Tips and Tricks

Create Grey Stain look without Stripping

Stripping is a lot of hard, gross, goopy work and lets face it no one likes to do it. So, I recently created this beautiful grey stain look without stripping down to the raw wood.

Lets talk about when to strip furniture for just a minute. When the existing finish is failing it is absolutely necessary to strip before proceeding. I go into more detail on how to strip furniture on my post about 3 options to strip furniture. Flaking, soft, or very dirty finishing this technique will not work.

My client wanted a medium soft grey stain on her dinning room set and I cringed at having to strip the entire set down to raw wood. Toning wood is very common as I typically say you can always go darker but not always lighter. I tested out an old cabinet down and with some color manipulating I was able to achieve the perfect grey!

The Process

Standard oak is a honey color which has orange tones in it. So I very carefully selected the colors based off of the orange tones. Cue in the color wheel, I need blue a blueish grey to help me cut out the orange tones. It won’t look to bluish promise.

Here is my sample door

Here is my nice honey oak cabinet door. Now of course if you know me you know what I am going to say you need to do first………. proper prep work.

  1. Cleaning: Denatured alcohol and water with my favorite mirlon scuff pad. Wipe it all clean and then start sanding. Used a 220 grit sandpaper. I don’t want too rough of scratches but I do need to scratch the finish up enough so I have something for my new products to adhere to.

Uneeda sandpaper and sponge sanders are my go to brand. (not and ad I just really like their sandpaper)

2. Glazing: First started with my white glaze Winter White by General Finishes. Apply a generous amount on and used a large deck brush till it was almost dry and my brush drags. You may also want to keep your Extender on hand just incase.

The reason I started with a hand glazing is because the grain will push out sprayed on toner colors so you almost have to start by brushing on the color.

Glazed winter white and one coat of my toner.

3. Next up: Toning, I took my clear finish and added 20% of the greystone stain to my finish and sprayed on one coat. If you do not have a spray gun you can sponge brush this on. Just be sure to have some extender on hand for longer brushing periods.

Toning: Toning is a transparent top coat. This is a mixture of a paint or stain to gradually achieve a color. Most finish manufactures suggest only 20% of a stain added to your finish (so be sure to check with your finish manufacture), or you could get a finish failure like fish eyes.

4. Glazing: Then I mixed the winter white and greystone with my chip brush and brushed it on the door. Finished off with my deck brush until the brush drags.

Finishing Up (you are almost done)

5. Toning and Top coat: Sprayed on one more coat of toner and scuffed. Then one clear coat and she is all completed! (For easy dust removal use these dusting rags) You can still see all of the grain and it doesn’t look like honey orange anymore!! Your done the perfect grey stain!

Side note: Every project is different from color to wood type which may require different steps. So I highly suggest you test the back of a door, or inside of a table leg before doing your entire project. I have tweeked this formula a few times some with less steps and different color outcomes. Follow my instagram if you want to see more of my creations.

Some of my other projects:

This is another project I did using this formula however this is mahogany wood so I was a little worried that it would not turn out but it looks great!

Products used

UPDATE

I have been asked how the table is doing. It has been 6 months and it looks fantastic! Check it out for yourself:

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Tara Lou
<p>Mama, wife, furniture connoisseur, small business owner, nature-lover, homebody, hunter.</p>

8 thoughts on “Create Grey Stain look without Stripping

  1. Hello Tara. Thank you so much for sharing your technique. It looks great.
    Would you mind in quickly 1, 2, 3 steps how you did. I got lost right after you added the white paint when you said next up toning… Also you mentioned spray paint which I haven’t seen on the products you used. I really want to try your technique so I really appreciate your response.
    Thanks again!
    Renata Graf

    1. Renata, I updated the blog for more information on products used. I sprayed using HVLP spray system however you can still create this with brushing on as well.

  2. So 1st coat is white glaze. 2nd coat is the toner. 3rd is white glaze/greystone mixed (is this a 50/50 ratio?). 4th coat is another layer of toner. 5th coat is just a top coat. How long is the drying time between coats? Do you sand between coats?

    1. Elisa, yes it was a 50/50 ratio. By the time I was done with the last piece I was able to go back and start at the beginning. So maybe 30 mins. I didn’t do this all in one day though. I left over night after half of it. I don’t sand between the glaze coats but I do between the toned coats. Very light scuff with a mirlon pad. Test in a small area. I just redid an oak desk similar but didn’t need as many steps I only did two glaze coats and a top coat.

  3. I’m gonna try this on a small project first.Then maybe the kitchen cabinets. Would love to see additional photos is you have them, Thank You!

    1. Be sure to follow my Instagram to see more photos at Taraloubadger Also I think that’s a great idea to test a small piece before doing your kitchen. Maybe even doing the back side of a door to start. Let me know if you have any more questions.

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