Tuning Color With Dye Toners

Dyes change appearance as they dry, and also when top-coated. Accurately predicting the final results takes a lot of practice. August 30, 2007

I was trying out the MLC Woodsong Microton dyes as a toner. I diluted with alcohol (no binder) and sprayed on a lacquered surface. It appeared to me that the dye got much darker after 10 minutes than what I saw hit the surface. Am I seeing things or is that the way it is?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor D:
You see what you see. You should then topcoat what you sprayed so that you can see your final result.

From the original questioner:
I see what I see. Yes. What do you see? My vision is not that great and I am just looking to corroborate what I think I saw. First things first, as I would like to know how to judge the dyes correctly. Then I will see how the dye reacts with lacquer. If I spray lacquer, it doesn't really tell me anything at this point.

From contributor D:
The only way that you can judge the dyes is to work with them, see what they do and through repeated experiences, see what you end up with. I used to have a Mohawk rep - one their very best - who told me a simple philosophy, "everyone pays their dues." What he meant was that after all the books, articles, suggestions and advice, I still had to get my hands dirty and play with the stuff, see what it does and learn the results.

Anyway, topcoat what you have with a suitable clear coat, and that will be your result. After you work with the stuff a few times in this way, you will have a sense of predictability, which is one of the things you are looking for.

From contributor T:
Toner with no binder? If you want a dye based toner, mix your dye with some finish, not with a dilutant. Obviously, be sure your dye is compatible with your finish.

From contributor L:
I have had this experience - sprayed on a toner (mine had lacquer as a binder) and as it dried, it got darker. I thought I was going to have to do another coat but it got dark enough with the first double coat. Kind of scary - you don't know how you have to spray it on because it will darken up within 10 minutes. I think as the thinner comes out of it and the particles lay down, the color becomes more solid, that is, the spaces between the particles become closer as the thinner gases off and the color becomes more opaque.

From contributor O:
The Microton dyes are hard to judge until they're topcoated, as the others have posted. The dye itself, either straight or diluted, will appear much different after topcoat and you really can't judge the finished product until then. They are really vibrant colors and should be used in conjunction with a stain or as a toner in your topcoat or mixed with a thinned topcoat as a wash. Just to reiterate, you'll have to work with them in your system to really be able to anticipate what they'll do. It's kind of cliche, but it's true - samples, samples.

From contributor G:
Ive had this experience, too. A number of years ago I made a spray stain using a VM&P naphtha base and NGR tinters. It sprayed out on the maple in a green color until it flashed off and showed a light tan. When it fully dried after about 15 minutes, it was a dull cinnamon color but, when we top coated it, it became the rich red brown that we needed. It was amazing to watch. So color does change and the best way to keep on track is with a step panel and a lot of practice so you know when to stop spraying.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the helpful posts. I'll check it out.

From contributor R:
The trick I use is to spray on some blush eliminator. It'll give you a good idea of what you'll get before you topcoat.