Avoiding Beige-Creep and Blotchiness
Midwest Prefinishing developed its ProFinish staining process to accentuate woodgrain and its beautiful variations. Sometimes, a dye stain or wash coat is specified to assure uniformity. But the trade-off is often a loss of clarity and vitality. The wood tends to look like a beige neighborhood.
Does your neighborhood suffer from beige-creep?
During the last housing boom, developers built beige neighborhoods. They applied beige vinyl siding for its neutral, warm, and earthy color. Beige fades less than darker colors, producing fewer complaints. It offends no one (while not exciting anyone either). It’s safe and salable. But viewed from a distance, beige-creep is dull, lifeless, and even a bit unreal. Remember the sameness in The Truman Show?
When is sameness and uniformity required and appropriate?
In commercial and architectural applications, it looks professional. The wood veneer is select and beautiful. But the specter of blotchiness looms over any maple, birch, and even cherry veneers, regardless of grade. So, the AWS Standard, Edition 1 (Appendix B), suggests remedies to mitigate the problem.
Blotching occurs because some wood species exhibit an uneven distribution of large and small pores in their structure. The occurrence of this is readily apparent in such hardwood species as Maple and Birch and, to a lesser degree, in Cherry. This irregular distribution of pores usually causes an uneven absorption of stain, hence, an apparent blotchy appearance in the finish. Reduction of the blotching condition can sometimes be achieved by proper sanding, wash coating…or by choosing non-penetrating pigments, such as dyes, alcohol stains, or glaze.
Unfortunately, excessive sanding removes the veneer; wash coating prevents stain penetration and often produces a lighter hue; and dyes lay the colorant over the veneer’s surface, obscuring the woodgrain. Nevertheless, these are necessary techniques if uniformity and sameness are the goals. They’re also necessary when the veneer is sub-par (seen most often on residential, production doors).
Applying the best solution
Midwest Prefinishing always prefers to finish for clarity. You might say we’re an advocate for wood’s natural properties. Some uneven absorption can add to a door’s uniqueness. But to mitigate excessive blotchiness and when specified, we will sand, then apply a dye stain.
In the end, expect some give-and-take when seeking uniformity. You will give up some woodgrain clarity in the pursuit of uniform sameness. Whenever possible, we strive to avoid both Beige-creep and the extremes of blotchiness as well.