Maple Stain Techniques

Tips on achieving an even tint in Maple using spray dye, a seal coat, and a wiping stain. October 13, 2008

I am staining a cabinet/island project of maple ply and hardwood facings/trim. I’m using SW custom mix - lots of pigment as maple wood resisted coloring to match 45 year old existing interior trim finish.

I did quick wipe with a wet cloth to establish bite for stain. Most areas look great, but a few sections of hardwood rejected coloring and show only the gold of a brown/gold stain. Should I sand down and start over in those areas? Some (small) areas of plywood show a bit of blotching. Any remedy for those? Technique/product recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor R:
What’s the base color and what are you trying to cover it with?

From the original questioner:
SW Golden Oak is the base we started with. Intend to top-coat with Target's WB Ultima spray lacquer.

From contributor J:
Instead of wiping the wood with water, try mixing a 50/50 blend of water and denatured alcohol and spray a light coat onto the wood. It should be wet enough to be wet but light enough to dry within a few minutes. Then spray a dye stain for your base color, finally going over that with a wiping stain.

From contributor D:
Contributor J's hit the nail on the head. Diacetone alcohol also works to open up the grain of maple which I find to be very hard to stain with wiping stains. Dyes are the best was to go to get most of the color on maple. A wiping stain afterwards often helps highlight whatever grain is there. Dye is the key for sure.

From contributor S:
Use a thin washcoat over the dye stain so that you’re wiping stain doesn't pull the dye stain out or blotch it if the wipe stain drips. The washcoat locks the dye stain in place. It will also help to control blotching which is what maple wants to do.

From contributor C:
Why would you use a washcoat over the dye stain? I've always done a washcoat first, and then spray and wiped my ARTI dye stain over top. Unless you are talking about achieving a dark color with the dye, washcoat, wipe stain method.

From contributor C:
Edit the above post - I've always done a washcoat, spray/wipe dye stain, seal, toner coat, topcoat.

From contributor P:
I do the same thing Contributor S recommends. I spray a thin coat of dewaxed shellac over my waterbased dye to lock it in. Otherwise, any waterbased stain, glaze, topcoat, etc. can re-dissolve the dye, causing undesirable effects. I imagine the same would hold true when using solvent based products if the later coats have solvents that will dissolve the dye. If you're going over the dye with a pigmented stain, the washcoat has to be thin enough to allow the stain to bite, otherwise it will wipe right off, or just sit on top of the sealer, which I would think could result in adhesion issues.