I'm having some old wooden windows restored. They currently have a dark stain with (the remains of) a transparent finish, and in an ideal world I'd want to stay with that. However the wood is in bad shape in some areas and will end up with some filler to patch decayed areas.

Is a transparent stain and finish going to look terrible? I'm not expecting perfection, but I don't want them to look like crap. Do I just need to bite the bullet and accept either paint or an opaque stain? Can anyone point me to some pictures? (I've tried googling for images but have not had much luck.)

  • it depends on how much work you're willing to put in, and how badly they are damaged. DIY filler made from it's own sawdust takes stain better than plain filler, so do that an a minimum. If time+money is no object, custom plug patches can be extracted from hidden parts and expertly matched with the grain of the visible parts. More simply, you might be able to swap prominent damaged pieces with edge pieces that blinds/curtains will hide. Lastly, go ahead and stain and see how it looks; paint if needed.
    – dandavis
    Oct 30, 2019 at 17:04
  • I've also seen the advice to stain first, and then color match the filler to the stain, because you can't expect the stain to take to the filler the same way it does to the wood no matter what kind of filler you use.
    – EricS
    Nov 1, 2019 at 16:55
  • you might consider some furniture finish markers to touch up the patch; with practice you can get a pretty good result.
    – dandavis
    Nov 1, 2019 at 16:57
  • @dandavis Not a bad idea, thanks!
    – EricS
    Nov 1, 2019 at 21:34


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