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I know you can take a color sample to a paint store (or some hardware stores) and get them to match it and mix you up a custom batch.

Is a similar service provided anywhere for stain? The color charts from the stain manufacturers sometimes help, but often don't have an exact match for what I am looking for.

I know that stain is somewhat of an inexact science, and I'd probably need to provide an unstained sample piece of wood for the type I intend to use it on, but it sounds at least marginally possible to get custom stains based on a color sample you are trying to match. Am I asking for the moon, or is there some source that provides a service like this?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I would buy something close and tint it yourself. You can run sample swatches on scraps of your unfinished lumber and stop when you get it right. This will also allow you to experiment with different techniques to see which is the best match, e.g. how long to let the stain soak in before wiping it off.

See http://www.ehow.com/way_5938323_can-add-tint-wood-stain_.html

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A professional can at least make a guess and come close. I know that floor refinishers routinely stain floors to try and match other floors in the house.

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We have wood paneling that we needed to stain to match the originals (90 years old). The paint shop was useless so we took in samples of the raw new wood and old wood and stained them on the spot. What we found was that:

a) none of the stains matched their sample blocks in the shop

b) the colours changed over an hour. Matching was very hit or miss - it may look great in the shop but terrible later.

c) we had to blend two different stains. We had to choose one with the right shade, then another to add a bit more yellow.

My missus spent a whole day blending two stains in different ratios then waiting for the samples to dry. Eventually, we ended up using a 1:10 blend.

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It will even look different depending on the type of light you view them under. Two colours can look the same unter one light but not another.. –  Walker Dec 21 '10 at 12:34

I very much doubt they could match as well as they do with paint. You could probably get close, if you're asking someone who knows what they're talking about and has experience working with various types of stains and woods.

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