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Home » Dyestuff » Wood Stain Dyes

Wood Stain Dyes

Wood Stain Dyes
Wood stain comprises of colorant that is suspended in a solvent that can be in form of water, petroleum distillate, alcohol or actual finishing agent like lacquer, varnish, polyurethane. Here, two types of colorants are used - pigments and dyes. The difference is in size of particles.

  • Dyes are microscopic crystals that dissolve in vehicle
  • Dyes are used in effectively coloring very fine grained wood like cherry/maple

  • Pigments are suspended in vehicle and are much larger in size
  • Pigments cannot color fine-grained woods as the pores are too small for pigments to attach themselves to. These deeply color woods with large pores like pine woods.

Most commercial stains contain in the both dye and pigments with the degree to which they can stain the wood dependent on length of time these are left on wood. The composition of stain includes three primary ingredients as:
  • Pigment
  • Solvent
  • Binder

Much like dyeing/staining of fabric, wood stains are designed to add color to substrate of wood as well as other materials while at the same time leaving substrates mostly visible. In principle, stains are not provided on surface coating or film. However, as binders are from same class of film-forming binders used in paints and varnishes, there is some build-up of film that occurs. With many choices available to woodworkers who want to add color to their projects, the techniques include:

Stains: pigments and dyes
Pigment stains are primarily oil-based and are finely ground mineral powders. These are held in suspension by kind of thinner and mixed with resin binders. Being the easiest type of stains to apply, these work better with open-grain woods like:
  • Ash
  • Mahogany
  • Oak
  • Walnut

Dye stains:
These are made of much smaller particles dissolved in a solvent and are available in both powder and liquid form. With solvents being alcohol, lacquer, oil or water-based, dye stains allow much better clarity than pigment stains. These allow seeing of patterns in wood grain more clearly after finishing. These also tend to penetrate more deeply and leave more color on wood surface after they’ve dried.

These are clear finishes usually in lacquer or shellac form that are tinted with pigment or dye stain. These help to even out color variations and leave a more balanced overall tone behind to the wood.

These are simply pigment stains that are applied through brush or rag to already sealed surface and are wiped off partially that leaves some color behind to highlight molding details or open grain of wood surface.

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