Darkening finish on furniture

chibimimiDecember 16, 2011

I just bought a mirror with a finish that is lighter than the vanity it will go over. I would like to darken it (to an espresso color) without stripping off the current finish,

There have been some postings here and on other forums that make it seem you can use these over an existing finish. Has anyone done this successfully and, if so, which brand did you use?

Is there another way to darken the finish?

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Are you talking about GEL staining? If so, Minwax has gel stain but I'm not sure how well it works.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 8:30PM
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General Finish's Gel Stain can go right over the existing finish if you clean it well with mineral spirits. Their Java is a deep expresso brown.

It's creamier than Minwax and easier to blend coats.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 8:54PM
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I used Minwax Polyshades to darken these counter stools. My apologies to those who have seen these photos before.

Original color and after the first coat.

The finished stools.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 10:31PM
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Ooops, sorry, yes, I do mean gel stains, although the Minwax polyshades results look good, too. On their website, however, they say to use the polyshades on bare wood. Did you sand first to give it tooth? How is the finish wearing on the stools?

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 11:06PM
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GREAT JOB with the stools Sis3, wow. I have never really understood how the Polyshades works or was different from the gel stain. Our kitchen cabinets are similar to the original color of your stool and I've been wanting to do something with them but DH won't let me just paint them.

I'm really impressed with what the polyshades did with that color. Can I ask what shade it is and if you know, what the actual difference between the Polyshades and Gel Stain is?

    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 6:11AM
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Thank you lukkiirish! Polyshades is a stain and polyurethane in one. Unlike regular Minwax, or any regular stain for that matter, it is intended to be used on finished wood. The lightest of sanding is all that is necessary just to provide a key for the stain to adhere to.

The color is Bombay Mahogany, satin finish. I think the secret to success is following the instruction to apply only a thin coat at a time.
I have used gel stain too but I don't like the way it looks when the sunlight hits it - you can see every brushstroke! Perhaps I should have taken even more care when applying it?

The stools have been in daily use for 3 or 4 years now and apart from a chip on one arm that I need to touch up, the finish is holding up really well. I don't know if I would have the courage to tackle kitchen cabinets though! I suppose if it wasn't successful you would then HAVE to paint them :-)

    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 9:18AM
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I have a nice Thomasville bedroom set that is an oak color that I HATE. The set is in a guest bedroom that never gets used, but still I can't stand the light oak color. It makes it gives it a "country look" and that is not my decorating style.
I've wanted to darker it for years, but I am not a DYI'er I have zero patience and craft skill. I did think about having it professional refinished - but it's on the second floor and very heavy furniture.

Is this Polyshade product really, really easy to do? Is it best for small pieces rather than a complete set of large scale furniture? Is it messy? I would need to do it in the bedroom since I can't move the furniture to the garage, etc. My carpet in that room is brand new, so I can't have something too sloppy that I could spill on the carpet.

Sis3 - your barstools came out beautiful !!!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 9:24AM
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I have used Polyshades, and found it to be a bit tricky to use. Kudos to sis3 for achieving such a great finish on her stools. I haven't used the gel stain yet, but based on comments from those who have I have bought some to darken up a table that I have purchased.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 1:47PM
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Chibimimi - I cleaned the cabinets thoroughly to get off the dirt, and scuffed them up with steel wool and mineral spirits as was removing 20+ years of wax and grease.

But they weren't bare wood by any means.

Here is a link that might be useful: Stain info

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 6:41PM
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Thanks Sis3, I appreciate the info! I have a corner cabinet that we recently removed during some updating we did to the kitchen. I plan on using the door to sample the products before I take the plunge. We have quite a few boxes though so I'm on the fence about taking on the project. Other than knowing that they are dated, the other changes we've made have helped improve the look over all and they don't bother me as much any more. In a way, they're sort of homey looking. :c)

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 7:40PM
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