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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I am new to this forum. I am working with a cabinet maker to build kitchen cabinets for us using rift white oak. We would like the wood to keep the same look with minimum color changes as much as possible after all the finish is applied. Our cabinet maker is using Sher-wood Water White Conversion Varnish as the top coat. Here's the link:


He said the "water white" here will yellow/amber the wood as if the wood is wet with water. When I called Sherwin Williams finishing facility, they claim it should not amber or yellow the wood. Can someone with experience with this conversion varnish confirms or denies this?

My cabinet maker is currently doing samples using his approach of applying wood conditioner and stain but because the wood conditioner and stain are oil based, they amber the wood. He is trying different stain color to try to reverse the effect but it ends up just looking artificial and very different then the "raw" unfinished wood. Has anyone with success achieving a finish with this conversion varnish while minimizing color changes?

Thanks!
 

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Has your contractor done a sample with CV only; no conditioner or stain? I think the only reason for conditioner is to prevent blotching. Without the stain, it shouldn't be needed (oak usually doesn't have blotching problems anyway). The CV alone should be water clear and shouldn't yellow over time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
He previously gave me three samples, one of which he said has no stain and just the CV and it had an amber color to it. I didn’t know anything about the wood conditioner so I didn’t ask. I just found out today after several attempts and not getting the color right that he used an oil based wood conditioner. I reached out to get clarification whether the no stain sample had any wood conditioning.
 

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I think you are asking your cabinet maker for something that can't be done. Any clear finish will alter the color of the wood somewhat. The finish refracts/reflects light slightly differently than raw wood even if it's a satin finish. I went down to my shop just now and took a scrap of maple and compared it with a drawer made from the same wood. The drawer is finished with a clear lacquer and is just barely darker than the bare wood. I think even a water borne clear coat will alter the visual appearance a bit. I will defer to Steve as I think he has experience with this sort of finish.
 
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I think the least impact on the color would be to use a water based polyurethane. Get some scraps from the cabinetmaker and test different finishes. You just don't want to use an oil based finish. It will darken the wood and will yellow more and more with age.

A wood conditioner is a sealer and will darken the wood. It's completely unnecessary on any type wood to use if you are not using stain. It's sole purpose is to prevent the wood from staining blotchy on wood like pine, alder, maple and several more. On oak you don't use a wood conditioner even if you were going to use stain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
@Jim Frye We would be happy with "just barely darker". It doesn't have to be exactly the same as unfinished. Sorry for not being more clear.

@Steve Neul Thanks for the info about not needing wood conditioner on oak. I did do a lot of research and have heard that water based finishes will be the best to maintain the original color. We want something that is as durable as possible though with young kids and all. This SW Water White CV seems like our best option here in California. We also didn't want to risk having our cabinet maker try out a completely different finish system from a company he haven't worked with before.

The cabinet maker replied and said he will make a sample with just the Water White CV and nothing else. I am guessing by that response his original "no stain" sample was pre-finished with the oil wood conditioner.
 

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@Jim Frye We would be happy with "just barely darker". It doesn't have to be exactly the same as unfinished. Sorry for not being more clear.

@Steve Neul Thanks for the info about not needing wood conditioner on oak. I did do a lot of research and have heard that water based finishes will be the best to maintain the original color. We want something that is as durable as possible though with young kids and all. This SW Water White CV seems like our best option here in California. We also didn't want to risk having our cabinet maker try out a completely different finish system from a company he haven't worked with before.

The cabinet maker replied and said he will make a sample with just the Water White CV and nothing else. I am guessing by that response his original "no stain" sample was pre-finished with the oil wood conditioner.
Conversion varnish will make a very hard finish. It will just be a little more difficult to touch up should the finish be damaged. I do think it will darken the wood a little more than a water based polyurethane but not a lot more. Since it dries quickly it will be easier for the cabinetmaker to finish with. Since it is a catalyzed solvent coating it surprises me it's available in California.

Now, white oak is no difference than any other wood. It will vary in color a lot from board to board. One of the characteristics of white oak is a lot of it looks amazingly like red oak. Sometimes you almost have to get a magnifying glass to tell the difference between the two woods. You may want to get an actual finisher to finish the cabinets to make them more uniform. A finisher can use dyes and toners to even out the differences in the wood.
 

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Guess I’ll shill for Rubio monocoat twice today.
I’ve attached a couple pictures of my white oak cabinets that the “clear” coat that was put in them drastically changed the color and made it much more yellow. Here some pics with my cabinets with a piece of rift white oak, that has half Rubio and half unfinished. Rubio is the only thing I have seen so far that will actually keep the color of the unfinished wood. I took the pics in a couple different lights to see the difference more. I wish I had know about this product before I did mine.

Furniture Cabinetry Property Shelf Drawer

Wood Gesture Wall Wood stain Rectangle

Building Wood House Gesture Interior design
 

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Check the conversion varnish and acrylic lacquer from Target Coatings. They do not yellow.

Any particular reason you’re so particular about it? Because rift sawn white oak is pretty bland without some stain.

Boards can vary in color and grain, stain will even out the tones. Have you done any tests with stain or oil?

IMO you’re going to end up with a very bland looking kitchen, and it’s going to darken with age anyway.
 

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Check the conversion varnish and acrylic lacquer from Target Coatings. They do not yellow.

Any particular reason you’re so particular about it? Because rift sawn white oak is pretty bland without some stain.

Boards can vary in color and grain, stain will even out the tones. Have you done any tests with stain or oil?

IMO you’re going to end up with a very bland looking kitchen, and it’s going to darken with age anyway.
Target’s WB conversion varnish imparts a pretty deep yellow/amber color.

Image.jpeg
 

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Guess I’ll shill for Rubio monocoat twice today.
I’ve attached a couple pictures of my white oak cabinets that the “clear” coat that was put in them drastically changed the color and made it much more yellow. Here some pics with my cabinets with a piece of rift white oak, that has half Rubio and half unfinished. Rubio is the only thing I have seen so far that will actually keep the color of the unfinished wood. I took the pics in a couple different lights to see the difference more. I wish I had know about this product before I did mine.
White oak will oxidize and turn yellow under Rubio Monocoat Oil plus 2C and it doesn’t provide adequate protection for kitchen cabinets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Conversion varnish will make a very hard finish. It will just be a little more difficult to touch up should the finish be damaged. I do think it will darken the wood a little more than a water based polyurethane but not a lot more. Since it dries quickly it will be easier for the cabinetmaker to finish with. Since it is a catalyzed solvent coating it surprises me it's available in California.

Now, white oak is no difference than any other wood. It will vary in color a lot from board to board. One of the characteristics of white oak is a lot of it looks amazingly like red oak. Sometimes you almost have to get a magnifying glass to tell the difference between the two woods. You may want to get an actual finisher to finish the cabinets to make them more uniform. A finisher can use dyes and toners to even out the differences in the wood.
We have white oak floor so I am aware that white oak does vary drastically in color from board to board. Our veneer is actually random match to simulate the random planks so we actually don't care for them to be uniform.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
@Txwelder35, I have came across Rubio Monocoat too and have seen some work that used them that is part of our inspiration. I have you seen various tests that show they are not that strong of a finish (especially for the kitchen) though so decided to pass.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
@DrRobert, yes, our cabinet maker have been trying out different stains. We're not looking for uniform. I agree that some white oak veneer can be bland. Ours happen to look pretty good unfinished to us. We are going with the random plank look. Here's our inspiration photo to show what we are going for:

Countertop Cabinetry Property Furniture Kitchen


I actually did reach out to the wood shop that did this and the only thing they would tell me is that they used a "clear" coat. I understand from my research that not all "clear" coat is really clear. I don't get why the industry uses that term.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
@epicfail48 Our cabinet maker thinks just spraying on the white water CV will amber the wood so he is trying to use stain to get back to the original color.

Can anyone with direct experience with the Sher-wood White Water CV comment on whether the finish changes the wood color much if it is the only thing that is applied to the wood?
 
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