Matching Deck Stain Colors

8-3-2022
By Jane Malham
Color Match Stain

Learning how to match stain colors can be difficult for several reasons. You can find out why and avoid the same mistakes many people make when they try.

It Should Be Easy, Right? All we have to do is match the colors and even a child can do that. I feel like it can’t be that easy. It never is.

The process for matching stain colors is complicated. You have to take into account the stain’s transparency as well as the age and style of the wood. Stains can be transparent, semi-transparent, or semi-solid.

A stain can look different from one species of wood to the next because they hold stains differently. Then the age of the wood affects how a stain will look too. The fibers on new wood are still tight and it has a higher moisture content than the old.

Say you stain a fence using a medium brown stain. A few years pass and you want to freshen up the stain so you reuse that same medium brown stain, but it turns out darker than the original stain job. One or two shades darker, too.

The first step to matching stain colors is to get a finisher’s color wheel. Use it to find a stain color close to your stain. Buy stain samples so you can mix and test them. Clean the wood and apply the stain to the same wood as your project, let it dry, and see if it matches.

A finisher’s color wheel has common stain colors on it. When you line them up you can see how they mix. If several look similar choose a lighter stain because it’s easier to make a stain look darker than to lighten it.

Color samples take time to dry out especially for penetrating stains. The best practice is to apply the stain in a well-lit area and let it dry. The color then is the true color of the stain. This could take a day in the hot weather or up to a few weeks in the cold.

With a re-stain, it’s best to apply the color sample onto the surface being re-stained. If you apply the sample onto a new board the color will be different from the wood being re-stained.

Go a shade darker on re-stains or go from transparent to semi-transparent. Going darker or thicker gives a more uniform look and helps hide areas exposed to the elements or that have been washed out by sprinkler heads.

Call (630) 523-3045 or schedule a free estimate online and restore the look of your deck today.

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