getting vintage dark finish on old doors


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Old 03-01-08, 06:54 AM
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getting vintage dark finish on old doors

We have 6 old doors (from about 1920) in our condo. We had all the paint stripped off and would like to stain them. The look I am going for is that relatively uniform dark brown that you see in older homes from say the turn of the century to the 20's. The grain would be not real visible but still present. Does anyone know what should be used for that? I would think that regular wood stain would not work well for this. The guy who stripped them thinks they are birch. I also did a fair amount of filling with Elmers stainable wood filler for any damage I found and would want that to blend in well too. Thanks.
Dave
 
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Old 03-01-08, 05:48 PM
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I read an interesting article once that actually suggested adding minute amounts of roofing tar to oil based stains to simulate the deep, dark, golden appearance of antique woodwork. Apparently the roofing tar contains soluble solids that mimic the addition of darker pigments. i'll have to see if I can find that article.

Needless to say, any additives you would introduce into the delicate balance of chemicals that are already in oil based stains could affect the dry time as well as the adhesion of a finish coat. But apparently the author of the article had used that technique with some success. Although I've never tried it, I thought I'd mention it as a possibility.

Ammonia fuming is also a technique used to darken wood, and you could research that, although I must warn that it is something that is best done by trained professionals, since the chemicals used need to be industrial strength and are therefore very dangerous.
 
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Old 03-01-08, 06:39 PM
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I've never read an article about using roofing tar but I once worked for an outfit that was painting a bunch of new gov't housing. What they did was to scarf up a few left over shingles and throw them in a bucket of thinner - in a few days we had stain

Since I have no experience with ammonia fuming what I would do would be to 1st stain the wood as close as I could get it and then tint the 1st coat of poly/varnish to get the rest of the color.

I'd be a little leary of the "stainable" filler accepting stain correctly
 
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Old 03-01-08, 07:40 PM
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After thinking about it a little more, I would like to recreate like an Espresso stain not unlike what you see at West Elm. Would you just buy an espresso stain or are there tricks to get that finish?
 
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Old 03-02-08, 05:30 AM
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Keep a couple of things in mind.

1. The dark finishes on older furniture and doors is a result of a process called "photochemically reactive". This is a result of the ultraviolet rays of the sun on the older finish.

2. If you put the stain on the wood, it highlights the woodgrain. If you put the stain (or color!) in the finish it opaques the woodgrain. The reason the original doors look dark is the darkness of the finish, not necessarily the darkness of the stain put on the pieces originally.

About the only "safe" way for you to create a similar effect is to use a colored finish in a dark walnut or dark oak color. First stain your doors using dark oak stain and apply several light but even coats of your colored finish over the doors sanding lightly between coats.

The same process applies to the expresso staining should you decide to go that route.

Being indoors and during the cooler time of the year, I suggest you wait a couple of months before doing your work. Normally I'd suggest using a water based urethane finish, but in this case, because of the heavy tinting required, I recommend going with the oil based finishes.

Good luck!
 
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Old 03-05-08, 06:30 AM
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Thanks for your input guys. I decided to use danish oil in a 50:50 mixture of red mahogany and dark walnut, which gave a nice rich appearance to the doors. The only issue I have is where the panel molding meets the recessed door panel (each door is a large single panel surrounded by panel molding)there was a tiny line of residual white paint, which of course the danish oil will not cover. I tried to get this out with a scraper, razor blade and sandpaper but risk damaging the door panel, so i stopped. What could I use to cover/hide this small amount of residual paint? I was thinking of waxing the doors with a dark colored Briwax and letting some remain in the "crevices". Is there something else that would be better without harming the danish oil on the doors already? Thanks again.
Dave
 
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Old 03-05-08, 07:54 AM
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FYI for everyone - the material in shingles was called asphaltum. Used to be available as an artist oil color (probably still is).

For the paint lines, use artist oil color applied (thinned slightly) with the appropriate size art brush.

Van Dyke Brown or Burnt or Raw Umber should give a good match.
 
 

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