Tinting Water-Based Finishes

Adding dye to a water-based finish is simple, and gives nice results. December 1, 2005

I am looking for a tintable WB poly or varnish. I am using ICI Woodpride now, and tinting is not suggested. I would like to continue using this, but... not tintable? From what I have found online, Fuhr 255 or 355 would work. I am in northwest Ohio and would like a local rep. Any suggestions or input would be great.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
By tintable, do you mean paint? Are you looking for a sprayable water-base paint with a urethane resin?

Homestead Finishing Products in Cleveland is a Fuhr distributor. You can use the Transtint dyes they sell to tint with. They will also mix custom colors for painting with WB.

From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
If it's just dye you want to add to the finish, there's no reason not to add it to the ICI product. Reduce the dye in water, stir into the WB finish, let it sit for an hour to incorporate, then spray away.

I might be missing something, but I skip the step of dissolving the dye before mixing it into the water based finish. You can put an eighth of a teaspoon of water-soluble aniline dye powder into a quart of water based finish to make a toner coat, then proceed with clear topcoats. This has worked very well with both Target/Oxford USL and Crystalac 2000 water based "lacquers" (which I believe are both acrylic resin). I spray with a 4-stage HVLP without thinning. You might want light mist coats for the next few coats because the burn-in will lift the dye a bit into the next coat (this was more of a concern with Crystalac than Target).

The colored, toner layer evens out the overall color of the finish, for example where solid wood meets veneer, and is a nice option for blotch-prone woods. It's also the way to spray shading (for example on a sunburst guitar top, in which case you would thin the material for the airbrush). Also, Bob Flexner's book and articles on finishing are a well-regarded resource.