "different stain," these are things you are not likely to find (or find anyone who knows about) at your average Sherwin-Williams store.

Not all painters are good wood finishers (and not all wood finishers are good painters.)

As Jeff Jewitt says, "When it comes to color matching there is simply no substitute for experience."

It sounds like you need a different person as your cabinet finisher.

And you can't go strictly on what it looks like then it's stained. You must have a sample that includes all steps in the finishing process, including all the top coats.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 8:23PM
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Thanks for the advice. Unfortunately, the painter is the person the builder uses, and I don't have any choice except to use him.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 9:32PM
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I agree with Bob in that you need to find a different finisher. First:
To avoid blotching and to gain control of both the color and depth of color, the work should be sprayed and dye stains rather than pigment stains be used. Dyes are transparent and pigments are opaque and consist of particles that provide color, much like paint. NGR (Non Grain Raising) stains are the best and most controllable and are easily sprayed, preferred, in fact.

You need to hire a professional. Most cabinet makers nowadays, don't finish most of there custom work. A good deal of it is better done and more cheaply by professional finish shops. Most consumers never learn of these shops. Ask a local cabinet guy, or two or three, who are the finishers in the area.

After that get a bid or 2 or 3. Have them explain what they'll do to get it to the look you want. After that let the pros do it. They're generally better than anyone else you'll find out side of a Master finisher and they'll be much more expensive.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 9:39PM
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The key to success could be any number of things. I would be tempted to apply a coat of the red stain to get the warm tone into the wood first, then darken it with an overstain or toning coat of a darker browner stain.
If it were my job I would seal the wood slightly with an half-pound cut of dewaxed shellac and then use washes of Solarlux dye stain to get the color. If you aren't very familiar with dyes they can easily get beyond your control.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 11:45PM
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The application of a red dye stain might be a good idea if it can be kept under control. The secret is to use a dilute solution of a red aniline dye in ethanol or methanol; the choice of red can be important to getting the right tone. Once again, it is more controllable if sprayed rather than brushed. Once done, there is no going back to make it lighter, so have test pieces finished through top coat before starting on the cabinets themselves. Remember that Walnut stain can impart green tones to the work and mixing it with red will move it to the brown side. Look at some mahogany stains that will have less green in them.

I have had excellent luck with Mohawk NGR stains, including Cherry.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 11:40AM
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