How To Match Stain Colors And What Makes It Tricky

Keep The Color You Love For Your Fence Or Deck At Your Fort Worth Home
After staining a fence

Learning how to match stain colors can be tricky for several reasons. You can find out why and avoid the same mistakes many people make when they try.

What you want to know is in the post below-

It Should Be Easy, Right?

“All we have to do is match the colors and even kids can do that.”

Rick frowns as he thinks about what Lucy just said. “I don’t know, I feel like it can’t be that easy. It never is.” Rick does have some experience with stains, mostly what the staining crew told him while staining his fence.

Fence staining before and after

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Lucy sighs. “What do you think we should do?”

Rick pulls out his phone and looks up ‘how to match stain colors’ on Google. Lucy walks over and stands behind him so she can see too. After doing some searching, the couple finds this-

Find out the cost to stain a fence in Fort Worth >>

Why It’s So Hard To Do

“Wow, this might be harder than I thought…”

The process for matching stain colors is complicated. You have to take into account the stain’s transparency as well as the age and style of the wood. Stains can be transparent, semi-transparent, or semi-solid.

Newly stained fence

A stain can look different from one species of wood to the next because they hold stains differently. Then the age of the wood affects how a stain will look too. The fibers on new wood are still tight and it has a higher moisture content than the old.

“And that’s not even all of the complications, look further down,” Rick notes as he scrolls.

Say you stain a fence using a medium brown stain. A few years pass and you want to freshen up the stain so you reuse that same medium brown stain, but it turns out darker than the original stain job! One or two shades darker, too.

“Well, let’s see what they recommend we do,” Lucy says as Rick scrolls down.

How To Match Stain Colors Successfully

The first step to matching stain colors is to get a finisher’s color wheel. Use it to find a stain color close to yours (err on the lighter side). Buy stain samples so you can mix and test them. Clean the wood and apply the stain to the same wood as your project, let it dry, and see if it matches.

Here’s the best way to clean your fence >>

Different types of wood stain

“Can’t we just contact the guy who stained our fence and ask him?” Lucy asks. Rick laughs at how simple her answer is compared to the process they just read. “We can and that would be easier. Hopefully, he still has the information.”

“Speaking of information, there’s more further down.”

More Useful Information You Need To Know

A finisher’s color wheel has common stain colors on it. When you line them up you can see how they mix. If several look similar choose a lighter stain because it’s easier to make a stain look darker than to lighten it.

“We’ll definitely need that if we’re going to try this on our own.”

Color samples take time to dry out especially for oil-based penetrating stains. The best practice is to apply the stain in a well-lit area and let it dry. The color then is the true color of the stain. This could take a day in the hot months or up to a few weeks in winter.

“A few weeks?! It’s a good thing it’s warm right now.”

With a re-stain, it’s best to apply the color sample onto the surface being re-stained. If you apply the sample onto a new board the color will be different from the wood being re-stained.

“That makes sense, like painting on a blank canvas vs one that already has paint on it.”

Go a shade darker on re-stains or go from transparent to semi-transparent. Going darker or thicker gives a more uniform look and helps hide areas exposed to the elements or that have been washed out by sprinkler heads.

What Are We Going To Do?

“This is more work than I want to put in,” Rick admits. “Let’s just contact a professional stainer and see if they can help us.” Lucy agrees and the couple sets out to find some help.