Coloring lacquer

      Materials and methods for adding colorant to a clear lacquer base. June 5, 2001

I'm trying to color a clear lacquer base, and I've heard of some different ways (japan colors, poster paint, etc.), but haven't tried any. I need some advice on how many parts thinner and colorant to mix with the lacquer.

Forum Responses
Try taking the japan color and mixing it in your lacquer thinner, then add that to your lacquer. Are you trying to make a toner or an opaque finish? Make sure to strain. Toners generally have about 2 ounces of colorant per quart of finish.

Generally, Huls 844 colorants are the product of choice, as well as Mohawk's Base Concentrates and Behlen's Master Colors. These are paste colorants ideally suited for this purpose.

You really have to do quite a bit of mixing. Plus you have to occasionally mix because the colorants settle out of suspension. Stirring is not always good enough. Serious mixing like what you do with an eggbeater is better.

I have taken the Sherwin-Williams SherWood stain and dumped that in my lacquer, and even my Duravar. This requires a lot of mixing and straining, and if you do too much, you get into trouble because of compatibility issues. Don't confuse the SherWood stain with their new line of thick wiping stains. Those new stains were not made for us (although we sure can find uses for them).

M.L. Campbell's Woodsong stains will behave the same way as the Sherwin-Williams stains.

Generally speaking, you can use a dye and mix it into the finish at no more than 5%. Make sure to apply at least 2 coats of the toned finish and vary the spray pattern somewhat from the first application to reduce shadowing.

When using catalyzed finishes, add the catalyst and mix thoroughly, then any reducer, followed by the color.

From the original questioner:
I'm trying to make an opaque for use over BIN white pigmented primer/sealer. I was going to try Behlen's Master color, but I thought it was in a powder form and I know even less about the right mixing ratio for that.

The Mohawk catalog says that to make a shading or toning lacquer, you should add one to three ounces per gallon. Three ounces per gallon is about 10% by volume.

Remember to really mix well. If you have a paint shaker, all the better. It's not like adding sugar to your coffee or milk to your tea. It's more like adding Nestle's Quik to your milk, and your mixing techniques have to be aggressive enough to really disperse the colorant.

You are referring to quart measurement. The number you are giving is around 2.5 percent, which is about right, not to exceed 5 percent. Right? Just checking.

I meant 3 ounces to the gallon by volume. But when I said that the ratio was 10%, I do not know what I was thinking. My math is WAY wrong. Your math is much better than mine, and you have an eagle eye. For customers with an eagle eye, I use dead flat lacquer.

My ratio comes straight out of the Mohawk catalog. I have not seen any mixing ratios anywhere else. I can't tell you what I do, because sometimes I buy my toners pre-mixed from a company that sells OEM finishes, and most of the time I mix my own by eye, but write down the formulas so I can duplicate the mixture anytime.

If the opaque finish needed is for a large project, maybe it's easier to just have your coatings supplier custom mix it for you. You can always tint it later with UTCs (universal tinting colors) if you need to tint, shade, or kick the color in a certain direction.

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