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Old 07-09-2015, 08:37 PM   #1
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Default Need advice for staining stairs grey

Hi guys! I am having a big problem lately when staining stairs grey. I will explain and hopefully I can get some advice.

All of the stairs I am staining are Red Oak. We are matching refinished floors. I have been to a handful of companies to have the stain matched and all of them have told me to not wipe hard or not wipe at all, as the grey colorant will come off. Either way, when the stain is dry it looks good! Then when we apply the sealer or poly, the stain seems to lift and smear or smudge. It looks terrible! Very blotchy and uneven. Almost like the stain is fresh again. We try and not brush it out too much, but its not the way to go. The stain we usually use it Solvent based. I have tried using Oil sealer and Poly, I have tried no sealer and just Poly, and I have tried Water based Poly. I am not too concerned as the colour match is good, but as we start smudging the stain, it throws everything off. Again, this only happens with the grey colours and its driving me crazy!

Any advice of ideas would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 07-09-2015, 10:07 PM   #2
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This is a bit of a long shot, but we've had good luck greying oak with iron acetate, AKA "liquid nightmare." We make it by mixing white vinegar with steel wool and letting it react for a few days. We strain out the remaining debris and mop on the solution. Each successive application greys the wood more; eventually, it will turn black, so some test samples are crucial.
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Old 07-09-2015, 10:19 PM   #3
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is it it actually possible to STAIN red oak to gray? It sounds like the stain they are making is just a thin transparent paint whose tint sits on the surface in an unstable condition.

Since oxalic acid was mentioned in another thread, wouldn't it be wise to use it first to bleach out the red oak so a proper stain be used?

and @Gough, you mentioned water-soluble aniline dye when staining maple came up. Would this be an application where that was appropriate?

I don't know, it's tough to recommend the best solution without seeing the situation.



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Old 07-09-2015, 10:44 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daArch View Post
is it it actually possible to STAIN red oak to gray? It sounds like the stain they are making is just a thin transparent paint whose tint sits on the surface in an unstable condition.

Since oxalic acid was mentioned in another thread, wouldn't it be wise to use it first to bleach out the red oak so a proper stain be used?

and @Gough, you mentioned water-soluble aniline dye when staining maple came up. Would this be an application where that was appropriate?

I don't know, it's tough to recommend the best solution without seeing the situation.
I thought about anilines, but it's hard to get to grey.
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Old 07-10-2015, 02:03 AM   #5
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I'm not sure how it would look on Red Oak, but have you tried Osmo Pro Color Oil? It's available in Graphite.
http://www.osmona.com/interior/Pro_Color.shtml


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Old 07-10-2015, 02:57 AM   #6
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Sometimes a simple stain and clear system on wood won't get you where you need to go. Sounds like this is one of those circumstances.

Use a dye stain first to get you halfway to 3/4 of your colour. Follow with a wiping stain to achieve the look you're after. You're going to need to go to a place that deals specifically with wood finishes and get them to make you a system.

When the stain is dry, spray on a sealer (not topcoat - specifically a sealer). Then sand and go ahead with your topcoats. Dyes must be sprayed (not with an airless - use a conventional gun, even a cheap gun would work - the smaller the needle the better) as they dry extremely fast, and sealers are best sprayed as well. You can brush your topcoats on after the sealer has dried.

From what you wrote, it sounds like you haven't wiped off your stain, and when you brush on your topcoat it's re-melting your stain. It's never wise to leave too much stain on your surface as it will interfere with the curing of the topcoat and your whole system will fail rapidly.

Last edited by Rcon; 07-10-2015 at 03:00 AM..
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Old 07-10-2015, 08:58 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rcon View Post
Sometimes a simple stain and clear system on wood won't get you where you need to go. Sounds like this is one of those circumstances.

Use a dye stain first to get you halfway to 3/4 of your colour. Follow with a wiping stain to achieve the look you're after. You're going to need to go to a place that deals specifically with wood finishes and get them to make you a system.

When the stain is dry, spray on a sealer (not topcoat - specifically a sealer). Then sand and go ahead with your topcoats. Dyes must be sprayed (not with an airless - use a conventional gun, even a cheap gun would work - the smaller the needle the better) as they dry extremely fast, and sealers are best sprayed as well. You can brush your topcoats on after the sealer has dried.

From what you wrote, it sounds like you haven't wiped off your stain, and when you brush on your topcoat it's re-melting your stain. It's never wise to leave too much stain on your surface as it will interfere with the curing of the topcoat and your whole system will fail rapidly.
While we use the dye/stain combo fairly often, getting to gray is a tough one. Pickling might be easier. There are the Minwax pastel stains, for instance. http://www.minwax.com/wood-products/stains-color-guide/

On a broader note, we usually mop on the dyes. We use either Jeff Jewitt's TransTints or Moser's water-soluble anilines. The only time we spray is complicated surfaces like louvered doors. We can had apply solvent-based sealers over the dyes, but not water-based ones.
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Old 07-10-2015, 03:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gough View Post

On a broader note, we usually mop on the dyes. We use either Jeff Jewitt's TransTints or Moser's water-soluble anilines. The only time we spray is complicated surfaces like louvered doors. We can had apply solvent-based sealers over the dyes, but not water-based ones.
Interesting. The dyes i've used (both waterbased and solvent) dry far too fast to wipe on. The only time I did try wiping it I didn't like how it looked afterwards - too muddy.
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Old 07-10-2015, 06:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rcon View Post
Interesting. The dyes i've used (both waterbased and solvent) dry far too fast to wipe on. The only time I did try wiping it I didn't like how it looked afterwards - too muddy.
Out of curiosity, what brands of dyes do you use?

With the exception of a few TransTint colors that we have on hand, we use Moser's water-soluble anilines. For our stock solutions, we make them up in distilled water at 4 oz/ gallon. You can't dawdle when you're applying them, but it's not a panic.
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Old 07-10-2015, 08:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CNQ
Hi guys! I am having a big problem lately when staining stairs grey. I will explain and hopefully I can get some advice. All of the stairs I am staining are Red Oak. We are matching refinished floors. I have been to a handful of companies to have the stain matched and all of them have told me to not wipe hard or not wipe at all, as the grey colorant will come off. Either way, when the stain is dry it looks good! Then when we apply the sealer or poly, the stain seems to lift and smear or smudge. It looks terrible! Very blotchy and uneven. Almost like the stain is fresh again. We try and not brush it out too much, but its not the way to go. The stain we usually use it Solvent based. I have tried using Oil sealer and Poly, I have tried no sealer and just Poly, and I have tried Water based Poly. I am not too concerned as the colour match is good, but as we start smudging the stain, it throws everything off. Again, this only happens with the grey colours and its driving me crazy! Any advice of ideas would be greatly appreciated!
You should try a couple wash coats of 10:1 denatured alcohol to water based sealer/topcoat. The water Bourne won't react to the oil. It must be sprayed. But it will lock in the stain. The alcohol will dry fast and you can start top coating all most right away.
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Old 07-10-2015, 11:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gough View Post
Out of curiosity, what brands of dyes do you use?

With the exception of a few TransTint colors that we have on hand, we use Moser's water-soluble anilines. For our stock solutions, we make them up in distilled water at 4 oz/ gallon. You can't dawdle when you're applying them, but it's not a panic.
I've only used MLC's dyes. Azoton and microton. Of the two, microton is my favorite, though the solvent is acetone so after application it's touch dry literally in seconds.

I wouldn't mind getting my hands on the aniline dyes to try out.
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