Tips and Tricks

Create Grey Stain look without Stripping

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

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 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 one clear coat and she is all completed! You can still see all of the grain and it doesn’t look like honey orange anymore!! Your done the perfect grey stain!

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

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

3 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.

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