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Help! White Oak Cabinet Stain?

Brad Cerf
3 years ago

Hi all-


Working on a kitchen with rift sawn white oak (I attached a photo below of current progress). been trying several different stain products that have all either gone really yellow, or amber (when using lacquer). We found a product by ILVA that seals the wood without changing the color at all which is great, and then we've tried using JEL'D stains on top to control the color a bit. None of the stains are quite right... anyone have experience staining rift white oak? Trying to achieve the look below- a darker version of the natural finish that goes more desaturated brown..not yellow/orange. Would appreciate any photos/products/processes you've used. thank you!


my kitchen:


Sample photo:



Comments (182)

  • Martha Aldrich
    last year

    thomaspartyof6 - I LOVE your cabinets. Can you please tell me what you ended up using for the finish/color?? I have to make a decision very soon. Thank you!!

  • kniarchos
    last year

    thomaspartyof6 - how sure are you the mix is 20 parts clear to 1 part white? I took the product number to SW and they said that was the sku number of the sayerlack, not the mix recipe. Does your label show the recipe? You knocked this out of the park! Great work!!! And thank you for sharing your insights with all of us and saving us so much time!

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  • thompsoc75
    last year

    Wonder if thr OP ever came up with a solution- love the cabinet color he was going for but cant seem to tag hom to ask

  • julials14
    last year

    I've been stalking this website for the past 2 months trying to come up with a solution for my white oak island and cabinets. Initially the carpenter used a "clear coat" which I think was a laquer that turned them quite an orange-y color. After a LOT of research and trying the Rubio monocoat products (too white) and going to Sherwin Williams (they do not sell the same products in Los Angeles as they do in other parts of the country I think due to our regulations) I finally tried Envirolak (still a bit too yellow) and the winner was Renner Italia! Here are the before and after photos. The carpenter had to remove the cabinets treated with his laquer and strip them down to use the Renner, but it made a world of difference. You can see the photo of the orange cabinets below as they compared to my inspiration photo. And the completed island with the Renner finish. Here is a link to the site if it helps anyone: https://tlfinish.com/product/renner-italia-water-base-urethane-topcoat-ylo-1092-00/



  • thompsoc75
    last year

    @julials14 that looks so good!! (and love your paper towel holder in the island- I asked for one but im not sure I’ll have room sadly) thank you for sharing your pics and exactly what was used!

  • Vickie Velis
    last year

    Love it! How did you get the color so uniform?

  • julials14
    last year

    @Vickie Velis we just used 2 coats of the Renner and followed the instructions. I think using a wood conditioner first would help if you're having problems with uniformity.

  • thompsoc75
    last year

    @julials14 just want to double check- your island only has the Renner clear coat on it? No stain or color mixed in?

  • julials14
    last year

    @Johnson Brothers Contracting that is true. I hand selected most of this wood myself because the carpenter had many pieces I didn't like. I wanted classic rift white oak. There is a bit of variation in color but not too much, which is what I was going for.


    @thompsoc75, yes - no stain or color. Just the Renner, which changed the color just a little bit and for the better, in my opinion. We tested it out first and liked it much more than anything else I'd tried (various colors of minwax and rubio monocoat, envirolak, etc. plus the things my carpenter tried). Here is a photo of one of the floating shelves we used as a test piece with the envirolak sample at the bottom and the renner at the top and just the raw wood in the middle. The envirolak seemed to bring out the wood grain too much for my taste and read a bit yellow. I liked the softer look of the renner - not too peach or orange or yellow.


  • julials14
    last year

    And here is a photo where we flipped the wood sample piece upside down so the envirolak is at the top and the renner is at the bottom because lighting makes a difference.


  • kathyrene
    last year

    We just went through this with our white oak caninets! We ended up using American Finishes High Preformance water based flat. It was great, No yellowing, uv protected and non yellowing. 3 coats.


  • niachaffee
    last year

    Kathyrene is the product you mention just a clear coat?

  • Mariya Trofimovich
    last year
    last modified: last year

    @julials14 quick question. I was wondering how you applied the product? Looks like the instructions say to use a spray application with a catalyst. Did you guys do that or did you just brush it on? Thanks!

  • Cindy
    last year
    last modified: last year

    @julials14 Your cabinets turned out beautiful! That’s exactly what I want. Could you also share what floors your used? They go very nicely with the cabinet color. I’ve been losing sleep over all these decisions.


    Kathyrene Yours turned out beautiful too. Did you use quarter sawn?

  • julials14
    last year

    Hi Cindy,


    I hear you! I think I went to over 11 flooring stores during a 4 month period and every time I found one I liked it was either going to take months to arrive or was way too expensive or looked completely different than the sample when I ordered a box of it. So frustrating. I


    really like our final choice which is the Pescara color by Opus floors. https://opushardwood.com/ It looks darker in the photo on their site than it does in real life.


    I ordered two boxes to be sure there wasn't a wide variety in quality or color because I wanted the planks to be fairly uniform. I don't like the look of some planks being significantly darker than the others. We've had them since the end of May and are very happy except with the stair noses which we had to order for our sunken living room. They don't seem sealed or something. The color rubbed off of one part when I tried to clean a spot (I included a photo below). I need to contact the company. But all of the regular planks have been very durable so far. I wonder if they had run out of stair noses and tried to create these on the spot at the last minute.




  • robinp7
    last year

    julials14, which Renner product did you use for your clear coat? Was it water based? I went to their website and there are lots of different product options. Any further information would be helpful. I like how your cabinets turned out, and after reading through this conversation, it seems to me that the product you chose was the best quick, easy, and beautiful solution to achieving the look I want with my white oak cabinets.


    To others who have posted here, it appears that some of you have used plain cut white oak, rather than rift cut. Due to the current cost of rift oak, I'm considering using rift oak ply for the panels on my shaker doors, and plain cut boards for the trim around the flat panel. Has anyone combined plain cut with rift? I don't prefer the look of quartersawn, and am hoping that the cathedral look of the plain cut won't be too obvious if it's just used around the perimeter of my doors and drawers. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Thanks so much!

  • Cindy
    last year

    julials14, Thanks for your reply. Sorry to hear about your issue with the stair nose. I know thats frustrating after spending so much time researching and picking the flooring out. Please let me know what the company says. I’m so glad I found this thread. I’ve been driving my husband crazy between the cabinets and flooring. I’m like you, I like a little variation in the flooring but not drastic changes. I like it all to blend without huge color changes from one plank to the other. Very hard to find just the right amount. Yours turned out beautiful and your cabinets are fantastic. I’m also very nervous about the rift cut white oak cabinets showing too much variation or a dingy greyish color. I’m working with a custom cabinet maker so hopefully he will be patient with me so I can get them right.

  • Winnnney
    last year

    @julials14 Your cabinets turned out so pretty. I have been struggling with different stain colors for my white oak cabinets and I think your solution is the best and easiest. I would appreciate if you could share the Renner product detailed information as the website you shared is no longer valid.

  • Connie Bidne
    last year

    I tried to look up American Finishes. I’m wondering if they meant General Finishes?

  • Trish Jun
    last year

    @thomaspartyof6 thank you for the pics and comments, I know your comment is older but we are struggling with this now. I see your informative post about the Sayerlack product from Sherwin Williams but what I was slightly confused about is is that a one-stop product we need (just order based on the parts number you posted) or is that something you mixed with a little white paint or some kind of special mix that we can't get simply by ordering? Our cabinet person is going to try some things but I'd love to present him with an idea as well to make sure we can get this done without undue delay. Any help would be so appreciated!

  • Jessica Lorraine
    last year

    I'm using Ciranova hardwax oil smoke with added hardener on my cabinets. Looks just like raw wood, doesn't raise the grain, and has a silky texture.

  • Cindy
    last year

    I’m scared of the coloring issues with the white oak cabinets so I may just decide to go with walnut. I’m planning on doing a two toned kitchen but still trying to decide between the white oak or walnut.

  • everpark
    last year

    @Cindy I contemplated that as well. As walnut is my absolute favorite and I have many pieces in my home made of that. I don’t think you can go wrong with a walnut kitchen. It will probably be more timeless than white oak. Although I did do my kitchen in half white oak and half white cabinets. If I had a house with more light I’d go with walnut.

  • Jessica Lorraine
    last year

    Coloring the white oak a nice raw light color is tricky because a wet look brings out the amber undertones - so you need to either a) use a low/no sheen product to reduce the gloss or b) use something that has a slight blue to blue violet tint to cancel the tones out. For tinting, something lightly smokey will work. The white washed stains are ok but they can look a little unnatural and sometimes pinkish.


    Standard oil poly looks "wetter" than water based poly so it will always look more amber. If you are ok with the poly texture then use a matte as the topcoat. I say only the topcoat because with matte poly if you add layers of matte it can look cloudy and unnatural. So use a higher gloss on the base coats and do a matte on the top.


     For poly I like to do 1-2 coats of General Finishes gloss then flat matte on the top. Wood look by Ciranova looks great but it's more expensive. I like the feel of oil though so the only option for the very light raw look is to do a hardwax oil. Rubio monocoat is better known but I found their products to look overall darker and more cersused than I'd like. So that's why I went with Ciranova, it's much more natural looking. It's from europe and pretty expensive though, but I could find some samples on Amazon which saves some money.


     One other thing to remember that European/French oak is much different than American white oak. It's easier to get lighter and more neutral tones on it. So when you see pictures of the nordic looking white oak floor it's probably not American white oak. And expert cabinet/flooring makers use methods that are much harder and generally impactical to DIY- UV lacquer, bleaching/fuming, reactive staining. Hope that helps

  • lisawilm
    last year

    @everpark not sure if you are reading this, but for the Sherwin Williams Pure White, do you know what sheen it was (e.g., flat, satin, etc.)


  • everpark
    last year

    It was satin. I don’t think it would really matter as it’s such a small amount.

  • knaus12k
    11 months ago

    @julials14 thank you for sharing the link to the Renner product. The link no longer seems to be valid, I'm wondering if you have a picture of the Renner product you used or know which of these you used? https://tlfinish.com/product-category/wood-finishes/topcoat-sealer/. Thank you!

  • HU-460507226
    10 months ago

    Whats counter name? those photo sample look gorgeous!!

  • silva_partyof5
    8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    @julials14 - I am hoping you see this! I also tried the link for the Renner product but it says page not found. :( Where did you source this from? I also am in CA and cannot find anyone who carries Renner here.

  • blueskysunnyday
    8 months ago

    Following

  • Mary Alexis Gardner
    7 months ago

    I messaged Renner, this was their reply.


    Good evening,

    The replacement product for the 1092 is the following link https://tlfinish.com/product/yo-xxm718-natural-look-water-based-self-sealer/
    This is a much more durable product and performs better.
    Let us know if you have any questions !
    Best regards,
    Harvey Zook

  • lisawilm
    7 months ago

    I bought this based on your recommenation and am not disappointed. Except the place I bought it at said catilyze at 10% lol hope that percentage worked too.

  • tavi9876
    7 months ago

    Following - planning a new kitchen in the next few months and want rift/quarter-sawn white oak.

  • H Taylor
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    We literally just finished installing our white oak plain sawn cabinets and i tried alot of stains. i found rubio monocoat was amazing and kept the beautiful color of the white oak without turning it yellow at all. My cabinet people had never heard of rubio monocoat and said it was a great product to use. i love the color!





  • zengi
    6 months ago

    Can you please share the exact product that you used? Thanks

  • H Taylor
    6 months ago

    Yes it’s called Rubio Monocoat

  • H Taylor
    6 months ago

    In natural

  • sillysquares
    6 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    You have to put some sort of a slight white wash on the oak first and then clear coat it. That is the trick, to camoflauge the orange/yellow tone and also stops it from darking so much.


  • tavi9876
    6 months ago

    @sillysquares - in your comment above you said you used a whitewash stain from Rove and Dwell. When I look at your IG, you said you used Old Barn’s Living whitewash stain. Just curious, did you use two different white wash stains?

  • zengi
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    @tavi9876

    https://roveanddwell.com/products/copy-of-farmhouse-exterior-stain?variant=31876928667709


    I think Rove and Dwell sell the Old Barn's Living whitewash (see link above)

  • HU-729299254
    5 months ago

    Hi. i love your cabinet color choice. i have maple cabinets with a hiney finish but want to refinish them to this color. do you thinknits do able with maple to attain that white oak look?

  • tina321
    5 months ago

    @Sillysquares Such a perfect finish you did! Can you please share the White wash dilution ratio or did you use it full strength and just wipe off after 5 minutes. This is the detail that is the key.Thank you

  • sillysquares
    5 months ago


    tavi9876 Old Barn and Rove and Dwell are the same company, they changed names.

  • bzirbes
    5 months ago

    I am doing built-ins and have been following this question as well. This is where we landed with a stain from Hirshfields.

  • tina321
    4 months ago

    @sillysquares I've lost the thread were I was discussing with you. Can you please tell me your pinterest name thank you

  • cvdpnw
    4 months ago

    @lgio71 where did you find the kitchen cabinet sample that you shared with your cabinet maker? I'm trying to do the same thing and having a hard time finding stain samples. Thanks.

  • Jana Riehm
    last month

    @thomaspartyof6 I know you posted forever ago, but love the cabinet pictures you did! How are they holding up? Can you confirm what kind of wood you used for the cabinets?

  • thomaspartyof6
    last month

    To this day - I still love my cabinets too. The painted uppers are paint-grade maple & the lowers are select rift-sawn white oak (I get lots of rave reviews from those that see them first hand). We had a quality craftsmen, and that was key…but the wood & paint & stain has held up really well. With white uppers & wood lowers - I find I rarely have to clean them. Just spot clean when messes happen...dust on occasion but they’ve held up very well. So has my faucet




    in case any skeptics have wondered. Powder-coat mgfr black paint finish & not an ounce of hard water stains (makes all the difference).

    Any way ..here are some pics. Good luck on your project!

  • Jana Riehm
    last month

    Thank you so much! So happy you are still enjoying them! I just got through reading this huge long thread, appreciate all the time you took to answer everyone's questions! Mine included!

  • tavi9876
    last month

    thomaspartyof6 thank you for the beautiful pictures. Did you stain your lowers or just use a water-based top coat. If you stained, would you share the color or mix?

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