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trying to match old stain and varnish

Posted by amyds (My Page) on
Wed, May 9, 12 at 19:09

I have undertaken a project that most professional floor finishers would not recommend. I'm hoping, none-the-less, that someone can advise me with my folly.

I have birch floors which were stained and varnished 8 years ago. I am in the process of sanding a small section, I have carefully taped off the full length of each plank involved, and the sanding is going surprisingly well.

I know the brand and color that was used for the stain 8 years ago (it was oil based), and the varnish used was "Crystal", satin finish (also oil based).

I'm well aware that it will be impossible to perfectly match what was done 8 years ago, but I was hoping someone would have suggestions as how to get it as close as possible.

Ideally I'm hoping to stain and varnish my sections using water based.

I've been told there's a store in my area that can mix a water based stain for me to match because they have the "recipes" on all the brands. I will go there and speak to them at length, but do any of you have any experience doing this? Specifically:

I'm assuming the old oil stain will be darker than the new water stain - can I match it by adding an additional coat?

And for the Crystal satin finish oil varnish, does anyone know of a good waterbased satin varnish that gives a similar look?

Thanks to anyone who can give me some constructive advice.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: trying to match old stain and varnish

Whoa. Ok. Deep breath. What you intend to do IS possible. A couple of tips. First the stain. Have them tweek the recipe so it is just a hair darker. It will help trust me. Second when you go to apply the stain before you do take rag soaked in water and rub it on the wood. I know water on wood? Thats crazy. Actually this helps. Its called water popping. What this does is open the pores of the wood to allow the stain the penetrate better.

On to the finish. If you just apply water based finish to the stain you WILL NOT MATCH the exsisting. Oil and water have different looks. Two things you can do. Apply Oil poly to the repair OR apply water but the last coat finish the entire floor both repair and exsisting. Not doing this will cause you repair to stick out like a sore thumb.

Good luck. Take pictures. Fyi im a professional wood floor refinisher and have been for over a decade.


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RE: trying to match old stain and varnish

If you know the brand and color that was used ... use the same thing. Those brands make sure they are matchable over time if you go back to the same color name.

If you start getting fancy with tinting and dyes and such just so you can use a water-based stain you are headed for trouble. Water-based stains are harder to do evenly than oil-based, and the pigments are not the same. It will look "off", especially if you don't have the luxury of scrap wood for testing the stain on.

Oil-based stains and varnishes are not going to make you keel over dead when you open the can.


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