Wood Stains

Water Based Wood Stains

Information on the main types of water based stains used on wood furniture and flooring.

Craftsman Style

¶ There are a few considerations about stains in general which are worth brief mention before considering each kind of stain in particular and its characteristics. One aim of this section is to simplify what appears to be a rather complex subject. Changes in basic stain materials have occurred often in recent years and that accounts for some of the uncertainties in the minds of many. Some ideas about the old-fashioned, home-cooked stains using vegetable and mineral substances still persist. There is confusion about acid stains, so-called, because the aniline and coal tar dye water stains are still called acid stains by many. This designation is not correct, although the water soluble anilines were at one time made available as water stains by using an acid process. Then there are some who know only the advantages of the oil pigment stains and not their limitations. And about the modern coal tar dye and aniline stains few are really well informed.

¶ The day has passed when a finisher can profitably spend his time making stains in the old way from the cooking of dye woods, minerals and other substances. When he counts his time cost at prevailing wages no further argument is needed. Convenience and time saving are much in favor of using the best of manufactured ready-prepared stains.

¶ Stains are usually named after the liquid in which the coloring matter is soluble. The logical classification of stains as they are made and used today, the classification which will be followed in the chapters to follow is:

Water Stains - aniline and coal tar dye, color pigment, chemical, - acid and alkaline.

Spirit Stains - aniline and coal tar dye.

Oil Stains - aniline and coal tar dye, color pigment.

Varnish Stains - color pigment, aniline and coal tar dye, shellac.

¶ There is no use confusing the subject by a consideration of the old time vegetable dye wood, mineral and gum stains. A few of them are still used by industries and craftsmen for special purposes and an occasional formula uses some of them in connection with other color substances, but as a class they have served their purpose and passed out of use. The aniline and other coal tar stains will produce any color that was ever produced with those old stain substances and hundreds of others too in a more permanent form.

¶ Each of the various classes of stains is possessed of certain advantages and some disadvantages. What these are will be discussed in detail in the chapters to follow dealing with each type of stain. Various kinds of wood take a single stain with different color effect. The difference may be only a lighter or darker shade of the same color or it may be a similar color with a different hue. The brown stain, for instance, which will give you an excellent walnut color on gum will produce only a light brownish yellow on birch and maple.

¶ The wood finisher must know intimately the characteristics of each class of stain, their advantages and disadvantages, penetration, brushing peculiarities, tendency to hold their color or fade soon, etc. Without such knowledge he cannot follow specifications and match samples of colors in a permanent way. Then there are other considerations such as variations in kinds of lumber used on one job and on different jobs, variations in grades of lumber, select and not select as to color and grain figure and variations in ideas of colors described by standard names. A color sample given to a finisher to match may show the color wanted, but the sample may be birch while the wood to be finished is gum, cypress or pine. Birch and cherry have a natural pinkish hue while some gum when stained has a greenish tone. The finisher must not only know these characteristics but how to treat the woods to make them match the other woods in color.

Next Page: Stain Finishes & Colors.



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This is Water Based Wood Stains.


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