View Full Version : Spray stain?

01-26-2006, 09:14 AM
Can you spray stain? I'm having a bear of a time learning how to stain anything and it's driving me nuts. The Minwax gel stains seem like a good idea, but I get brush strokes and uneven patches that just drive me nuts. It seems like you should be able to get a more uniform coat with a spray gun but I've just got no idea what to use. Guess I'm looking for some good basics on staining like products and techniques. Anyone got any of that?

01-26-2006, 09:28 AM
I don't have any idea why you are getting brush stroke marks with stains. what kind have you used?

I only spray water based dyes with an HVLP, as well as apply them with a brush.

I've used many pigmented stains, and have even applied them to floors with no "brush marks", or uneveness, which is why I'm curious as to what specific product(s) you are having trouble with. I apply stains, wait a few moments and wipe them off.

Danford C Jennings
01-26-2006, 09:48 AM
Yes, you can spray stain, Patrick. Though, not gel stains. You still have to rag off the excess.

Personally, I'm not a fan of gel stains; did some experimenting and just don't like 'em. Brush marks suggest to me that you're not ragging off, uneveness in tone can be caused by many things, from improper finish preperation to wood type.

I use oil based stains (Min-Wax Woodfinish) almost exclusively, brushed on then ragged off, occassionally on smaller pieces such as applied mouldings I'll rag it on. Never have experienced the problems you're having. Perhaps you could be a tad more specific, at least as to wood type...


01-26-2006, 10:43 AM
I suppose you could spray stain, but I'm not sure why you'd want to... I have always had pretty good results with just wiping Minwax stains on with an old T-shirt rag... waiting 10-15 minutes, then wiping off the excess with another old-Tshirt. No brushes to leave brush marks!

- Kevin

01-26-2006, 12:47 PM
I'm trying to stain some plywood scraps (12"x12") to find a good result for a ply tabletop I made. I'm using some cheap Lowes foam brush and Minwax Gel Stains initially (#603?). I tried the Polyshades and got basically the same result, but with a shiny coat to it. Based on that I assume it's something to do with my technique.

Here's my process: Sand to 220 and remove dust. Apply wood conditioner and wait 15 minutes. Apply stain with foam brush or rag and wipe off (I don't wait 15 minutes here. Should you?). Then I wait a few hours, depending on the instructions, and add a second coat. When I use the brush I try to make sure my strokes are all the way across for the most consistent appearance I can manage.

I purchased some Transtint dye and I was going to try and spray that. I'm trying to use the tabletop as training for the bedroom suite I'm going to do and that is big enough that I think I want to spray it, but I need to make sure I create the right color for it.

01-26-2006, 01:12 PM
Why are you adding a second coat? that's probably where the problem
is. Are you wanting it darker?
I usually dip a rag in the stain and wipe the piece down, then I'm
through. If you want it stained really dark or "grain covered"
you need to buy some lqacquer stain. It's what the factories use.
It can be sprayed on like paint, it dries immediately, so you
can build up coats, obscuring the wood.
I've used it and didn't like the results, but if that's what you're
trying to do the lacquer stain is the best way.
You have to spray it with a sprayer, like car paint.

Jim C.

01-26-2006, 02:26 PM
Sorry, should have specified that the above process was for gel stains. With the dye, I found that the coveage was pretty good once I got a pattern I could use (New to using a sprayer as well). The gel seemed to barely affect the plywood so I needed to add a second coat to get it darker. I'm thinking that perhaps I needed to apply the gel stain and then let it sit to soak in. Is this correct? I like the ease of the gel stains, but doubt I would maintain my sanity if I used it to do 2 nighstands, a dresser, an armoire and a bed. That's why I'm trying to learn how to use the sprayer now, so I don't screw the furniture up once with a bad finish.

If I do spray Transtint dye (cut with denatured alcohol), what kind of finish can I use on it? I want something sturdy, that can stand up to a bit of abuse without having to resort to those resin bartop kits I've seen at the big orange box :).

01-26-2006, 02:37 PM
When you can't get a stain to darken the wood enough, try using a dye. The effect is diffent and dye will be absorbed into the wood. Pigmented stains lodge in the pores. Blotch prone woods will still look like hell with a dye, unless you "dry" spray them.

Pick up Bob Flexner's book on finishing.

01-26-2006, 02:41 PM
>Why are you adding a second coat? that's probably where the
>is. Are you wanting it darker?
>I usually dip a rag in the stain and wipe the piece down,
>then I'm
>through. If you want it stained really dark or "grain
>you need to buy some lqacquer stain. It's what the factories
>It can be sprayed on like paint, it dries immediately, so
>can build up coats, obscuring the wood.
>I've used it and didn't like the results, but if that's what
>trying to do the lacquer stain is the best way.
>You have to spray it with a sprayer, like car paint.
>Jim C.
You mentioned you're using or at least have some alcohol compatible transtint. Double check and be sure it's not the kind for water solubility. If it really is for alcohol, and alcohol is the main thinner for shellac, why not use shellac and tint it with the transtint? That way, you can spray on a tinted finish with the dye in it, and adjust the strength of the dye with each successive coat, then spray more clear shellac, or lacquer over it to build a finish.

01-26-2006, 09:56 PM
A dyed topcoat will leave a nasty light mark if scratched. I try to limit tinting topcoats to about 20% of the total desired color. I'll tint the top coat if I need to darken one portion (say one or two drawer fronts) of a project. Putting all the color in the topcoats is risking complaints later on.

01-27-2006, 06:35 AM
What I have used is Lacquer stain and I can mix it with my lacquer
top coat or Lacquer sealer.
I have done that and it works really good.
I just don't like the "effect" spraying the stain gives.
It's kind of hard to explain but to me it's to "even"
All the grains and wood are alike and the grain losses its character.
I think the poly with the stain already mixed does the same.
I just don't like the way it looks.
This is a personal preference, I know. but I like the good ole
minwax wipe on stain. It's fast and easy to use.
Only drawback is, it takes time to dry.
But for me that's not a problem, I'm usually doing something else
while it dries anyway. I give it a couple of days usually.

Jim C.

01-28-2006, 01:38 PM
I agree it's more even, and that's precisely why I use it to even out oak. I hate the "zebra" effect flat sawn oak presents. I think that look should have died 2 decades ago.

01-29-2006, 06:11 PM
Polish, oil, wax and poly are the only finishes I use for the most part, but the February issue of Fine Woodworking has a pretty good article on stains and dyes that seems pretty interesting.

01-30-2006, 09:00 PM
Minwax sells their stains in spray cans as well. I used it once but did not find it so much better than ragging it on.


01-31-2006, 07:30 AM
I agree with John, I don't see how it can be any easier than
dipping a rag and wipeing it on. I can stain a cabinet as fast
as I can wipe it. No need to spray or brush it on first.
I put on a pair of gloves take a piece of cloth like an old white
sock,dip it in the can of stain and just wipe it on, simple.

Jim C.