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Choosing a Stain Color

There's no denying that color has a powerful impact on our emotions. The colors that surround us can make us feel happy, sedate, sad, upset, etc. That's why one of the most important factors in your stain project is selecting the right color. But with so many colors to choose from, how do you know which one will give your wood the desired look and emotional effect?

Choosing Interior Staining Color subjective vs objective Subjective vs. objective Color is, of course, a subjective matter. Everyone can list the colors they love and hate. But before you choose a color for your project consider this: You are not the only one who will be living with it.

Factors that influence color perception Factors that influence color perception There are many factors that influence the way a color looks on a finished project. These include the wood's color and substrate texture, subcoats applied to the wood and the light source.

Wood color and substrate Wood color and substrate These two factors will affect the appearance of stain products. Porous wood will absorb more stain and allow more of the substrate to show through.

Staining Interior: Subcoats Subcoats When staining, it's important to remember this: the first coat of a two-coat system will usually appear darker than the second coat. The second coat will tend to be ”smoother“ and will reflect the light source more uniformly. This reflected light may even appear to cause the coating to have a slightly higher sheen. So don't judge the color from the first coat alone. And remember, even clear finishes aren't entirely clear, and will, in fact, affect the color slightly.

Choosing Staining Colors: Light source Light source Every source of light has a different color. For example, incandescent bulbs tend to be warmer and yellower than fluorescent lights. Indoor surfaces that are near a window may also be affected by both interior and exterior light sources.
Exterior light can change dramatically during the course of a day: Sunset light tends to be golden; evening light is often bluish.

Some things to remember

  • The color samples that you see in your hardware store or home center are only an approximation of the final color you may see on a project.
  • Never rely solely on a small chip to determine a final color choice. The actual color will often look darker when applied to a large surface. In addition, take into consideration that store-matched colors may not perfectly match a manufactured ready-mix color.
  • For best results, a sample of the chosen color should be brushed out on the surface to which it will be applied.
  • Colors change as they dry; therefore, no color decision should be made until the sample board is completely dry and top coated.

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