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Gel stain for this chair or paint?

Posted by lyban (My Page) on
Sat, Jun 11, 11 at 13:47

I have this old chair which I have owned for 30 odd years in my basement . I finally asked my seamstress to make me new cushions with the intention of re-stainng or painting this chair.
Well, time passed and I got discouraged because when I started to work on this chair it was one of the hardest stains to remove or strip. No matter what I try it does not budge ,besides, the finish looks bland , no grain markings at all. So here I am with the new cushions done in a fabric I love but the chair still a mess.
Seeing another thread here on gel stains got me wondering, do you think if I got some of this general gel stains I could just put it on the chair in a dark color or should I paint.

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Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Gel stain for this chair or paint?

Its maple. It looks like it could be Cushman Colonial.

I have a 1950s dresser with that same orangey "Colonial Maple" finish on it and I was able to get most of the opaque part of the orange off but the wood still stayed pretty orange. It kind of looke light cherry-ish or real colonial maple-ish, so I just put a top coat on.

What are you stripping it with?

This general shade of finish (Colonial Maple) is the most appropriate finish, albeit not necessarily the murky orange.
I wouldn't paint it. I saw a pair of chairs like this in Architectural Digest last year, so they do have an audience.

Pay no attention to these prices, they are just nice pictures.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cushman on 1stdibs.


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RE: Gel stain for this chair or paint?

I'm going to agree it's maple. But it doesn't appear as if a stripper was applied, just sanded?

I have a vintage Heywood Wakefield bedroom set that at one time I thought I'd refinish. Maple is a tricky wood to stain, and I read the reason so many vintage (40's, 50's) maple pieces have that 'solid' stain look is because it was not a matter of simply applying stain and poly.

I had a great article on it but can't find it yet. I'll keep looking. Meanwhile if you google "refinishing vintage maple" or "refinishing antique maple" you'll probably get some good tips. Especially on the "finish" phase of the job. Or ask in woodworking forum here.


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RE: Gel stain for this chair or paint?

I'd just paint it. I think it would look great black. But what would you prefer? To see the wood restored or the easier route paint. Personally, I would probably go with the easier route, but that's just me.


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RE: Gel stain for this chair or paint?

Pal: Thanks for that info. on the cushman chairs. I did not realize these chairs had a name. I should of got the chair refinished before picking out my fabric and having the cushions made but I always seem to do things backwards.
Now I love my fabric and the cushions but perhaps they are the wrong style for the chair.
Oh well, live and learn.

Moonshadow: I did try stripper first on a few spots but gave up rather quickly. Then sanded and was dissappointed that there did not seem to be much grain.

Polly: As far as what I would like, ideally I would like to have a black stain where the wood shows thru a bit rather than a paint but with no grains and having such a hard time to get this old stuff off then maybe I would have to paint.

Does anyone know if I can put expresso type stain on top of what I have now or would it just make everything an orangey-black. Or do I really have to remove all the finish before going the route of a stain.


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RE: Gel stain for this chair or paint?

With the toile on the new cushions I would probably paint it to blend with the off-white ground of the fabric.


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RE: Gel stain for this chair or paint?

I would remove the old finish first, that way there will be no surprises when you stain.


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RE: Gel stain for this chair or paint?

Nice chair!

I don't have any experience with gel stain but I would think the areas where you did use the stripper wouldn't be the same shade as the rest. You could always try it and if it doesn't work go for the paint. More than once now I wish I would've done that. If you do the gel stain, maybe you should at least sand it all over first.

If you can't get it with the stain, I'd go for black paint.


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RE: Gel stain for this chair or paint?

I like to gel stain things. I think if you went dark enough you could gel stain it, if you didn't want to finish sanding it. I think you would be better off sanding the whole thing if you are going to gel stain it, just so it stays even.
Its a hard call though. I think black paint would be really nice too. Maybe with a bit of a distressed finish. Once you paint you're pretty stuck lol Stain is probably the better way to go. If you get sick of it in a few years you could always paint it then.


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RE: Gel stain for this chair or paint?

Moonshadow: I did try stripper first on a few spots but gave up rather quickly. Then sanded and was dissappointed that there did not seem to be much grain.

Yes, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed if you're hoping for grain. Relatively speaking, maple just doesn't have much. Looks like this bare. And you reminded me of a challenge with a little round table I got at auction. It was covered in layers of paint, army green being the last. ;) I stripped it & was thrilled to find hard rock maple. But it just wasn't taking test stain well at all. Really blotchy. I ended up just putting a couple of clear coats of poly on it and leaving it at that. I have a pic but can't find it yet. I'll keep looking, tho.


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RE: Gel stain for this chair or paint?

I think you could definitely gel stain that chair. Or perhaps you may find a color from Annie Sloans Chalk Paint (no, it is not chalk board paint). It's been making it's way around the blogs and says you do not have to sand first.

Here is a link that might be useful: Chalk Paint


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RE: Gel stain for this chair or paint?

Thanks everyone for the advice. I guess deep down I knew that I was going to have to sand it if I want to try any kind of stain, so maybe I will give it another try.
If I do gel stain, I would probably go with an expresso gel stain. I will let you know how it goes.


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RE: Gel stain for this chair or paint?

The picture is gone from your post, but if this is actually a Cushman Colonial chair, it had value, probably in the low hundreds of dollars. Removing the characteristic finish, even if damaged, reduced the value to about 0.


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