I Stained My Cedar Front Porch (And I Hate It!)

Hate is a strong word. Maybe I’m just tired and frustrated, and it’s not as bad as I think it is. But after spending yesterday staining my front porch that I had spent hours pressure washing, sanding, and prepping for a new stain and sealer, I am not at all pleased with how it turned out. I ended up using Ready Seal in Dark Walnut, and it just didn’t turn out like I had hoped.

I had planned on using Cabot Australian Timber Oil, and based on the real wood color samples that I saw at the store, I selected the color Jarrah Brown.

Cabot Australian Timber OIl in Jarrah Brown -- used on my cedar porch, it turned really red.

I wish I had taken a picture of the Jarrah Brown wood sample at Lowe’s. It was so pretty. It was a medium-to-light brown with no immediately noticeable undertones. It didn’t look greenish brown, and it didn’t look like a reddish brown. It was just a very neutral medium/light brown, and it was exactly what I wanted.

But when I opened it up, stirred it, and tested it on an inconspicuous board on my front porch, it was RED. I don’t even mean that it had subtle red undertones. I mean it was RED. I went to the Lowe’s website to see what the heck was going on, and as I scrolled through the customer photos on the Jarrah Brown listing, the colors seemed to be all over the place, from medium brown to very red. Obviously, the differences are because it’s being applied to different types of wood, but the outcomes were so varied! And I didn’t see any that looked like that beautiful medium/light neutral brown sample in the store.

I forgot to take a picture of the sample on my front porch, but this one is pretty close to what it looked like.

An example of how red the Cabot Australian Timer OIl in Jarrah Brown looked on my cedar porch.

I’m very glad that customer is happy with that outcome, but to say that that is the very opposite of what I wanted would be a huge understatement. That deck looks like it’s glowing to me.

I didn’t feel like going back and looking at other colors. I had already spent way too much time in the deck stain aisles of Lowe’s and Home Depot reading labels, comparing sample colors, looking up customer reviews, etc. And now I was certain that those samples can’t be trusted anyway. I’d have just as much luck choosing a color by closing my eyes, spinning around a few times, and then randomly pointing at a can of stain.

So I decided to go back to my previous selection, which I had already purchased and had at the house. This one was Ready Seal in Dark Walnut. I had hoped to do something a little lighter this time, but I really did like my Dark Walnut front porch the first time around, so I decided to stick with it. But the first time, I used a different brand. This time, I decided to go with Ready Seal because it does have very good customer ratings. And this was way better than the Cabot Jarrah Brown.

Ready Seal deck stain and sealer in Dark Walnut

Well, I don’t love it. The first time I stained my porch back in 2018, I used Thompson’s Timber Oil in Dark Walnut. It turned out like this…

Thompson's Timber Oil in Dark Walnut used on a cedar wood front porch with white trim, light gray siding, and coral front door

It was really dark, but it was beautiful and neutral, and it looked so pretty with the white trim and coral door. Here’s how the Ready Seal Dark Walnut turned out…

Ready Seal stain and sealer use on cedar wood front porch

It’s orange. I now have an orange front porch. I sidestepped the awful red with the Cabot, but then went right to orange with Ready Seal. I should have stuck with Thompson’s.

Ready Seal outdoor stain and sealer in Dark Walnut used on cedar wood front porch

I’m so frustrated right now. I know I’m the queen of “if I don’t like it, I’ll just redo it!” But y’all, my studio cabinets are being delivered tomorrow, and redoing a front porch is literally the last thing in the world I want to be focused on right now.

Cedar wood front porch stained and sealed with Ready Seal in Dark Walnut

But this is awful. That Thompson’s dark walnut looked so pretty with my coral front door. This orange clashes, and I just don’t think I can live with this color. I’ll be disappointed every single time I walk out my front door, and for this to be the first impression of our house is not what I want.

Cedar deck steps stained with Ready Seal in Dark Walnut

The good news is that from a distance, it’s not so bad. It’s not great, but it’s not bad. (Please excuse the sanding dust that I forgot to vacuum off the siding before staining the porch.)

Front porch in progress with stained cedar wood, white trim, light gray siding, coral front door, and faux stone skirting

But even from a distance, it’s still orange. And it still clashes with the front door. It’s just not so noticeable from a distance. But as you approach the front door, the porch gets more and more orange the closer you get to it.

Cedar front porch stained with Ready Seal in Dark Walnut

So now I have to figure out how to fix this. I called the company, and the woman I spoke with said they have a color called Mission Brown that is dark without the orange/red undertones (a color that I didn’t see on any of their sample cards…ugh!), and I could use that to do another coat over the Dark Walnut to cut the orange. The problem with that idea is that unless Mission Brown actually has green undertones to it, I don’t think it’s going to be enough to cut the orange/red color of this Dark Walnut. I need some actual green or bluish green to cut counteract this orange/red color. Just a neutral brown (which is how she described it) may not be enough. But that’s what she recommended, so that’s one option.

She also said that some contractors will add pigments to the stain to get a custom color. She didn’t recommend that option because it may affect the performance of the sealer, and it would be something I’d have to try at my own risk (meaning, if the performance of the sealer fails, they’re not at fault, obviously), but it’s still something I may consider. It just has to be a pigment that is compatible with oil-based products. Heck, I have small tubes of green and blue oil-based paint. I may even try adding those to the leftover stain to see if that eliminates the orange/red color.

Ready Seal in Dark Walnut used to stain cedar front porch and steps, with white trim, light gray

So I don’t have it figured out yet. But what I do know is that I have to come up with a solution, because having an orange wood front porch that clashes with my coral door is not an option.

As far as the product itself goes (apart from the color), Ready Seal seems pretty great. It was very easy to apply. I just used a large 4-inch brush for oil-based products, and it went on very easily and smoothly. I stirred it very thoroughly before using it, and then stirred it a few times during application just to keep the pigments from settling to the bottom. But as far as application goes, it really is goof proof, just as the label says. Now I just need to get the color right.

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  1. I’m not seeing clashy or orange so maybe it’s the lighting, but I think it’s really pretty. Maybe you could do a pickling over it or, as the company said, go over it once with a dark stain.

  2. I’m so sorry! I use Jarrah Brown and love it, but I don’t have cedar boards which I imagine accentuates the red. You’ll figure it out. In the meantime, it looks lovely from the road. Remember you’re also looking at it now with no decor. Adding that back in will definitely distract the eye.

  3. Kristi, try giving it a second coat in an inconspicuous spot and see if that helps. I did an oak paneled room with a stain I thought was going to be gorgeous…and instead it was hideous…so I gave it another coat and now we can’t get over how beautiful it is. Trust me when I say I KNOW that this is MORE work than want. We are twelve years into our remodel of our farmhouse and farm and nothing has gone to plan…ever. But when you live in paradise, sometimes it just takes longer and more effort. Keep going, ever forward is a good motto, and Home wasn’t built in a day.

    1. I agree with Lori Ann. Try giving it a second coat which may tone down the orange and reduce the contrast with the dark brown knots. Don’t fiddle with adding pigments that may affect the performance.

    2. I agree! I honestly don’t see orange though but it could be the photo or my phone setting. I am drawn to oranges and reds and here I only see a warm dark brown. I think it’s beautiful and really makes your front door pop Kristi. Keep us posted if you do a 2nd coat too!

  4. Is that one coat? If so, a second coat should make it darker. The more coats the darker the stain. Something to consider. And it looks darker on the steps and near the door in your picture. That is what I’ve always read about not being dark enough, it may take more than one coat. Just a suggestion.

    1. It is just one coat, and the directions say to use two coats. But before I dove into a second coat in hopes that it would correct the problem, I did a search for the product and came across a blogger who wrote “and unbiased review of Ready Seal”. She used it on her outdoor wood table, and she said that the second coat didn’t do anything to deepen the color at all. So that’s why I didn’t go ahead with the second coat. I think the second coat needs a color correction rather than just hoping that it’ll darken the color.

      1. But you won’t know until you try! Different woods react differently – pine, cedar, teak, oak, etc. as I’ve found from past experience.

  5. Hi Kirsti – you are such a perfectionist – I am just wanting to say how I admire you as it is a trait I too suffer from – but you set the bar toooo high and you are going to burn your self out girl! What would be easier – re-doing the WHOLE porch or changing colour of the front door to tone in – it might be the easier of the two evils.

  6. The way your brain works, I think you’ll have to redo it PDQ. I know you won’t rest until you get the right color. It may look ok to others ( I don’t like the color btw ) but since you’ve already said you can’t live with it….

    1. I agree. You’ve stated pretty emphatically that you don’t like the orange under tones, and you can see it in real life and not in a monitor. I don’t understand the comments telling you it looks great and keep it. You clearly do not think so and you know yourself and what you are willing to live with. I, also, think the color is wrong with the door and the siding. If it were mine, I’d be searching for a way to color correct it as well. I wish you luck in your attempts to get a color you like without having to redo the whole thing 😻

  7. It’s definitely warm, but not hideous. To me, it looks like wood floors in an a lot of old houses. It still appears like real wood and reads less warm when not up close. I think you’ll be able to deaden that color with regular oil pigments and have a rich tone that doesn’t make you fixate on how much it doesn’t go with the door. IMHO, I don’t see a big clash with the door as is, but it may look different in person.

    I liked the color when you stripped it, to be honest. Clear coat over that would’ve looked pretty neat.

  8. I say leave it for now. Do your studio! Then pick out and order some Trex decking! Worth the money and worth not wasting more time and frustration to do it again. Be sure to call around for pricing it can vary vastly from place to place!

    1. I looked at Trex and most of the colors are just awful. I decided against Trex since I couldn’t find a color I like and that would hold up in the FL sun. Oh well, not my problem now since I sold that house. Now all I have to do is decide on wall colors and concrete sealers. LOL

  9. so sorry you are so disappointed — understandably after ALL THAT WORK! I agree that the pictures aren’t awful — in fact it looks good to me from the road and the end of the sidwalk. Suggestions: (1) Style it the way it is with your furniture to see if that helps. (2) Try a second coat in an inconspicuous spot. (3) Maybe look for a gray tone in the same brand of sealer and try it in an inconspicuous spot to see if that helps. (4) A greenish/blue-ish undertone might neutralize the reddish/orange-ish look you don’t like?? Not a color/pigment expert so not sure…

  10. So sorry this has been so frustrating for you! My inclination would be to leave the front porch as is for a while as you work on your studio. The front porch is protected with the work you have already done, so there will be no harm from taking a break on it. While you work on the studio, you can let this situation and possible solutions “percolate” in the back of your mind. Sometimes, at least for me, that helps me come to a better solution than I would have initially come up with.

  11. The builders accidentally put an orange brown roof on my house. There was no way to change it without considerable expense. So I changed the color of the front door to an interesting navy and lived with it until it was time for a new roof. The time went by faster than I thought and I got many compliments on my color choices. Just might be easier than fixing the entire porch! Good luck!

  12. It’s a nice colour, but it’s your house so it doesn’t matter if WE like it 😁
    If trying to tone it down doesn’t work, and you’ve still got warm-toned boards that clash with the pink door and don’t want to start from scratch, would it be sacrilege to suggest painting the door teal? (There’s some teal in the cushions you bought so they’d still match.)

  13. I guess you would have to BE there. I think it looks nice and I don’t see it clashing with the door. Maybe it just hard to pick up in the pictures. I know you wanted it a darker brown, but as others said, with furniture a throw rug and plants you might not mind it so much. At least it is protected for this year. BUT, I know you need to do what feels right to you, and those cabinets…you will need a few days just to open the boxes, and sort out all the hardware. I do that for my husband so it is easier for him to start the assembly so you could still start some of that in between finishing the porch. It would really help when you are ready to start the process of assembly and it gives you a chance to make sure you didn’t get any damaged pieces. It will be a process putting together that many cabinets!

  14. I love the color! It’s very warm and inviting, It also adds depth to the porch and makes it seem larger. Unless you’re seeing something we aren’t, I don’t think it clashes with the door color at all. Maybe work on your shop and leave the porch alone for awhile. Sometimes, “jarring” colors turn out fine. Once you put the furniture out there, you may change your mind after living with it for awhile.

  15. I’m with you on the color. The color you had in 2018 was so pretty. It seems color names don’t match the actual colors. Anything you try now won’t matter because it will all be a test. I’m anxious to see what you come up with. And good luck.

  16. Maybe try cleaning the dust off the siding, putting the chairs back on the porch and adding your plants, rugs and see how it looks “dressed” before you make your decision? Or try a light pressure washing again and see if that tones it down? Basically, I would try other things before resorting to another coat.

  17. I used Mission Brown on an orangey wood lamp base and it turned out a deep, dark-chocolate brown with no hint of orange or purple. So I also used it on my orangey stair rail and got the same dark, rich result. Maybe invest in a small can to test it out? I’m sure you’ll find other uses for it if it doesn’t do the trick for you.

    I once stained my back fence in what looked like the same stain as the orange deck you show in your post. I recoiled every time I stepped outside, even though neighbors said how nice it looked. I lived with it for two long weeks before buying several gallons of opaque white stain and re-doing the whole thing. I liked it so much I’ve kept it white ever since. You just can’t make yourself like something you DON’T like. The silver lining is that you’re working with a flat surface that’s already prepped, so Plan B should go much smoother than Plan A.

  18. What I used to do in my past career is go to a friendly small paint store that would allow me to purchase small containers of UTC (universal tint colorant, for those who aren’t familiar). In your case, as you said, you need some blue and/or green. Then experiment adding, a tiny bit. at. a. time. That said, from the pictures it may not be as you want, but it’s acceptable for now, imo! Until you have time to revisit it.

    1. It does clash with your door…didn’t you just repaint it?
      I love the original dark floor you had. What bothers me most about this odd colored floor are the nail heads shining through with a putty color. That’s what really stands out to me.
      No doubt that you’ll have a solution, though. Work on your studio cabinets. The porch is protected by the paint, no matter how much you dislike it. I think that at some point while working on the studio cabinets, you’ll either need a break OR a new porch idea will pop into your head! I’m at the age where I am having trouble recalling words. I can tell you what I mean & describe what I want to say but that word is just gone from my memory banks.
      Then, three days later or longer, I’ll suddenly remember it out of the blue…because I wasn’t concentrating so hard on trying to remember it! So let your brain focus on something else & I guarantee the answer yo need will come to light. Good luck. Can’t wait to see the cabinets!

  19. Would you be putting a final coat with your added tones on top of what is applied now? Wouldn’t leaving the coat you hate under the final coat probably be enough to protect the wood anyway?

  20. Kristi I use Olympic Maximum in Canyon Brown, and it’s a really elegant, deep brown. I think you’d like it! But in the meantime, I would roll on another coat of the one you have. It would definitely darken it up!

  21. My local Sherwin Williams will do custom stains/matches on my material. Of course it’s done on their product line. I think some places show stains on the different woods, Rockler Woodworking does.

  22. I really like the dark Walnut again the light house – it’s in keeping with the age of the property and much better than the red that’s on the deck at the back of the house.

  23. I’d go over it with a dark stain – like nearly black – and just embrace a darker color. It would certainly get rid of the orange. That’s just my 2 cents, though!

  24. I think it looks good. I’d focus on the studio and get that rug for under the new porch chairs and leave it as-is and just enjoy it as a place to relax!

  25. Kristi-
    I am so sorry. I see what you mean about the color clashing with the door. You are going to be spending a lot of time on that front porch in those beautiful new chairs and you want it to feel right and not continually look at what you didn’t want! The first time we stained our deck, the store mixed the wrong color. My husband was half done when I came out, took one look, and said this is hideous. It took us several tries to get it right and my best advice is step away and work on your cabinets. Take a break from the front porch and work on something that feels “right.” The porch will be there for when you are ready to face it. And you will find a solution – because you always do in the end.

  26. I see your point up close. But in the pic from a distance I don’t see orange anymore. I see a dark neutral that actually looks really nice.

    Of course, it’s hard to trust tone in pictures but on my screen it definitely renders dark brown, not orange. just my 2 cents

  27. I think the stain is very nice. I don’t see it as orange or as clashing with your coral door. I’m picking up on a warm honey tone. However, I do understand your disappointment when you were expecting the dark walnut color in the photo with your previous stain.

  28. Pictures seem great. But I agree with most of the comments; another coat is a great option; then live with it awhile. Changing the front door color might make it more suitable. Perfection sometimes paralysis all of us….

  29. I like the stain that you have right now. I think it looks nice with the coral door. Seems like most of your fans agree. But you gotta live with it. I just don’t see the problem, it looks like a lovely medium – dark brown.

  30. You may want to try a second coat (even though the directions says one coat is sufficient).

    I used this exact product & color on my cedar fence two times. The first time I got a medium brown color with lots of red/orange undertones – even though I applied a very heavy coat.

    The second time (about 4 years later), and with only a light power washing in between, it came out DARK, like on the pictures. Honestly, if I hadn’t done the work myself I would’ve thought someone used a different color or product.

    Hope this helps and good luck!!!

  31. I vote that you just go ahead and bite the bullet and put in the Trek. Then you can just put this to bed and never have to mess with it again!

  32. I think it looks great, and I don’t see the clash with the coral door. Maybe call the company rep again and ask for a brown with a green undertone instead of the neutral Mission brown? Honestly, I think it looks very nice.

  33. Hi Kristi. I can tell you are very frustrated. I hate doing a project, and then not liking it!(i just laid brick and dont like my grout color!😨)

    To be honest with you, I like this color alot! Better than the original darker walnut. Its warmer, and I like it with your front door too!

    Itll be good to step away and work on youe cabinets.

    Blessings to you.

  34. Cedar is a red wood so even if you put clear on it you would get a red or orange tint. Talk to someone experienced at a good paint store such as Sherwani Williams about adding green pigment to turn it back to brown. Probably in a clear base. Thompsons is usually the best. You can fix this. Don’t settle. Thankfully it is a pretty small space. Good luck! I know you will make it beautiful!!

  35. Maybe try living with it for a bit (but not in the traditional sense). We stained our deck last summer and same thing happened (different product though) and it was orangey, I hated it! I wanted dark walnut, not 90’s honey oak. Even though I hated it, I decided to live with it because we plan to rip the porch out in the next few years and do stamped concrete. I just decided it was not worth the hassle and back pain. Well anyway, it worked in our favor because either the stain fully dried or oxidized (or sun bleached? ) I have no idea but after a week or so the tone had changed completely to what I was expecting originally. Maybe your product needs a little more time?