Staining wood with paint

topic posted Tue, March 1, 2005 - 12:54 PM by  Desdemona
I have a small raw wood box that I want to color but I'm not sure how. I want to use bright colors, but I don't want to paint it. I want it to look like a light wash or stain in the wood grain. Do you think watercolors would work? watered down acrylics? food coloring?

Thanks for any advice!
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  • stain comes in a variety of funky colours; we made our son end tables and stained them turquoise. i have also watered down latex paint to use as a stain and brushed it on, then rubbed in. i have dyed fabric with kool aid as it has such strong colouring and i've heard of people using that, but not tried it myself.
    • I love and highly recomend colored stain. I have stained chip wood boxes every color of the rainbox and I am always pleases with the results.

      I have also stained wood with different "food". Coffee, tea, berries, herbs, flowers, etc. You really have to experiment to make sure they dry to the color you like, sometimes you get this poopy-brown color--YUCK!

      You can also do a great job mixing and staining wood with food coloring. It is cheap and easy to use. But be wary if you are going to place the food colored item near anything wet because it will bleed if you don't seal it.
  • The sky's the limit when it comes to stains. But before you stain, on raw wood, you should sand with a medium grit sandpaper and use a wood conditioner. The softer your wood is, the deeper your stain will penetrate and the result will probably be too dark and blotchy, with very little grain showing through. The conditioner keeps your stain from going too deep in the grain.
    Another way, to do what you want to do, is to try and apply your stain as evenly as possible, then sand back down until you get to just the color in the grain. This works great if you don't have any detail on your box.
    • Wow, thanks for all the tips. It's a small box and I'll probably just use 2 colors, one for the lid and one for the sides, then I'm going to decoupage a picture to the top. Can I use modge podge to seal the whole thing? to keep the stain/paint from bleeding? or do I need a seperate product for that?
      • i would use a water based varathane or polyurethane to seal the whole thing. decide whether you want a glossy or matte finish. i always prefer the matte. i find the glossy distracting and takes away from the piece.
        • It's important to remember that oil- and water-based coverings can only work in certain combination.

          Staining with paint by its nature requires an oil-based paint. If you cover this with a latex clear coat, you may have problems with adhesion. You'll need to let it dry VERY well prior to the water-based clear coat. If you stain with a water-based product, you'll get more of a pastel effect as the coloring won't penetrate as well. Plus the graining of the wood will be muted. Less messy certainly, but also less dramatic.

          I've had great success with analine dyes, which bring out the graining in a great way and work well with both oil and water overcoats. Mod Podge - ugh. Unless you're covering a collage, stick with a simple clear coat. I like the Varathane Diamond finish product line. Goes on quick, dries quick and hard. Multiple coats in one day and it doesn't leave the project with any yellowish filminess at all.
  • I’ve stained an unfinished wood bookcase using deep purple sparkly fabric dye I picked up at the Art Store. It worked really well and methinks would look even better if I got around to sealing it. ;)
    • I found a brand of wood stain that works really well - nice deep rich colors (none of that watered down stuff from home depot), without covering up some of the natural grain underneath. Brand is called Woodburst; here are samples from their website:

      I'd give them a call to see who is a local retailer, or you can order online.

      Be sure to post pics when you're done! Good luck.

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