General Question

squirbel's avatar

What is the best method to color an aspen wood project?

Asked by squirbel (4174points) March 24th, 2011

I’ve been reading up on it, and it seems stain is a very bad choice for aspen wood. Stain on aspen looks horrible, other DIY’s say. I chose aspen because I love the grain, but I want my project to be espresso colored.

What should I do?

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11 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Have you looked into primers for pinewood? It is applied before stain to minimize blotchy spots.I am not sure of it’s effectiveness,so I would try it on a piece of scrap wood first.
Good luck:)

augustlan's avatar

Since you love the grain, you’ll obviously want that to show through on your finished project. I’d probably go with brown paint, thinned down considerably with either water or glaze applied with a foam brush, using additional coats to deepen the color. You’ll probably need to sand it in between coats, and finish with clear poly.

squirbel's avatar

Aren’t the pre-stain wood conditioners for softwoods to fill in the pores of the softwood so that the stain will not saturate the wood? Aspen is a hardwood, and already not porous…

I will definitely try out the thinned out paint! Isn’t the grain on aspen beautiful?!

Wait…. I just read that aspen does not hold nails very well. :( /sad

Any other suggestions for wood with similar grain?

rooeytoo's avatar

Just using a polyurethane type varnish will color the wood slightly but the grain remains visible. Try that on a small piece. That is what I use on all my carvings because I like the grain and true wood color to show through. Then I use car wax to buff to a shine.

augustlan's avatar

@squirbel Yeah, I don’t think the conditioner will work with aspen. I made a bookcase out of aspen, and used glue and nails, and it’s holding together just fine.

If you want something with a similar grain pattern, can you tell me which of these images (all aspen) looks closest to what you like? Aspen seems to vary according to type.

augustlan's avatar

See here for close up views of several different woods that might work for you. Make sure you scroll down, to see them all. I’m thinking maybe maple, hickory, ash, or white oak.

squirbel's avatar

I think I will choose red oak since it is readily and cheaply available in my region. So let’s change the subject of the question to red oak? What’s the best method to color it espresso and still see the grain?

augustlan's avatar

Ok, according to this site:

Red Oak finishes and stains easily. It has none of the blotching problems that are associated with birch or maple. The open pores absorb more stain, so the grain pattern becomes quite evident when a dark stain is applied to red oak. If you hope to achieve a near glass like appearance with the top coat, it is almost always necessary to use a pore filler. For effect, try top coating a couple of times and then tint the pore filler a contrasting colour, fill the pores, sand and then top coat again. The effect is quite fascinating.

So it appears that you’ll be able to use a dark stain with decent results on this wood. Here is the guide to Minwax stain colors. Depending if you want it more to the brown side or more to the black side, maybe ebony, onyx, jacobean, classic black. A little lighter, but definitely brown, walnut.

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