Water based paint over water based dye.


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Established Member
29 Aug 2012
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Hi All,

I have recently used an ebony Liberon Palette wood dye (water based) over poplar after doing several small trial runs. Whilst the finish is consistent along the grain the end grain has finished less consistently. I tried sanding the end grain to a higher grit as I read this may help.

As a whole I am quite happy with it but am considering trying to even the finish with a black paint over the top, I will loose the grain I know but I think I would rather a consistent finish than spots that are not.

My question is (and I will do some experiments first off course), could a water based black matt Bedec multi surface type of paint be applied over a water based dye?

Many thanks in advance.
End grain will always look darker than long grain. Normal practice is to use a grain sealer like shellac to close the end grain before applying any dye, stain or finish; even on closed pore woods. This is due to the end grain actually being 100's of little straws basically. You are never going to get it to look exactly the same but doing this helps minimise the amount of dye etc that is sooked up into the straws.
Unless you can shave off a couple of mm from your ends and seal them and then apply a little dye there is not much you will be able to change. Remember paint/stain is very different to a dye in the that the pigment is intended to sit on the surface of the material rather than penetrate into it as far as possible and will give you a very different appearance in the final finish

Thanks Droogs,

Yes, the dye is ebony so not such a big distinction in terms of depth of color, it more the inconsistency-nice across the grain but the end grain not so much. I know the paint will leave a very different finish but would offer the consistency back to the piece. My concern is the application of the water based paint over the top and whether or not the paint would be stable/adhere nicely long term. I am doing a few tests at the moment and it seems fine but you never know if someone has tried something similar and experienced any issues.
If you are going to paint then help it out by first giving the piece a quick going over with 320g paper. This will give the paint a key to help it bind with the surface and a much better "smoother" apperance. Though personally, If i was painting it I would go the whole hog and resand from 80 up each stage to 320 and then prime it, do the sanding again from 240 to 320 for a couple of layers of primer and then paint and denib with 320 between each coat of paint.
Thanks for the advice, I may well just bite the bullet and re-sand. Heres a picture if that helps, you can see the issue with the end grain inconsistency.


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Quite a coincidence, I am just finishing a Japanese console table which I had tried to ebonised using vinegar/tannin unfortunately it came out navy blue and I am just about to try this wood dye so simple to use, just a few drops in polyurethane varnish I enclose a photo of the dye and also of a rather wonderful turquoise covered piece of ash.
Ian S


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Hi , I find the rustins brand wood dye excellent to apply on white soft woods . Ebony is my personal favourite shade.


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After lots of experimenting on off cuts with various combinations I tired a water based Bedec matt black and put some linseed oil over the top and it came out nicely. I am worried that this is not a sensible combination though, can oils be used over water based paints?...I suspect not but worth asking.