wood stain

Wood pigments are pigments or mixtures that, when applied to wood, penetrate it, changing its color without hiding its natural grain.

Its use is very frequent and responds mainly to the following needs:

  • Decoration: Change the color of the wood to adapt it to what we are looking for.
  • Match. The wood, even belonging to the same species, can present color differences. Dyes can help us to match the color and thus avoid unwanted contrasts.
  • Imitate other woods. There are species of wood of greater «hiding place»And it is common to use other similar and lighter species to imitate them thanks to the application of dyes. Some examples can be found here.
  • Hide or hide defects From wood.

Types of wood stains

There is a wide variety of wood stains, each with its own characteristics and disadvantages. Here you will find a small classification with the main classes. It is worth mentioning that the first two types, water-based and oil-based, are the most used.

Water-based dyes. In these, as the name implies, the pigments used (mainly anilines) dissolve in water. Therefore, they are also ideal for water-based finishes. Its features include:

  • Fast drying.
  • Good penetration into the wood.
  • Little odor.
  • Greater variety of colors.
  • Less polluting.

Note: The main disadvantage of water-based products is the fact that they can raise the wood grain. To minimize this possibility, moisten the wood with a damp cloth. Let the wood dry completely and sand again with fine sandpaper. Then, repeat the process. This conditions the wood to accept water-based products with the lowest grain.

Oil-based dyes. Here, the pigments are dissolved in benzene derivatives (mainly linseed oil).

  • Very penetrating.
  • Slow drying, allowing longer working time, which is ideal for some complex or large jobs.
  • They exhale. It would be necessary to clean later.

Synthetic dyes. In these, the solvent is a derivative of petroleum. Among the characteristics of this type of dye are:

  • Very fast drying. There is virtually no waiting to apply the final finish.
  • Low penetration, as its solvent base is very volatile.

Hydroalcoholic dyes. As its name suggests, in this type of dye the pigments dissolve in a mixture of alcohol and water.

  • Wide variety of colors.
  • Good penetration.
  • Fast drying.

Multipurpose dyes. They allow to be mixed or dissolved in a wide variety of products. They are a kind of wildcard.

  • Wide variety of colors.

Gel stains. Unlike liquid dyes, gels are thick. They are usually oil based and allow excellent color control due to the thickness of the dye. They do not lift the grain or grain from the wood and do not drip like liquid stains. They do not require the piece of wood to be polished between coats to remove any residual stain. Gel shades are also more expensive than liquids.

Homemade wood stains

There are many compounds or homemade products that can be used to create our own dyes.

Perhaps the best known is bitumen. Others may be the rust that the iron releases, watercolors that children use, food coloring, coffee, etc.

Caution: On many occasions, the result is unpredictable with this type of dye. Do not use them initially on the wood that will be exposed, use a surplus or interior (hidden) faces of the furniture or wood that you will dye. This advice is applicable to all dyes, but in this case it is essential.

How to dye wood?

It is common to find many people who claim that painting wood is a quick and easy process. But do not need be like that.

In small, smooth pieces, it is true, applying paint to wood is easy. However, in large and / or complex jobs, it is difficult to achieve a uniform result, due, among other things, to the speed of drying and penetration of the dyes. And not to mention the vision and / or experience necessary to match the color of two pieces of furniture.

Preparation of wood

get ready to dye the wood

As in the vast majority of crafts, not only in carpentry, the first step is to prepare the surface.

Note: There are many people who neglect this step, perhaps because they are the least grateful. However, it is usually the key to achieving an excellent result.

If we are facing a new wood and no blows, just sanding. First one with a coarse-grained sandpaper and then another with a fine-grained sandpaper.

If it is a wood that is already in use the process can be more complex. The previous finish would have to be removed, for which there are different techniques.

Then, the possible protrusions or cracks that the wood could have would be filled with putty. Note that the dough will not behave in exactly the same way as the wood when you apply the paint, that is, it will not be the same color.

And finally the sanding. First with coarse grit sandpaper and then with a fine grit.

Stain application on wood

Various tools can be used for the application: a brush, a foam brush (sponge) or simply a lint-free cloth.

Further, have another dry cloth handy to remove excess of the product that could be produced.

Dip the utensil you are going to use (brush or cloth) in the stain and slide it over the wood in the direction of the fiber. Avoid going through the same area too often. The longer the stain remains on the wood, the darker the result.

If the job is large and you are using one of the quick drying wood paint types, consider splitting or splitting the job.

The difficulty is not in the process itself, but in controlling the times and quantity of product to obtain a uniform result.

Some practical tips

  • For darker tones, you can apply a second coat.
  • Prevents ink from penetrating more areas than others. This is done by evenly distributing the stain and cleaning up any excess that may occur in some areas before the wood absorbs them.
  • Before starting to apply the paint to the wood, shake or stir the contents of the can well. It is possible that a greater proportion of pigments is at the bottom.
  • Dyes add color, not protection. After drying, apply a transparent finish that offers protection to the wood.