does wood stains and dyes contain varnish type contents?

25 Jul 2015
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United Kingdom
Hi all, I am really sorry, but I am a complete novice in this theme and I would really appreciate if someone would help a girl out :)

Basically, I would need to stain or dye (is it the same ting?) some english oak wall panelling, but I would really need it not to contain any varnish, because i would like to print on top, so i would need it still to take ink in after staining. However, after some research on internet, it appears that nowadays some stains and dyes do contain already varnish as protect the wood more and to dry quicker etc. When I look at the stain pots, they have no ingredients listed on them whatsoever, so someone like me who has no experience or knowledge in those kind of things....i don't know how to find out if they do contain varnish or not....Maybe someone knows how to advise me in this question: how to find out if a wood stain or dye contains varnish? and/or Which wood stains or dyes do not contain varnish type contents (i think it's resin?)

At the moment I have got at home:
Colron Refined Wood Dye
Ronseal Hardwood furniture stain
Ronseal 5 year Woodstain
B&Q Colours Exterior Woodstain Satin

Are any of thos good for my purpose?

Thank you so much in advance :)

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stains contain various kinds of protection, whether flexible resin, varnish, or (esp. fence stain) wax.

Wood dyes, such as Colron, don't. They are just colour in a solvent and are normally varnished, oiled or waxed after they have dried to add protection to the wood.
Thank you for your reply JohnD. I had a feeling that Colron might be the most suitable and was a bit doubtful about the others as it says "colour and protection" on them....However, I have found some stains that seem to me not to contain any sealers least by the look of it...

Do you think these would be any good? :)
"AURO 160-00 Colourless for interior use only (as it doesn't give UV protection), it has a milky appearance when wet but dries clear and transparent" so it is not just a dye.

Mann's "Requires a protective top coat of wood oil, wood wax or wood varnish to seal the stain in to the wood." so it might be

Earthborn "beautiful satin finish" so is not just a dye
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Wow, this is amazing!!! Thank you so much for your help JohnD!!! :)
You can also get water based wood dye these days , might print onto better than one containing solvent.
in order to print something onto a previously stained finish you need to be fully aware of what the stain solvent is relative to what the solvent is of the print. ie if you stain using white spirit based stain and print using white spirit based print medium you run the risk of the print solvent agitating the stain and ending up with a right mess. Likewise using a spirit based stain and spirit based print means potential similar issues. Best stain to use if printing afterwards IMO is water based then either a spirit based or white spirit based stain would work ok. Just ensure you use a different solvent based print to the wood stain. This is a tricky subject to get right eg if using white spirit based stain and a water based print then maybe not a great result as the water based print will not sit well on the oil stain. Further confusion arises with description of stains ie oil based, spirit based. Oil based = white spirit based. Spirit based = meths/ cellulose thinner based. A point to note is Colron stain from B&Q is now water based (it used to be oil based) make sure you use recent stock and confirm that it is indeed water based. Also bear in mind that the colron water based stains are very weak and dont give any depth of colour. Also, also water stain on fresh new timber will raise the grain potentially ALOT!

Finally, if you are minded to seal over the print with a finish, again use a different solvent based finish to that of the print otherwise there is a risk you will drag the colour out of the print
Thank you Matz! This all sounds logical, and I never thought of it like this :) - thank you for breaking it down like this. I found out that the printing ink is water based. I also resolved to using water based stainers: at the moment I am testing out Colron, Mann's Oak wood stain and Littlefair's Water based wood stain. For a sealer I have previously already used just a normal exterior varnish that i bought from leylands, and it didn't take the print off luckily :).

I have one other little thing that maybe you guys can help me with? I am staining English Oak, which is quite light wood, but I am looking to achieve deep brown colour with a slightly reddish undertone...something like on the photo attached (I used here Roslon 5 year wood stain - Dark Oak, which is no good if i want to print, so i cannot use it for my purpose)

I have tested so far:
Colron Wood Dye - Deep Mahogany
Mann's Oak wood stain - Jacobean
Mann's Oak wood stain - Dark Oak
Mann's Oak wood stain - Medium Oak
Mann's Oak wood stain - Rosewood
Mann's Oak wood stain - Chestnut

But none of them have given me this result...they are all either too greenish, yellowish, reddish or pinkinsh :)

So finally, my question is - would you know of a water based wood stain or dye that would give me similar result as on the photo - this deep brown with a tiny reddish, or warm undertone? You would save me a lot of testing ;)


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