Water Base Dyes and Stains

A few days ago I posted about the issue of color retention and migration in water base products, which basically stems from one coat of stain or dye redissolving the one under it, as well water base top coats even when sprayed the color can dissolve and migrate into the applied finish, brushing and wiping a water base finish over a water base colorants poses even greater risk of removing color, the color will actually mix in with the finish and leave streaks , not a good thing, as I  have concluded the color DVD ,  I find myself  again  addressing another issue , lest it all be for nothing, achieving a beautiful color is irrelevant unless it can remain and be worked over ..  speed is another consideration , using an oil base product to lock in the color works but this is about water base , Shellac will be the answer , since it is available in flake form , which is the cheapest way to buy and no chemicals are involved until it is dissolved its availability should remain, as VOC levels certainly will impact products in the near future, in premixed form , while shellac is not without its hazards due to the denatured alcohol, it certainly is not  as bad as most solvent based products, as well shellac is  very safe once dry and being a pure alcohol base dries super fast , it is used everywhere from time release medicines to the coating for M&M’s, to the shiny coating applied to fruits and vegetables , Water base as well is not chemical free , it has its own hazards… but again far less than its oil or solvent based counterparts , the biggest thing with shellac is it is flammable , again the alcohol, 

 The thing shellac affords  in addition to its sealing nature is it can be dissolved into a very low solids mix , because the resin is fully dissolved, or melted , this is the key , it can be applied in such a thin coating it will allow subsequent coloring and finishes to be applied using it in its very thin cut it becomes the glue that binds the color to the surface, the issue is it cannot be wiped  or brushed or the alcohol  will act like the water and dissolve the color as well, the key to application is spraying , it seems at this point to be unavoidable,  the only wipeable alternative seems to be oil.. something like Seal A Cell , which is a thin quick drying oil, quick meaning  2 or 3 days before it can be used under a water base , but it is not a good choice for layering in or multi coats of color ..  so today we experiment more and hopefully find a suitable solution or we remain fixed with the shellac, but it  has to be solved, and despite our best efforts , brushing and wiping seems to be a thing of the past…  this is not going to be a fun day..

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7 Responses to Water Base Dyes and Stains

  1. Spraying…..why is it in the metal/steel world, you don’t even think twice to purchasing a spray bomb of primer and paint to coat…let say… the steel mail box or even your kids bike a model car. Seems in wood working world, spray is avoided and excuses are found. With water-based and hvlp technology along with good technique, think of it as a spray bomb in your hand.

    Is the real question where to spray, does that stop you from painting the mail box, the kids bike, model car? Or the cost of equipment to spray?


  2. I agree ACE , I do know we are probably not going to see WB finishes in spray cans anytime soon, just cant get enough propellant or thin it enough , but we are now seeing small turbines in the 125.00 range , I have one from Earlex enroute , will keep you posted

  3. If the “blotch control” product prevents stain from seping and spreading initially, would a coat over the current stain allow for a second or lighter color? If we want to lighten the existing water based die or stain can we use an oxidizing product such as bleach or the water treatment for pools?

  4. Tom, no the blotch control is water base as well, it would also pull off color , as to lightening the color, yes a simple wipe down with water will remove the dye/stain to a degree , enough you can get a much lighter color , but you want to do it evenly and not soak and scrub , over wetting th blotch control can soften it as well , all of the colorants can be redissolved some what until they are sealed in but either shellac or a top coat..is applied, while this allows for some reversal , a good thing , it also presents a issue for those who do not have spray capability , especially if trying to use a brushed or wiped water base product over it , oils are not a big issue, they do not disturb the colorants very much… but again we are doing it all water base

  5. Regarding shellac? Is there a shellac with no color to it? I have only used it premixed as a sealer, when redoing my floors, and I wanted a red orange hue.

  6. john says:

    I understand the issues with the water base products. I also understand the fear people have with spraying as well as the equipment costs and the issues some people have of where to spray.
    I have to agree with Ace ,we all spend a lot of money on tools and are reluctant to buy spray equipment . The other thing is we come here to learn how to improve our woodworking skills . You so all of us how to do dovetails, glass doors,raised panels,on and on, we work on those and have success .So why are people not working on their spraying skills . I know some are but some are reluctant to even try. Jump in the water is fine ( no pun intended )
    As far as places to spray Ace has a nice little down draft table that seems to work and I believe he sprays in his basement . This can happen.w
    not to mention how much faster you can finish as well,and the finished product looks great

  7. Doc, even blodn shellac has a slight amber hue to it, you can use amber shellac or garnett , its darker and browner , there are some other varing tones check out jeff jewitt site at Homestead finishes, as wel l yo can add some trans tint dye to tone it ..jeff also makes transtint

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