(Abridged version, from articles published in SPEC-NET NEWS LOUNGE and the ATFA MAGAZINE)
New products seem to be hitting the market weekly. If you try to keep up with all of them it can make you dizzy. We’ll attempt to outline the main types of stains, as well as the pros and cons each type.
SOLVENT/ SPIRIT BASED
Spirit/ethanol based dye stains have been quite popular for a number of years. With these stains, the sanding needs to be very even and fine. Originally these stains were used for “tint” staining where the contractor would put up to 10% stain in his second coat of solvent based poly. This method served its purpose at the time but with more advanced products on the market, it is well and truly outdated now. “Tinting” simply darkens the timber slightly to the colour of choice. Direct staining, or “wipe-on, wipe-off”, gives a far more dramatic tone and colour change. They are, at least, easy to use and can be thinned for more working time.
OIL BASED (PIGMENT) STAINS
With these stains you have to be very careful and fine with the finish sanding. “Popping” the grain, using water and methylated spirit, allows more pigment to penetrate the grain for a darker end result. The main pitfalls of these stains can be highly visible. For example, any drops of water or sweat during the application will stand out in the finished job. Drag marks or scratches will easily show because they may close the grain and cause a different effect. Oil pigmented stains generally take longer to dry, especially in wet, humid or cold conditions. Some can take up to 48 – 72 hours. They do, however, produce a very natural- looking result.
WATER BASED STAIN
Water based stains can be dye stains, pigment stains or a mixture of the two. The sanding requirements for these water based stains are much more forgiving than the previous two. Application methods differ between products, but most will require the wipe on/ wipe off process. Drying times are much quicker with these stains with most of them being able to be coated over within 2 – 4 hours.
There are not many pitfalls with water based stains. For the contractor, it may seem like a more time-consuming process than the easy “tinting” or simple roll-on methods of the solvent-based stains. However, the reality is that the more involved the application process, the better the result for the customer. These stains are environmentally-friendly, usually come in a wide range, and their colours have real depth (their blacks are really black!). The end result is extremely natural and genuine.
Architects, contractors and homeowners should all be aware of the staining choices available. For more information, call one of Lagler Australia’s two Melbourne branches.