Dark Black Stain for a Red Oak Floor

Finishing suggestions for making an oak floor a deep black. March 29, 2008

I have a water-popped red oak floor which is to be stained ebony, but the client would like it darker. Almost painted, but still transparent. I've tried a few methods such as a Gilsonite additive, but no luck. Any suggestions?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor Z:
I have tried black dye on white oak. It didn't cover the grain completely, but it looked awesome. Maybe it would work on red oak. I would try a sample piece.

From contributor P:
If you dye the wood black and then use a black stain over the dye, you can make it as dark as you want depending on how much you dilute the dye. The sample below is on birch, but works just as well on oak or any other wood. On the far left is unstained wood, dye only in the middle, and dye combined with ebony pigmented wiping stain on the right. Without starting with the dye, the stain would come out a lot lighter.

From the original questioner:
Basically I'm trying to stain 2000 sqft of red oak, as well as 4 flights of tread and riser end caps with cove moulding. I'm not looking for the cheapest and fastest way, but an efficient way that would be compatible with a two component water-based urethane and cost efficient for the client. Would a dye be an efficient way of staining this amount of footage as well as the stair parts?

From contributor R:
The dye stain would be the most productive method to use as you can just spray it on. If you use Sherwin Williams S61 dye stain you can mix with acetone and add a little water and it will penetrate into the pores better. You could also use India ink as your pigment stain. I would wipe off the India ink or the pigment stain to ensure you push it into the pores and remove all excess from the surface. I would start with a proportion of 4 parts acetone to 1 part water with the S61. Add more water for more penetration or less water for faster dry time.

From the original questioner:
Is spraying the only method of application for the dye?

From contributor R:
It depends on the dye stain that you use, but it is the fastest way to apply. NGR stains are alcohol based and dry very fast, making them difficult to wipe, and are designed to be sprayed. There are also water based aniline dyes like Lockwood or Transtint which can be sprayed or wiped, or both.

From contributor T:
Aniline dyes are not very color fast. I would go half a step farther and recommend either Behlen's Solarlux or Mohawk's Ultra Penetrating Stain (actually a dye). They can be sprayed, brushed or wiped and are compatible with your finish. They also stink - acetone.

From contributor D:
I love the Behlen stains but every time I use them under water it softens the finish. It shouldn't according to Target, since the alcohol will evaporate, but it does - eats up sealcoat as well (that makes sense). I could never see doing an entire floor with Behlen. Sets way too fast (even with retarder). You would have to spray it... Boom in a house. You would get your color and grain.