Thank you for reporting this. Undo
Al Fortunato Furnituremaker
As Deborah said, the wood needs to be sealed. There are many names for pre-packaged sealers. Sanding sealer, stain control, per-conditioner, seal coat, and I'm sure, others. I like Zinsser's Seal Coat the best. But I always reduce it 50% before using. Sometimes out of the can is too strong and you won't get the penetration you want. Do test samples like you have been doing, if the reduced sealer isn't enough either add another coat or mix a new batch. Also, make sure you put the finish on the samples too. It will give you a completely different look.

But...., before any sealing and staining, the wood needs to be sanded correctly. Sanding evenly will also help in giving a more even stain. Start with 100 grit, and work through, 120, 150, and maybe 180. Removing all scratches from the previous grit before moving on to the next.

It's a lot of work but to get a great looking finish, it is necessary.
July 11, 2014 at 8:31am        Thanked by jggraf
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
Zinsser's Seal Coat (Shellac) is an excellent and traditional choice for a pre-sealer.

You may also use stain base -- stain without the color.

End grain may need 2 coats of sealer to help even out the color.

Also try sanding up to 320 grit working your way up through the grits as Al suggests.

You are blocking the absorption of the stain, so your wood will look lighter -- you will need to experiment to get the color you want.
July 11, 2014 at 2:42pm      Thanked by jggraf
Sign Up to comment
robinricks likes a comment on an ideabook

Decorating 101: How to Start a Decorating Project

Before you grab that first paint chip, figure out your needs, your decorating style and what to get rid of Full Story
     Comment   July 10, 2014
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
@Marina Collier:
Not nearly enough information. How big is the living/dining area? What furniture do you have? How many people in the household? Do you have a budget? Are you having to start from scratch?
June 12, 2014 at 4:56pm     
Sign Up to comment
© 2014 Houzz Inc.
Houzz® The new way to design your home™