Based on a 14 x 17" sample the contractor showed us, we bought cherry veneer bathroom cabinets with a cinnamon finish.

Most (not all) of the drawers have splotchy staining (see photo). The splotchiness bothers us, but we are also not wood experts. Is the splotchiness due to expected variations that will/should be less noticeable as the wood darkens; or should we raise a concern with the contractor?

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cherry veneer with splotchy staining

  • As lay people, the splotchy/blotchiness looks like fat random oily fingerprints because there's no sense of pattern either in line with or in contrast to the grain. But maybe our eyes need to be trained to look for something different?
    – RJo
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 4:17
  • the lesson is, never stain cherry :)
    – aaron
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 11:40

2 Answers 2


Oh goodness! Your cherry is blotching when stained? Heavens!

Sorry. Couldn't resist. Cherry is famous for blotching. Here's a decent article.

As it states, the usual approach is a wash coat of sealer (such as shellac) to make the absorption more uniform. Your contractor didn't do this, as it would add another step (and more cost) to their finishing process. And even then, blotching can still happen, although it will be reduced. Particularly if your cabinets are not exposed to sunlight, the blotchiness will diminish with age but not disappear.

  • The article pointed to by @whatroughbeast was helpful in understanding what happened and what to expect as the wood ages. Also, since I first posted 2 months ago, I think the wood has started to darken a bit, and the blotchiness is bothering me less. Maybe it's a combination of lots of sun (the room has a big skylight) and becoming accustomed to the look ...
    – RJo
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 21:49

I have a similarly stained cherry tallboy that has the same, or very similar, markings. Not all over, though. With mine their contrast seems to vary with the angle I look at them. I consider them to be part of the character of the wood.

stained cherry tallboy detail

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