I have an issue with some areas on stain absorption in my birch cabinets. We sanded, pre-conditioned and stained the cabinets but now have some odd issues with the way it is setting. Not sure what the problem is. enter image description here

  • The patterns are weird but it looks like the wood got wetted at some point. Even after drying this changes the way the wood surface absorbs stain. Was the material dimensioned at home or are you refinishing commercial work?
    – Graphus
    Jan 8 '18 at 8:18
  • It's my home. It is possible they got wet between sanding and stain. Didn't notice anything at the time thou.
    – user4667
    Jan 8 '18 at 18:07
  • 1
    Regardless of cause unfortunately the same remedy is called for, stripping, scraping or sanding back to bare wood to begin again, Obviously test for even absorption before proceeding with the re-do!
    – Graphus
    Jan 9 '18 at 8:11

I'm thinking the wood absorbed water in different areas before the stain was applied? I would try sanding it down, letting it dry for a couple days, and reapplying to see if it helps? Then apply a sealant to the top.


I would seal with shellac or wipe on poly top coat and re-apply stain. Or look into Gel Stain.

  • How does that deal with the existing staining though Rick? And conventional staining can't go on after any poly top coat because it needs to be absorbed by the wood.
    – Graphus
    Jan 11 '18 at 7:32
  • you can still use regular stain when a thin coat of sealant has been put on. It won't absorb as much, but that's the point, to cover blotches. Jan 12 '18 at 18:20
  • I know how blotching occurs thanks! But sizing/pre-sealing/conditioning is to counter native blotching, not this kind of staining, and as I say it doesn't cover how the OP should deal with the existing problem which is what the Question is all about.
    – Graphus
    Jan 13 '18 at 6:54
  • you can still use stain on a sealed piece of wood. It doesn't absorb much, but it could "cover" blotches. That's why you use thin shellac or wipe on poly. Jan 15 '18 at 23:50
  • Stain absorbs quite a bit less on wood only treated with commercial "conditioner" (often half or worse), if any sealer stronger than this is used colouring effect will be consequently lower, ergo little chance of fixing the current problem. And remember the wood has already been treated with conditioner and you've suggested additional sealing on top of this, meaning the colouring ability of any stain can only be minimal.
    – Graphus
    Jan 16 '18 at 5:48

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