I have a client that has me stumped. We installed a lovely new stone facade for a client, but their vision for the mantle has me at a loss. They like Minwax Carbon color stain, but want a deep color, non-grainy finish. The closest I've gotten is 2 coats on pre-stain conditioned Aspen, but it still has too much grain pattern. Any ideas on other species (tried all the usual ones, oak [too red], poplar [too green], pine [too grainy]) before I move into colored varnishes?

  • 4
    Aspen has too much grain showing?! Yikes. Is the client actually sure they want wood because it sounds like they want something pretty much featureless o_O For someone this picky I'd consider 'cheating', pick a fine-textured wood (like aspen or poplar), paint the wood to obscure 95% of what little grain variation there is and then use a coloured finish over the top. Needless to say you wouldn't tell them that's how you did it.
    – Graphus
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 23:19
  • Is their problem with the grain that they can see the color differences through the stain or that they can see the raised texture of the growth rings? Commented Aug 19, 2019 at 18:52
  • they don't like the color variation caused by the woodgrain. Commented Aug 19, 2019 at 19:42
  • I'm thinking I'll try the aspen with pre-stain conditioner, 3 coats of stain, then tint down some urethane with the stain... Commented Aug 19, 2019 at 19:43
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    Sounds like they want paint instead of stain....
    – gnicko
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 19:39

1 Answer 1


I suppose this answer is quite a bit too late for your customer, but I think what they were after is precisely what a glaze is for.

Typically you'd put down a clear coat to seal off the wood, then apply glaze and tool it to your desired depth. In this case I think something like Sherwood Van Dyke Brown would be a good choice. If you can't get it dark enough, put down another coat of glaze once it dries.

After that you can finish up with your clear coat.

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