Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Staining: are there products or techniques to reduce wood grain?

  1. #1

    Staining: are there products or techniques to reduce wood grain?

    Maybe this is a very basic question - but my googling does not return results that seem to address my question.

    I have been renovating my 1960s ranch and attempting to keep it period-correct. The interior doors are all Lauan veneered in a medium-brown color. I needed to replace one of these doors and custom-ordered a solid-core Lauan slab.

    The slab that arrived has quite pronounced wood grain, whereas the original doors have minimal visible grain. I think this is because the original doors have had a finish applied that has partially hidden the wood grain. I'd like to finish the new slab so that it matches the original doors and has a subtle grain effect.

    Can anyone recommend a product or technique that can help me accomplish this? Applying the stains that I'm familiar with will enhance the grain rather than reduce it. Any advice is much appreciated!

    I'm going to purchase a sheet of 1/4 Lauan to practice/test the finishes on first so that I don't ruin the door slab.

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    50,236
    Avoid using a pigment stain like the common products from the big box stores and stick with a dye stain. You may wan to use a conditioner or sealer first to also give you more control.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cobbing View Post
    Maybe this is a very basic question - but my googling does not return results that seem to address my question.

    I have been renovating my 1960s ranch and attempting to keep it period-correct. The interior doors are all Lauan veneered in a medium-brown color. I needed to replace one of these doors and custom-ordered a solid-core Lauan slab.

    The slab that arrived has quite pronounced wood grain, whereas the original doors have minimal visible grain. I think this is because the original doors have had a finish applied that has partially hidden the wood grain. I'd like to finish the new slab so that it matches the original doors and has a subtle grain effect.

    Can anyone recommend a product or technique that can help me accomplish this? Applying the stains that I'm familiar with will enhance the grain rather than reduce it. Any advice is much appreciated!

    I'm going to purchase a sheet of 1/4 Lauan to practice/test the finishes on first so that I don't ruin the door slab.

    Thank you!
    To minimize the grain on lauan whitewash the wood with a very thinned white latex paint. Then use a water based stain. If it's not available where you are make a stain by thinning latex paint. Matching the color will be the hard part. You might buy a sheet of 1/4" lauan plywood to practice the finish on. It's just going to take a lot of tinkering getting the whitewash and stain right.

    Assuming the color is light don't put an oil based finish over the top when you get the color right. It will alter the color plus it will yellow more and more as it ages. You can use any acrylic finish which most water based finishes are.

  4. #4
    I've worked in many old homes with similar. Some had matching casework in really open grain Lauan. To minimize hang up of stain pigment in grain, I think Jim is on the right track with dye, but I probably wouldn't apply directly onto wood.. I suspect some of these weren't even stained, but tone-coated with lightly pigmented clear. First thing I'd try is sealing first, then tone-coat and subsequent shading coats till I get where I want to be. Some stains can be mixed into topcoats and in this case the pigments will obscure the grain some. Kinda like a really thinned down paint. I only know how to do this with solvent based finishes, which would have been the order of the day in the '60s. Most likely lacquer of some kind.

    I suspect careful inspection of grain contrast in original will put you on the track, but can't be sure. One thing to consider is that if this was a production home, dinking around with time consuming techniques wouldn't have been in the cards.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    6,194
    It's a losing battle unless you fill the grain. Even dye or toner coats will accentuate the grain unless it's filled or at least well sealed.

    I've had good luck by first filling the pores of the wood with grain filler. Then I spray on a coat of Sealcoat shellac, followed by toner coats of shellac + whatever combo of Transtint dye that gives me the color I need, Then finish as desired.

    Another approach I haven't yet tried but think will work is to first seal the wood with 1 or 2 coats of Sealcoat shellac, then apply a neutral base stain, seal again, then apply the stain of choice. Spray-no- wipe stains would be best, but it should work ok with a wipe off stain if the wood is well sealed.

    John

  6. #6
    Wow, lots of good ideas guys!

    @Jim Becker: Thanks a lot for pointing me towards dye stain - I wasn't aware of the difference and it definitely looks like a dye is what I will want to use.

    @Peter Rawlings: You brought up a great point - this was indeed a production house and although the workmanship is very good compared to a lot of modern builds, I agree that they certainly did not spend lots of time with the finish on the hollow-core Lauan doors.

    It makes sense to me that the first step will be to use a sealer of some sort. I think I'll use a test piece of 1/4" Lauan and try the simplest approach first: use a wash coat of shellac (SealCoat or maybe amber) followed by a dye stain (probably General Finishes "light brown" or "medium brown). If that does not give satisfactory results, I'll try a grain filler or whitewash followed by a dye stain.

    Thanks for all the advice so far!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Lafayette, IN
    Posts
    4,313
    Gel stains, in my experience, tend to obscure the grain also, particularly when they are "painted" on, and not wiped off.
    Jason

    "Don't get stuck on stupid." --Lt. Gen. Russel Honore


  8. #8
    Here is a photo of the old door (left) and the new unfinished door (right). You can see how prominent the grain is on the new slab.

    IMG_1813_(Medium).jpeg

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    6,194
    The original door might have showed similar contrast before it was varnished. Aging probably helped mellow any contrast, too. Just try plain oil based poly varnish on one of your test specimens. You might be surprised how even it looks afterwards. Worst case, I think spraying on a dye or dye toner, as Jim suggested, followed by your choice of varnish will get you where you need to be.

    John

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cobbing View Post
    Here is a photo of the old door (left) and the new unfinished door (right). You can see how prominent the grain is on the new slab.

    IMG_1813_(Medium).jpeg
    The old door just has a straight grain which is more normal for lauan. Could you take the door you bought back and try to select one with more of a straight grain? That would help a lot in matching the finish. Also I'm seeing some yellowing in the old door from the aged varnish. You can reproduce that yellow by spraying the door with amber shellac. If you are finishing with polyurethane though you would have to use a dewaxed amber shellac which I believe is only available in flake form.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •