Staining cypress

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Forum topic by tscd22 posted 09-04-2017 07:55 PM 2547 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 1001 days

09-04-2017 07:55 PM

I’ve been avoiding finishing a project for over a year because I am not good at staining and I never quite happy with the result.

I need to stain a bench in side my house. It covers air ducts in a loft. We had to replace the carpet that was in the loft and surrounding the air ducts on a limited budget (thanks to a bad cat). The bench is over 21’ long, so I decided to use cypress from a local mill since it is cost efficient and I like the grain in the wood. I need to darken it since it is near a cedar railing and ceiling. The natural color is just too light.

The wood doesn’t seem to blotch, but I’m having a problem with grain reversal. The grain is one of the best features of this wood. I have been testing stains, colors and conditioners for months, but everything seems to muddle the grain or reverse it. I’m afraid to take the leap and do this bench (I’ve resanded and refinished almost everything I’ve attempted). I’m also not very good at visualizing the outcome, which makes me hesitant to start staining.

Is there a way to avoid or limit the grain reversal? Or do I need to listen to my husband and “quit being such a perfectionist”?

Thanks for any advice!

The small piece and test piece have been sanded. The long bench has not been sanded, joined or prepped in any way.

5 replies so far

View EricTwice's profile


248 posts in 1139 days

#1 posted 09-04-2017 08:15 PM

Grain reversal is caused by the softer summer wood absorbing more color than the harder winter growth.

There are professional stains that will go on evenly, but you will loose the grain all together, I do not recommend them.

If you want it dark you should probably learn to live with grain reversal.

-- nice recovery, They should pay extra for that mistake, Eric E.

View Aj2's profile


2650 posts in 2403 days

#2 posted 09-04-2017 08:46 PM

I like the natural color of Cypress so I’ve never tried to change it. The small amounts of stains I have are General finish so if I were in your shoes I’d try experimenting With GF.

-- Aj

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 2092 days

#3 posted 09-04-2017 09:01 PM

cypress will stain ok if you make sure to sand it good. With staining you get what you get.

You could look into tints and dyes as well.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View LittleShaver's profile


609 posts in 1225 days

#4 posted 09-05-2017 06:09 PM

You might also test with any topcoat you have planned. any topcoat will change the look of the stained wood. While you’re at it, you might try a topcoat with no stain.

I assume that is the cedar rail showing in the pictures. Looks a lot grayer than any of your test patches.

Good luck. Or as my daughter once told me “If you can’t match it, clash it!”

-- Sawdust Maker

View tscd22's profile


5 posts in 1001 days

#5 posted 09-16-2017 07:45 PM

Thanks for the replies. Even though hurricane Irma has gotten in the way of my responses, I was able to do a little work on the project. I finally decided to go with early American stain. It’s not perfect, but seems to blend well.

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