Matching a color question
Hi all, first time poster here. I am renovating my house and have some beautiful new cabinets installed, but the cabinet maker can’t seem to get the color right.
I am trying to match two pictures I found online. I want to know if anyone can recommend a product that will give me my desired colors. My bar cabinets are made of red oak and I am trying to match the first picture and the inside of my kitchen drawers are white oak and I’m trying to match the honey color in the second picture thanks in advance for any help you can offer.
If you are trying to really closely match a specific color, you'll need a big pile of stains, dyes, and sample boards, and then practice a lot. And even then, boards are a little different from one tree to the next, and a piece that has been aging for some years is going to look different than when it was brand new.
Natural wood finishes are going to vary some. It's not like color matching paint. Factories x an get furniture pieces to match each other pretty exactly. But they accomplish that by first bleaching the wood to even it all out, then stain, finish, and add dyes to the finish so that everything looks even. What that adds up to is essentially weak paint. Ick.
Getting something in the neighborhood of the two colors you show isn't that hard. But the more exactly you want it to be will take a lot of time, money, and experience.
It is a bad practice to try to match a physical object to an on-screen image. By the time you saw the photos you found online they had been retouched and optimized for the medium. The onscreen images will change from viewer to viewer, screen to screen, and even depend on the lighting conditions in the room.
At the very least print the images on a heavy glossy paper as a starting point, then find a physical object that matches to give to your contractor. Finally, pick a place and lighting conditions that you will use to judge the samples, ideally where those cabinets will wind up living.
Just a squinty-eyed guess, but maybe the second one is just yellow dye (not stain). What has been tried for matching the first? It may be any reddish stain - cherry, red mahogany, etc. Or, if they were factory finished cabinets, they might be a toned lacquer.
From your wording, it appears that you aren't doing this yourself and your cabinets are already made. You have a cabinetmaker that you are working with, and they have been unable to reproduce the colors in these pictures to your satisfaction. If these cabinets are already stained and installed, you are talking about, essentially, ripping them all out and starting over from scratch.
I hope this isn't the case. (Cabinet-makers joke.)
I really hope that you are still in the color sample phase.
Color matching is incredibly difficult. I got lucky recently when my big box store mixed a stain for me and screwed up. The machine ran out of one of the ingredients during my mix. I kept it because it was free after the mistake. It turned out to be exactly the color I needed for a job I picked up that same week to match shelves that had been lost in shipping to an existing cabinet. I couldn't recreate that color again if I wanted to.
To get the cabinets in the stores and magazines to look uniform, the wood is stripped of color through a bleaching process as @John_C2 writes. White oak is not naturally that honey color you like. It starts as tan. You can't go from tan to light honey. You have to remove the color, then add dye, and then over that a stain or a UV resistant spar varnish, since the dye will fade. Red oak isn't that consistent reddish brown. It starts as a reddish tan. Sometimes "you can't get there from here."
Color saturation levels and lighting levels are changed in the editing and art direction for the pictures before they are published/posted. There may not actually be any existing cabinet that is that color. The blue, because it is paint, is actually doable as a match.
If you already have the cabinets stained, as per the contract, you are talking about some serious coin to get them to the color you want. It is not a DIY job. You can't just add another color on top of wood to make it look like the color you want. You have to remove the finish, bleach it (which isn't really easy), dye it and/or stain it, protect it with varnish or polyurethane. Remember that wood is a natural material, and that it changes over time. The colors will change over time.
If you are fixed on an exact color, use paint.
Just about any finish, except tung oil, will give light-colored wood an amber or honey color. But don't count on it duplicating the color you want. If you have a less visible spot to test, do that. I'd try water-based urethane, natural-toned oils (Deft, Watco) or shellac.
Good luck & listen to the others, too.
Thanks very much for all the feedback! Cabinets are not installed we are just experimenting with trying to find the right color and my cabinet maker can’t get it and after doing a bunch of samples from General finishes I am a little disappointed but I also can’t take forever to find it. I was hoping someone would see it and go instantly that looks like X finish or X stain. Everything is too yellow and not Amber enough/honey
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