Return to the Woodworking Forum | Post a Follow-Up

Matching Pottery Barn stain

Posted by pepperidge_farm (My Page) on
Tue, Nov 11, 08 at 8:24

We are working on a bathroom with a Pottery Barn vanity in "hand rubbed espresso stain." We have a tub deck with the base that I would like to match the stain.

I have read in places that one can dye the wood, then use a walnut stain. It would seem that just applying multiple coats of stain will not give a good result.

Does anyone have any experience or knowledge of how to achieve the same approximate color?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Matching Pottery Barn stain

Yeah, I have tried several different colors. The only way I succeeded in actually matching was to get the recipe from the company who made/mixed the stain and duplicate it.

I have gotten close several times---usually close enough to satisfy the customer. But I never satisfied my own eye.

RE: Matching Pottery Barn stain

Dying, then applying a wiping stain or glaze is a common finishing method (at least to me.) Color matching takes both a good eye, experience and color theory. You are unlikely to get a perfect match out of a can of #344, or whatever.

The only way to be sure is to run some sample boards and see where they lead you. Tweaking along the way is often needed as the wood, how stain is applied, the stain(s) and the finish coat itself all contribute to the resulting color.

"Hand rubbed espresso" is merely a marketing term and to me indicates red undertones and black-brown over tones. If you go to 5 different manufacturers you will likely find 5 different interpretations of what these words mean.

RE: Matching Pottery Barn stain

If you are not experienced in mixing stains, glazes, etc., you may want to try to get a professional to do it.

RE: Matching Pottery Barn stain

Thanks for the advice.

handymac- I think as long as it is close, I can't imagine getting identical, it is unlikely I'll even use the same wood (it is meranti wood).

bobsmyuncle- I think I will get set up with a few samples, formulas, that's a good strategy. I do actually have a background in color theory/art as well as some amateur woodworking, so that should help.

jbranch... what can I say, obviously I am planning on doing it myself along with the rest of the project. We do all our own work.

I guess I had some hope that someone out there had tried it already, as it is a popular store... anyone?

RE: Matching Pottery Barn stain

The end color will be the result of the wood, the stain(s) you apply, how you apply them and the finish you use. There is not a good way to predict where they will end up without some samples. But there are probably numerous ways to get there. I would start with a dye, then a wiping stain, and perhaps a glaze if needed to highlight the detail and/or tweak the color.

You might look at General Finishes Java gel stain as it looks like it might be close (but may be too red for you).

Here is a link that might be useful: Is this the one?

RE: Matching Pottery Barn stain

Yep- that's the series!

The Java looks like it has potential- Thanks.

I don't have any experience or knowledge regarding wood dye's. Is there anything special or useful for technique?

RE: Matching Pottery Barn stain

I just watched Jeff Jewitt's "Wood Coloring" video where he goes into using dyes. It is extracted from his "Hand Applied Finishes" book, so that would be a start.

A friend of mine likes to mix up very concentrated mixtures of dyes, then carefully thin them out and run sample boards with different concentrations. By carefully, I mean measure accurately with graduated beakers or vials. In other words, the secret to success is being able to repeat a desired test.

Unless you are spraying, most people recommend water as the solvent as it gives you more open time than alcohol. Since this is your first time, practice on scrap until you are happy with the results.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hand applied finishes

RE: Matching Pottery Barn stain

Be sure to compare the test pieces under the same light as it will be used under.

The color we perceive depends not just on the actual dye and pigments used, but the light color illuminating the surface.

Eyes do not judge 'absolute color' well.

Even the color on the walls and ceiling in the bathroom will affect how the color you are making is perceived, and the amount of natural light and even sheers over a window play also.

RE: Matching Pottery Barn stain

bobsmyuncle- thanks so much for the book reccomendation- it looks good.

brickeyee, I know what you mean...

RE: Matching Pottery Barn stain

Just wanted to update with my results, thanks so much for the direction-

the stain that worked was the General Finishes Espresso stain, that seems to be a perfect match- even in direct daylight, it is a wonderful match. I put it onto birch ply and the result was great. Only the wood grain is different, but the color and luminosity is almost indistinguishable! Now just working on my many coats of poly.....


bobsmyuncle- thanks for the tip on GF stains, I found a local business that sells them and I was able to look in person. I started with test pieces and a base black color, but the espresso color alone was the correct undertones and depth. Made that part very easy!!

RE: Matching Pottery Barn stain

Glad it worked out. I have used GF Espresso on a number of projects. What I was trying to match had a bit more red undertones, so I dyed with red before wiping on the stain. The last job I used it on, the guy had lost two dining table legs in a move. He didn't care too much what the color was, but when he picked them up, he could not tell the original that he left for a sample from the replacements.

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Woodworking Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here