Protecting Walnut from fade

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Forum topic by gbinco posted 01-26-2015 03:56 AM 2779 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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12 posts in 1576 days

01-26-2015 03:56 AM

I’m going to be building a bed, dresser, and pair of nightstands out of walnut. I want the end result color/tone to be about like walnut+oil. I’m going to be staining it all to cover up any sapwood and match the plywood which really needs the stain.

My experience is pretty limited, especially with finish. I do have the equipment to spray. My last few projects have been finished with mineral oil or water polyurethane. I want to avoid finishes/techniques that aren’t suited to my inexperience.

My concern is with how walnut ages. I love the look of walnut and want to preserve it as much as possible. It’s obviously all in the bedroom, it won’t be getting a ton of light. I’m learning that it’s quite difficult to find a solution that blocks uv from the wood.

There’s 2 issues here, of course I would like to solve both. Finishes turn yellow as they age and obviously the wood fading.

Am I worrying needlessly? Will indoor furniture ever see enough enough light to see these problems? I want this stuff to outlast me and I would rather not have to strip, stain, and finish this stuff every few years.

I’ve done some searching and see spar finishes (epifanes and sikkens) which block uv. Both of these are supposed to be redone annually but I’m not sure if that’s just in a marine environment. Maybe indoors it wouldn’t ever need to be refinished? They’re also quite expensive. I would rather not spend $100’s on finish for this project.

Are there uv blocking/restisting stains or dyes that might help?

What’s the best way to go here?

Thanks in advance!

8 replies so far

View bigblockyeti's profile


5324 posts in 1962 days

#1 posted 01-26-2015 04:12 AM

I think you might be needlessly worrying. I’ve only seen walnut get dramatically aged from being left right under a south facing window that never had a shade over it. In a bedroom especially I would think the UV exposure would be minimal. I also wouldn’t use anything on interior furniture that was suited to a marine environment, too much stuff has to be added for that level of protection for me to be comfortable finishing in door furniture with it.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Aj2's profile


1954 posts in 2040 days

#2 posted 01-26-2015 04:17 AM

Some woods get darker and some mellow over time.Thats the way Mother Nature wants it and she always gets what she wants.Are you sure you want to go against her.
Some of those spar varnishes are modified resin and take a long time to dry. I have brushed a few doors with spar varnish and it’s quite the undertaking.Sorry if I sound like abuzz kill.Good luck Aj

-- Aj

View jmartel's profile


8295 posts in 2392 days

#3 posted 01-26-2015 04:48 AM

I don’t think Walnut generally has a problem fading in color as it ages. I’ve seen plenty of antique walnut pieces that still look nice.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View JAAune's profile


1855 posts in 2558 days

#4 posted 01-26-2015 05:32 AM

I typically finish walnut with a walnut-colored oil stain like Watco Dark Walnut. It’s one more layer of color that the sun has to break down before getting to the wood. Plus, oils tend to darken with age which may help counteract the tendency for walnut to lighten.

-- See my work at and

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5244 posts in 2735 days

#5 posted 01-26-2015 01:11 PM

It takes a pretty strong direct hit to lighten the color. I have an example, in the pic, the distinct line between the light and dark walnut is not a shadow, the cabinet had molding covering the dark area, while the faded part had direct exposure to strong UV (in this case from a flourescent lamp). The lamp was right next to the cabinet and on about 20 hours a day for a few years, hence the exaggerated fading. In your case I think you have nothing to worry about. As for the finish, this cabinet was topped with BLO to get the dark color, and that was then topped with a waterborne (one of Target Coatings products). The BLO will yellow some over the years, but the waterborne will not… will need something with oil to darken the walnut (if that’s the goal), Waterbornes (or shellac) are light fast, no yellowing. Another approach would be to first apply dewaxed shellac, the top coat with a waterborne. Anyway, the pic:

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View gbinco's profile


12 posts in 1576 days

#6 posted 01-26-2015 04:34 PM

This is great info, and quite a relief. Thank you all for the info.

Fred, thanks for the picture. That is quite a difference!

View Billy E's profile

Billy E

162 posts in 2322 days

#7 posted 07-26-2015 07:33 PM

Just saw this thread and wanted to add my experience. I have used Epifanes with very good luck on interior walnut. Yes, it’s expensive but nothing like the cost of the walnut. I like 2:1 clear varnish/accelerator, and can top with woodfinish matte for a low gloss finish.

-- Billy, Florence SC

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1464 days

#8 posted 07-27-2015 03:03 AM

Have you checked for UV rated stains?

-- I meant to do that!

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