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Color Matching Wood Stains

Want to stain a new piece of furniture or find out how to match your stain to existing pieces? Find out how to do both with this wood stain matching guide!

stained dining set

Finding the right color or color combinations can be pretty challenging when you’re working on a project that requires you to match stain colors. But finding the right wood stain color can make a difference and help your work not become an eye-sore. So no matter the project, finding the right shade of stain is crucial.

Today, we’ll teach you how to match stain with the wood you’re working on, and we’ll review some excellent combinations of stain colors and wood types. Color matching doesn’t have to be complicated, and we’ll show you why.

How to Match Wood Stain

Ensuring your wood stain matches the wood you’re working with is vital to giving your project the “look” it deserves. Depending on what species of wood you’re working with, you may want to choose a specific color stain. But, first, let’s look at how to find the right wood matching stain for your project.

If you want a more modern look, choose a lighter translucent stain or aim for only one coat. Pinewood looks beautiful with a translucent stain, for example. But if you want to contrast a light space, choosing a darker red stain will make your piece pop and stand out beautifully against the surrounding area.

The type of stain you choose will also affect the outcome. For example, oil-based stains give the wood a more profound look that can accentuate the natural undertones. While a water-based stain highlights and brings out the color of the wood grain. But if you’re working with wood like pine, you’ll want to choose a gel-based stain to avoid blotching.

Before choosing a stain, it’s best to remember that some stains react differently to certain types of wood. Therefore, you’ll want to test the stain on a sample piece of wood before you start staining all of it. You’ll also want to look at the stain under different types of lighting as this could affect how it looks.

Some Popular Combinations

Now that you know how to match stain with wood let’s look at popular combinations that we think go great with any project. You can use these to take a lackluster piece of wood and turn it into something vibrant and eye-catching.

Cream Colors and Cherry

This color combination goes very well if you add a piece of furniture to a lighter-colored room or setting for contrast. The cherry stain is vibrant and stands out on the wood. When paired with cream-colored wood, you can experience the cherry stain’s full depth of colors.

This combination is perfect for furniture like a TV unit or a table and chair set. If you decide to stain, go this route for a table set; adding a cream-colored cloth on top will heighten the contrast and bring out the deep cherry tones.

Reclaimed Wood and Beige

This combination is excellent for those searching for an old-fashioned look. Using reclaimed wood means taking wood that has been repurposed and reusing it for furniture or other projects. The wood often comes from industrial backgrounds such as barrels, barns, factories, or warehouses.

You can then pair the stained wood with polished brass, steel, or other industrial styles of metal to bring your piece to life. For example, you could create a beautiful dining room table using the reclaimed stained wood on top of a polished steel base that would be perfect for any dining room set.

Want to find a coffee table with this color combination? Oak Unlimited has a variety of options!

Light With Natural Greens

This combination takes light-colored wood like pine, ash wood, or even maple wood and adds a subtle hue of green. Because of the natural green added to the wood, you can easily pair a piece of stained furniture, like a dresser or desk for your home office, with a houseplant to tie the entire look together.

This combination gives off a cool, natural look to any piece you’re working with and ties in nicely with a room with green decors like succulents, for example. You can add these additions on top to make the green stain stand out.

Dark Brown and Light Blue

This striking combination works well as the light blue stain pulls out the deep dark brown tones from the wood. It’s no wonder this combination is so popular. This wood and stain dynamic leaves a lasting impression. You’ll experience both the cold and warm hues anytime you see this combination.

This natural combination is excellent for any furniture piece you want to have a creative expressive feel without looking over-the-top or out of place. You can also find this combination often used in the traditional colors of Japan. For example, this is a go-to look for a set of cabinets in a kitchen with baby-blue walls.

Are you looking for handcrafted furniture made from wormy maple wood? Contact us at Oak Unlimited Furniture to request a custom quote!

Can Wood Stain be Color Matched?

Yes! One of the easiest ways to match wood stains is by asking your local paint store staff to match the colors. You’ll need to bring in a sample of stained wood from your project to receive an accurate match.

Stains can look differently depending on the piece of wood you’re using for your project. So first, choose a sample that displays the exact color and tone you want. You can also use this method for wood matching.

If you cannot do the first method, you can take a color chip fan wheel and hold it against your stained wood to find a match. You’ll want to match your grain and sapwood colors to find the right color.

Tinting Polyurethane

If you’re stained wood matching with new pieces, you may see that older, already stained wood that used oil-based polyurethane will have a slightly yellow tint. Unfortunately, this means that your new and old pieces may not match.

You can avoid this by tinting with polyurethane. You can create a suitable polyurethane tint by adding up to 10% of the stain to your polyurethane. Finish off with a coat of this mixture after your first couple of coats of stain. Ensure you use water-based products with other water-based products and vice versa with oil-based ones. Water and oil do not mix!


There are many different combinations of wood species and stains that you can use to create beautiful solid wood pieces. You can choose a popular combination like those listed above or create a unique blend. But if you decide to match an already stained piece of wood, take the safe route and bring a sample to a professional to be matched accurately. And remember, when you need to tint with polyurethane, don’t add anymore than 10% of your stain.

Good luck with your wood staining project!


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