Types of Wood Stains Inverness

With wood staining, a combination of finishing techniques can help to create a sophisticated look the customer will love.

D Hollinger
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Types of Wood Stains

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Wood stains enhance the beauty of the wood by providing colour, richness and depth. There are many ways to stain wood, and each way has its advantages and disadvantages. In this article we will look at some of the types of wood stains and how they are used.

Wiping stains

One of the most common types of wood stain is a wiping stain. Wiping stains have long been used for their ability to highlight wood grain. No other type of wood stain can create as much contrast with the grain. Wiping stains require a low level of skill to apply and are easy to get into corners and moldings. As with other types of wood stains, preparation is essential. Sand the wood well before staining, starting with coarse grit sandpaper and working to finer grit sandpaper. Sanding should always be with the grain, and care should be taken where pieces of wood meet perpendicular to each other. This is especially important when using a wiping stain since it will make any cross-grain sanding marks noticeable.

Wiping stains can be applied by spray, brush or rag. Enough wiping stain should be applied to wet out the wood grain, then wiped off with the grain. The coarser the grit of sandpaper used, the darker the final colour will be. Also, the longer the wiping stain sits on the wood before being wiped off, the more it will penetrate the wood surface and the darker or more intense the colour will be after wiping off. This is important to remember when wiping large furniture.

One side at a time may have to be stained on a large piece or additional help with wiping may be necessary to maintain a uniform colour around the piece. Wiping stains are most commonly wiped with rags; however, molding is successfully being wiped automatically with a rotary brush just a second or two after the stain is applied in an automated system. Other systems have also been developed for automatically wiping panels such as cabinet doors.

Different types of wiping stain dry at different rates and "rewet" differently, which affects the amount of time you have available to correctly wipe the stain. Also, stronger colours of wiping stain may not wipe as easily as weaker colours due to the extra amount of pigment in the stain to achieve the stronger colour.

Filling stains

Filling stains work like wiping stains but have the added benefit of filling the grain of the wood to get a near or completely closed pore finish with fewer topcoats. It is important to remember that filling stains have high solids content and must be wiped well to prevent adhesion or lifting problems when clear coats are applied.

Filling stains can be applied like wiping stains but should be worked into the grain first by using a circular motion before being wiped with the grain to prevent cross-grain marks from drying on the panel. Less open grain showing adds to the appearance of depth and can increase the value of the piece.

Glazes

Glazes are similar to wiping stains, but are applied after one or more of the build coats have been applied. Glazes are very popular over painted (opaque) finishes and can be used over clear finishes as well. They enhance contrast, colour depth and highlight distressed areas. Glazes should be applied similar to wiping stains and usually wiped or brushed off leaving only a small amount of colour. Leaving too much glaze or not allowing the glaze to cure enough can cause adhesion and lifting problems with subsequent topcoats. Glazes require a slightly higher level of application skill than wiping stains, but add beauty that commands a higher price.

Spray stains

Spray stains can colour the wood without the need for wiping. However, they usually don't offer as much grain definition and require a higher level of skill since all of the colour is controlled by the sprayer. Also, inside corners are more difficult to stain and can require the reduction of fluid and air pressures, and possibly narrowing the spray fan, to get into the corners with minimal blow back.

NGR stains

NGR stains or dye stains are used by many wood furniture manufacturers to enhance the look of their product. NGR stains, when used under wiping stains, give a clean, deep and bright richness that only comes from dyes. NGR stains are most commonly sprayed on the bare wood to allow the dye to penetrate into the wood grain and then flash off quickly with no wiping required. This will mean a slightly higher level of skill in applying since the colour strength is controlled by the person spraying. Often a clear wash coat is applied over the NGR stain to protect it. Then a wiping stain would be applied and wiped off. This two-colour system adds to the sophistication of the furniture that a wiping stain alone doesn't offer.

Sap stains

Sap stains are dye stains tinted to bring the sap wood, or lighter areas, up to the colour of the rest of the wood. They are sprayed lightly with low fluid and air pressure, and the spray pattern is narrowed from a "fan" to a stream to control the area being coloured. This requires good technique to "darken" the light areas without producing a halo effect.

Sap stains are commonly used on walnut, but can be tinted for almost any wood species. They allow a level of colour uniformity between wood pieces that sets the finished product apart from non-sap-stained furniture.

Toners

Toners are low-solid lacquers tinted to various semitransparent colours. They are normally applied after other stains and sealers, but before final topcoats. Toners can be used to even the colour intensity of finished pieces. If other colour steps leave parts too light or uneven, then the toner can correct it.

Toners require good technique since they are normally the last colour step in a finish system and any misapplication will show. Care needs to be taken not to over apply toners because they will leave a semi-painted look instead of increased depth of colour. Less is more applies with toners.

Tinted, semitransparent topcoats are also used to add colour; however, they are normally used on large runs of a single colour since it is difficult to have a multitude of topcoat colours. Tinted topcoats can achieve some of the same looks as toners. A full even coat of topcoat will need to be applied for proper flow-out; therefore, it only builds colour but doesn't even out different panels.

Consult with your finish supplier to optimize your staining process to achieve the looks you want. Use combinations of stains to enhance your furniture, and remember the more types of wood stains used, the more sophisticated the appearance can be.

Ed. note: For more than two decades, David Jackson has been working in the wood coatings industry. Currently, Jackson is the general manager for Jasper Chemical Coatings in Jasper, Ind.

author: By David Jackson