Lightening Up Alder

      Alder mellows out naturally over time, but you can choose a finish that keeps it headed the way you like it to go. July 3, 2008

I am looking to stain alder a lighter color and need some advice on how to tone the red down to more of a golden color. Any help?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor C:
To lighten the color you would have to bleach. To golden the color you would have to use a golden orange (meaning a yellow dye that's to the slightly red side, such as nersol yellow R). If you're not looking to lighten the wood very much, try pool chlorine at 25% volume instead of Clorox. Be sure to remove all traces of the bleach with clean water and scotchbrite if needed, let dry, sand with fine paper lightly (320/400) and apply the dye, preferably water type. A weak solution of the yellow dye should get you close to what you desire. Make samples always before applying to the project.

From contributor D:
It is more of a yellow. The color is in a Caldoor brochure and that is what the customer wants, but if I have to bleach it, forget it. I will try a golden stain like golden oak or whatever the ML Campbell stain is.

From contributor R:
To brown the red you'd add some green tones and to lighten and yellow, yellow tint. So a light greenish yellow should start you in the right direction. Try that on some samples and see if you get something that looks about right and then show your customer and get approval.

From contributor S:
Instead of bleach, consider a product called Bleachtone. Mohawk makes it. To learn the principles of Bleachtone, read Mac Simmons' essay "Tinting Toner Tips." As Mac describes, tinting toners do work and when done properly, this technique does not take away from the value of the wood or the interest in the grain. It's a fantastic technique and learning it will add to your ability to conjure up finishing schedules that put you in control of the final look.

Tinting Toner Tips

From contributor G:
Alder goes red-orange shortly after it is cut. It will mellow out as it ages and the MLC Golden Oak color will keep it toward the green/brown side of the spectrum. I doubt you need do anything more than that. When you are matching to a customer's brochure picture, all you need is the simplest thing that looks somewhat close to the picture and still looks good. Make a nice sample and show it with pride.

From the original questioner:
I think you are right about this particular job. This is what I will try and make a sample. Thanks for all the responses and I will look at the link on bleaching. As I looked at the desired kitchen next to a sample of the alder I have, it is pretty close without staining. I will try the golden oak as well.

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