Staining Birch to Match Cherry

      Advice on getting a "close enough" finish match on Birch trim in a house with Cherry cabinets. October 14, 2010

I need to stain birch trim to match cherry cabinets. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get around the open pours on the birch? I'm using Gel Stain on the cherry. I need a technique that can be used large scale.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor D:
Are the trim pieces going to be used on the cherry cabinetry? If so, why not get cherry trim? If not, where will they be in relation to the cabinets? This will help determine how close of a match you will need to make and if the open graining on the birch will matter.

From the original questioner:
The birch trim and doors will be in the rest of the house. They will not be in direct contact with the cherry cabinets.

From contributor G:
I donít know if youíll get there with a gel stain. I would change to a spray-on no wipe stain.

From contributor Z:
Why is cherry not being used for the trim, and why are the cherry cabinets being stained, are these people nuts? Why didn't they have the cabinets made of birch in the first place if they were planning on staining?

From contributor R:
I've done a lot of trim packages to go with my cabinetry. On the west coast it's almost always hemlock or fir stained to match whatever else you are doing. Sorry, but for most folks cherry is just too expensive for trim.

As far as staining the birch to look cherry, there is not a whole lot you can do about matching the grain - that is what it is. However to get the color here's two options:

1. If you can get your hands on Lawrence McFadden Warm Cherry Gel Stain just wipe on/wipe off. LM went bankrupt recently but I believe they still stock it. If you can get it, it will work well for you.

2. Otherwise, Benite the birch, then apply Sherwin Williams cherry (make sure it's not the Traditional Cherry youíre getting). There's other ways but there are two.

From contributor M:
Any time you wipe stain you accentuate the pores of the wood. It looks great on oak not so good on birch. I would spray on a dye stain mixed to match your color.

From contributor J:
I agree with Contributor M. First, use a dye stain (thinned) followed by a simple seal coat, then scuff and apply a thick bodied glaze coat, followed by a vinyl sealer then top coat of your choice. Itís lots of work, but the only way to go in my opinion.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all the responses. The cherry doors and trim are too expensive. I played around with filling the grain on the birch with satisfactory results, but not practical on a large scale. I need to get up to speed on dyes and toners. Does anyone have a good learning reference online that I should know about? None of the major paint suppliers near Madison, WI know anything about them.

From contributor M:
For interior use I would use WD Lockwood. They are powders that you add hot water to. The alcohol based or NGR type stains are more lightfast but more expensive and more difficult to spray. The water based dye sprays very well and wicks into details much better than alcohol stains. You can also seal and glaze over the dye for some really great depth.

From contributor J:
What does "benite the birch" mean?

From contributor R:
Benite is a product put out by Daly's. It's a pre-stain treatment, much better than any other I've found including wash coating, although you do need to wait overnight before staining. It is sort of the industry standard in the Pacific Northwest before staining on woods that tend to blotch.

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