Dark Maple Tinted Sealer Finish

Tips on how to achieve very dark coverage using dyes added to vinyl sealer. April 18, 2010

I'm working with a client on a furniture piece and from the samples of maple finishes I showed them they love the look of the finishes that are just NGR dye added to vinyl sealer, except they want it much darker than I'm able to achieve using that method. I'm currently using Mohawk and can use 1 part NGR dye to 15 parts vinyl sealer. I find if I go any heavier I get spotting - I'm guessing for the added alcohol solvents in the NGR. So that said it will take many coats of vinyl sealer to achieve that color (10 plus mils thick (wet in one pass) to get the color dark enough) and I'm concerned about the finishes lasting with that much sealer under it. Top coat doesn't really matter, although I usually stick to pre-cat and cv, but this is in a bedroom so I don't think it's really necessary.

Any suggestions on how to achieve a heavy tinted color without using a dye or wiping stain base color? The color is 3 parts Extra Dark Walnut to 1 Van Dyke Brown.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor R:
Can you use a dye stain on the raw wood and then tone it to get your final color?
I think you need to rethink your finishing schedule and make up some more color samples. Mohawk dye stains can get you just about any color under the sun. You donít have to dilute them as much as you have been. One part of stain to fifteen parts of sealer is an awful lot.

From the original questioner:
When the dye or stain highlights the pores and grain is what the custom doesn't like, they've seen samples and when next to finishes in question I don't think they really consider them an option. I personally prefer the route you are talking about but I don't think I can convince the customer that they should like it more that the other and I'm trying to avoid telling them I can't. I would rather sell them exactly what they want even if I don't personally think it's the most appealing finish. The darkness of the sealer hides most of the grain instead of highlighting it and the color is extremely consistent. Since it's going in their bedroom and they'll be staring at it every night I want them to have to live with what they chose and not what I pushed on them or told them what I was limited in making. I can quote the Mohawk guys always saying no more than 2 oz per quart when making toners with sealers or finishes, which is 1:16 correct? Are they mistaken on that figure? I like to push the limits and didn't think one less part would hurt. I've never used their toner base before, as I read it is a vehicle for their pigment concentrates but maybe the low solids would be better for making this dark toner than the vinyl sealer. Any thoughts?

From contributor R:

Those numbers from Mohawk are most likely meant for a toning ratio. Youíre trying to achieve a real dark color by toning but you need to get some color onto the wood first. I suppose you could add some black to your mixture to get everything to a darker color, but I would try a different route myself. Are you adding 2oz of dye stain to the sealer and then thinning it out or are you adding the dye stain to the thinned out sealer? Have you tried spraying a water based dye stain onto the maple to get your deep color and then applying the toner coats to get your final color?

From the original questioner:
I find I don't need to think out any of Mohawks coatings I've used, so that's 2oz of ultra penetrating stain (dye) to 1qt vinyl sealer. I've tried the base colors prior to the tinted sealer (not water based, just the NGR), and even a wash coat so try to seal the grain somewhat to kill the grain popping effect they don't like, but either the grain gets accentuated or the dye puddles on the surface of the sealer (tiny droplets form) and I've not been able to achieve a happy medium with that method.

I've also tried adding some trans tint concentrate to think vinyl sealer but for the six colors I have they get away from the target color, but the darkness from the concentrate vs. dye stain is what I need. I have no faith in being able to mix this exact color from concentrates (the designer had me do samples adding 5% of VDB to the EDW until we reached 25%, needless to say 20% and 30% were not it so I'm not sure I could fool her with a mixture of my own unless it was perfect somehow. I've even toyed with the idea of letting the dye mix sit out in an open container until approximately half the solvent evaporates and then having a concentrated dye that would make a darker sealer.

From contributor P:
Try tinting your topcoats, not just your sealer, and build the color until you get where you need to be. Dye would give you a big head start - if you do enough toning over dye, you can obliterate the grain. If they don't want grain, you could save yourself time and money and just paint the wood.

From contributor F:
I suggest you search the Knowledge Base on this site and enter "spraying stain". You will find much useful info, especially the fact that with proper dye products, reduction, gun set-up and technique you can spray stain without wiping and likely get what you need. Remember - practice and samples.

From contributor C:
If the ultra penetrating stains are based on the same chemistry as the solar lux dyes Mohawk manufactures then the beading problem is because they have a high amount of water in them to produce the penetrating aspect in/on the wood. Solar lux's are based on the blending of water soluble only dyes mixed with water and water miscible mono-ethyl ethers like carbitol or others.

The result is you can only add so much water to vinyl/acrylic/nitro/etc. before it will do as you are witnessing and sweat out of the mix and bead up. The other solvents evaporate so much faster and allowing the separate molecules to form into beads of water on the surface. In other words it is not as stable as a mixture of closely blended no aqueous aromatic or aliphatic solvents with close evaporating profiles.

When I've had to use these types of dyes (in shops where that's all they had) I used them straight out of the bottle with just 5% - 10% binder (vinyl/nitro etc.). Over sealer I would spray them on dry, let them sit for 20 min and spray again and after a few times seal them in with a thinned out coat 60/40 of sealer, then repeat it all again till my color was achieved. You might try this or you can start from scratch using other dyes such as those from Keystone that don't contain any water just the mono ethyl ethers that are present as a viscosity suppressant.