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Uneven custom cabinet stain... please advise

Posted by Nuieve (My Page) on
Sat, Dec 22, 12 at 6:55

I received my beech cabinets this tuesday. Upon installation originally I found 3 doors with defects. Two had chips, one on the actual face, the other one on the edges (painted over), and one had a grain splotch that looked like big paint leak.

I brought these back to cabinet maker and they acknowledged those were definitely flaws and the doors will be replaced.

But now that I started looking closely some other things came up that start to annoy the heck out of me. The nature of beech is that, like maple, it's super smooth and glossy, and it makes any kind of imperfection stand out quite much. I definitely should've gone with other wood species, but the sample looked oh so nice in the showroom...

My kitchen has an island and a wall section, parallel to each other. Isle doors seem to be fine (that area is poorly lit so I'm not worried anyway). Only under sink fixed panel has another grain splotch (see pic). I don't know if I should have that replaced. I don't want to be a pest. What do you say?

Now on to some more obvious things.

1. The right of center wall cabinet door is horrendous. Just check that orange are on the right side. Enormous blotch.

2. The left door has a little bit of lightness toward the bottom right corner (harder to see in pictures) and thre chips on the door edge, painted over. Of course paint under light turns into white spots, easily notited. Both these doors coming back.

Now on to the grain. I know the variation is normal, but my island cabinets (and some wall ones) are perfect and the grain doesn't show up much, the edges are lighter but the grain itself stays in check. But on some doors it's extremely intense and when paired with less intesely grained doors nearby make the cabinets looks weird.

3. Check the remaining door above the oven. Not only it's intensely grained, but the whole door is a shade lighter than the rest (more orange-ish brown).

4. The left door above the fridge opening has some grain splotches just like the one I returned. Look like light dirt stains from the distance.

5. The door on the wall to the right of the bright orange blotchy door. Grain is crazy on this one. Doesn't match any other door in the kitchen. Door appearance is noticeably lighter due to this.

So what say you? Please check the pictures and tell me what you'd do in my situation. It's a big cabinet chain, and the guys there seem friendly and understanding, didn't have any problem returning the first three doors. Should I pursue returning all of the mentioned ones? Or am I just being nitpicky?

Here are the pics:

And this is the reference cabinet door, also with quite intense grain but properly stained:

Here's a blotch they admitted as a flaw:

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Uneven custom cabinet stain... please advise

Many woods do not take dark stains well. The only way to truly get dark cabinets with no hint of the natural grain is to paint them. Or choose a wood with more of an open grain that stains more evenly such as cherry or oak. What you are terming "blotches" is the natural grain of the wood and is not a defect at all. There are some areas that look as though the topcoat was misapplied and those should be corrected.

When compared with typical "custom" cabinets that aren't factory finished, your cabinets are 95% fine, and you are just in that stage where you notice every little natural variation and hyper fixate on it.

RE: Uneven custom cabinet stain... please advise

I am an anal perfectionist, yes, haha. So which doors do you think I should leave as is and which I should bring back?

My concern is these light blotches seem to have taken in an adequate amount of stain in other doors and they stand out just enough to add texture to the door without affecting overall tone of the door. But the ones in the picture seem too light. So are you saying it's normal?

RE: Uneven custom cabinet stain... please advise

we had blotchiness issues on our medium dark wood beams. we found that using wood conditioner before staining helped. not sure if your cabinetmaker used this or not. our GC sanded a bit and applied wood conditioner then reapplied stain and it took more evenly. also, we asked him to use cotton cloths to apply the stain instead of brushes. that also helped.

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