Stripping Poly & Stain off Wood Veneer

Questions & AnswersCategory: Wood Finishing and Refinishing QuestionsStripping Poly & Stain off Wood Veneer
Francesca asked 9 years ago

We ordered a wood veneer countertop to be stained (Minwax Dark Walnut)and poly. It came out awful.

Because the counter was for an “L” shaped desktop, it has 3 pieces (corner & 2 length sides). All 3 pieces don’t match or blend. The company said they had a hard time staining it and put 4 coats of stain on. The corner piece is somewhat dark, but the long lengths are light and don’t match. Then they applied poly, 2 coats.

We hate it. They said they lost money already trying to stain it correctly and they swore they would never stain a wood veneer again. Thus it’s our problem. We want to strip it and start over.

What is the best way to strip the poly and the stain? Do we sand it? Strip it? Go all the way down to base and start again? Try to strip just poly and stain over dark walnut?

Also, any suggestions on how to get a better stain job? I believe they used the Minwax Wood Finish. Should we be using another product. We don’t want a black countertop, but a dark one to accent the cabinets.

3 Answers
Crowder Painting answered.

This is a difficult job. Working with veneer isn't the same as solid wood. Plus, trying to remove the stain will be difficult at best. One option is to remove the poly, leaving the stain intact, then try darkening the lighter pieces to better match the darker one.

To do this you will have to use a paint stripper to remove the polyurethane clear coat. Sanding veneer is very difficult as the wood is very thin. A good product to try is Peel Away 6. It isn't very harsh. Be vary careful when scraping away the stripper/poly. Any deep scratches will show.

After stripping, do a light hand sanding with 150 or 180 grit sandpaper. Be careful not to break through the existing stain.

Once that is done, use Old Masters Gel stain. It would be best to have a color sample of the Minwax Dark Walnut on a piece of wood that closely matches the original. Choose a gel stain color that closely matches the darker color. Also, purchase there natural gel stain base. It has next to no color and is used for "thinning" or cutting the gel stain.

Test the stain on the sample board. "Cut" the stain with the natural color to lighten. Apply the gel stain with a clean lint free rag in the direction of the grain. Have several rags and paint thinner handy to remove heavy deposits and blend the stain.

Once you have a consistent color that you like, wait for a minimum of 12 hours before applying a clear top coat.

Anonymous answered.

Srtiped off poly and had a white film on the surface, can I apply stain over it?

Crowder Painting answered.

You need to get rid of the film. Try washing the surface with a mild soap and warm water. After the washing let everything dry then lightly sand with 150-180 grit sandpaper.

If water doesn't remove the film then look at the instructions of the stripper used, look for the park about neutralizing the stripper. Some paint strippers need special solvents at the end to remove anything remaining.