How to Get the Perfect Black Stain

It's Themed Furniture Makeover Day and it's all about BLACK.  This month, the piece picked me since a client wanted her dining room table restyled in black with a red undertone.

Such a gorgeous pedestal table to begin with but the client is decorating a new home and wanted a whole new look for her breakfast room.

The details on the pedestal are fantastic, aren't they?

After throughly cleaning the entire table with a 50/50 mix of denatured alcohol and water, I painted the pedestal with a base coat of General Finishes Tuscan Red.  This coat didn't have to be perfect since it was getting another layer of black.

Once dry, I painted on a coat of General Finishes Lamp Black.  To reveal some of the red undercoat, I used a sanding block to slightly distress.

Now, I was ready to start the top, which is where this project became tricky.  And by tricky, I mean the most challenging project I've tackled to date. Lots of tears and hair loss were probably involved.  

One coat of Lamp Black and the top was perfect and buttery smooth.  That is until I applied the top coat and it turned into a streaky mess.

After sanding, repainting and testing 4 different varieties of top coats (all my favorites, I might add), the top was still streaky.   I haven't mentioned yet the table has 4 leaves, which were all putting up the same resistance as the table top.

That is a good man right there.  Triple Threat to the rescue after finding me in a puddle of tears at the prospect of starting over a fifth time.  Since I had tried four different types of top coats with equally disastrous results, we decided something in the original parquet wood must be adversely reacting with the top coats.  Time to sand down to bare wood and stain instead of paint.

After ELEVEN hours of sanding (the table was like sanding stone), this amazing parquet design was the rainbow after the sanding storm.

After seeing what was underneath all the original finish, I was secretly happy that the paint didn't work.  

I started wiping on a black gel stain and this is what happened.  It was turning the top brown instead of black!  I had three different types of black stain on hand and each one turned out like brown. Now, I am in complete freak-out mode.  None of the products or processes I've always used were working on this table.   

After talking to some of the guys at Woodcraft, they recommended General Finishes dye stain in ebony.  It was my last ditch hope, so I said a prayer and got to work applying it.

Winner, winner chicken dinner!  Finally, we have black! To really get the ebony finish I wanted,  I had to apply and let sit for several minutes before wiping off the excess.  But, we finally had a beautiful BLACK top.  I loved that it was dark and rich but didn't hide the parquet design we worked so hard to uncover.

The table was going in a breakfast room and I knew it would get lots and lots of use, so I applied four coats of polyurethane.  I lightly sanded with 320# sandpaper between coats making sure to wipe off the dust with a clean cloth before applying next coat.

I've learned that when projects don't work as expected, I learn the most by being forced to solve the problem.  Growth always happens when you have to stretch your skills.

After researching ebonizing (staining wood black), some woods are heavily resistant due to lack of tannin content.  If this happens to you, try using dye stain, which penetrates the wood much deeper and you're more likely to achieve the ebony finish you want.

If you're experiences areas that just won't stain, I have a tutorial to help that problem here.

Someone commented on my Facebook page that I was the Furniture Whisperer the other day.  After wrangling this table for a few weeks and finally being able to stain it into submission, I feel like I can totally claim that title now.  :)

My client is in the process of decorating her new breakfast area and I can't wait to see it all put together.

My talented blogger friends have lots of inspiring pieces in black, so stay around and check them out!

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