Alder takes stain more red than Hemlock and Oak?!

wynswrld98December 6, 2007

I have a Red Oak floor with Hemlock baseboards in the hallway that I stained with Minwax Red Chestnut stain and the color came out looking pretty similar on both types of wood (a reddish brown).

However, I plan on buying Knotty Alder doors for this hallway and tried the same stain on a piece of Alder and it came out very red and very dark. I tried one piece leaving the stain on 20 mins before wiping it off (which is what I did on the Hemlock and Red Oak) and it came out really dark and really RED. I then tried staining the Alder for 10 minutes and wipe it off and it still came out very red although slightly lighter than when left on for 20 mins.

Anyway, I was curious any woodworkers out there who have stained Alder and other woods if this is "normal" what I'm seeing. I'm trying to get my game plan together before ordering all of the doors but the way things are looking now is I'm going to have to mix some brown (e.g., walnut) stain with this Red Chestnut stain to try and tone down the red to match the floor/baseboards unless anyone has other ideas??

By the way, the doors I'm buying are only available in Knotty Alder and Knotty Pine is why I'm not choosing a different type of wood (e.g., Fir, Hemlock, Oak). I hate the way pine takes stain so that's why I'm going toward Alder which took the stain fine but just really RED.

Thanks in advance!

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You have several options:

1) A pre-stain conditioner. This can be a canned product (see this article

2) Gel stain approach

3) A thinned coat (aka spit coat) of shellac or thinned coat of hide glue (aka Glue Size) will also restrict the penetration of stains and result in a lighter application.

4) You can thin down the intensity of a stain by mixing with the "natural" (i.e., no color) stain base.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 9:27PM
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Sorry, I thought the problem was more intensity that redness. To address too much red:

First, run a trial with your top coat of finish. This often tones things down.

To kill red, you apply green (its color opposite). In the stain palette, this is usually raw umber. God knows what the stain manufacturers might call this. You might ask the paint store to give you a squirt or two of raw umber UTC in a jar you've taken in.

One of the stains I use can be a shocking cordovan color on some woods. A treatment with brown glaze really settles it down.

In short, you are going to have to run some test panels, through to completion, to find the best solution.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 9:33PM
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Thanks for the info. I was also looking to hear from those that have stained Alder and other woods and see if what I'm experiencing is "normal" in that Alder tends to take stain more red than some other woods (e.g., Hemlock and Red Oak).

I only have a small test piece of Alder to stain that I got at a lumber yard, wanted to play around with stain on Alder before committing to buy all of the interior doors in my home in Knotty Alder. :-O

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 9:40PM
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    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 10:01PM
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Alder is a much more absorbent wood then oak, don't know about hemlock. It's also used as a substitute for cherry. So I believe the results you're getting are about right for the species. As stated before, try a conditioner and/or thinning. This will be a trail and error thing.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 12:19AM
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