Spraying "Wiping Stains"

Here's a method for fast, even spray application of wiping stains by thinning 5-to-1 with naphtha. June 4, 2012

I want to try MLC's Amazing Stain. Is anyone using it? I want to use on cherry instead of spraying a dye then wiping stain.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor J:
Very easy to use. Makes the wood look like melamine. Try this instead. Take the regular Woodsong wiping stain, cut it with 5 parts naphtha, spray a light wet coat. You want the surface wet, but not pooling. Let it dry for 30 minutes, then topcoat. This is even more amazing than Amazing Stain. This will work with just about any fast-dry industrial type wiping stain. In other words, don't try it with the stuff you buy from Home Depot.

From contributor D:
You can use the clear base as a conditioner on cherry and then the colour of stain of your choice after that. Follow the directions. I did two cherry jobs back to back with the same stain and they look great. I don't use the clear as conditioner because I also use a toner on top.

From contributor J:
If you dilute it with naphtha and spray it on, you don't need to condition it, and you don't need to wipe it off, and you will not have any blotching. Try it. If you don't have any naphtha, give it a try with some thinner, but it does work best with naphtha.

From contributor M:

Contributor J, aren't you risking having adhesion problems building up your color with a wiping stain? I know the tech guys would not advise that. Even though you are diluting the stain with a solvent, you are still left with a layer of wiping stain. I would feel better about using a dye for that application.

From contributor J:
Actually, Valspar sells a thinner specifically for this, as does Goudey. My rep tells me it's basically just naphtha and to just use naphtha. It also works with thinner, but I find the thinner flashes off a little too fast for the stain to soak in and it doesn't look quite as good, but it's certainly good enough to make a sample piece.

My rep also told me it will work with almost all the "fast dry" industrial stains. I too was a skeptic - halos, adhesion, blotching, etc. All I can say is try it with a sample board, do your adhesion tests, or whatever you want to do. I will never wipe a wiping stain again, or waste time with conditioners/washcoats.

The only exception I have found are the sort of funny pastel coloured stains such as the blues, whites, etc. They seem to carry too much pigment that doesn't soak in to the wood. All your standard and typical wood colours work fine though.

How I spray a door horizontally:
- Two fast passes on all edges so it doesn't run.
- Quick pass to fill in the middle that didn't receive any "blow by" from spraying the edges.
- Slower pass over the entire face of the door so it is completely wet, but not pooling on the surface. You will need to experiment a little to find the correct amount, but it's easy. I spray the face starting at the edge furthest from me with the gun at a slight angle so it gets down to where the panel meets the frame, then when I hit the middle of the door, I spin it 180 degrees and keep going so the gun is now angled to hit the opposite edge where the panel meets the frame.
- Place door on drying rack until solvents have flashed off (about 5 minutes).
- Repeat process on the other side, including hitting the edges with two quick passes.

I usually spray the back of the door first, then the front. Before I spray the stain, I give the doors a quick wipe with a dry cloth and blow it off with air. In about a half hour, I spray the seal coat. What used to take 4 hours to stain can now be done in about 45 minutes, and looks much better.

From contributor J:
Here is a photo of one of the sample doors I did when I first tried this. Door is maple. Notice how the end grain is the same colour as the face - even colour, and no blotching. Left side of the door was glazed.

Click here for higher quality, full size image

From contributor M:
Those maple doors look great! I am tired of all the steps you have to go through on maple and cherry. I think I will start experimenting today, because your technique looks like it will save a lot of time, and looks good too. I have just always used the rep's advice, and done all the multi-steps to finishing maple. Do you also do this on oak and hickory, or just woods that would normally blotch?

From contributor J:
I do it on all woods. Why would you ever want to wipe a stain again? The wiping is what takes so much time. Use a small tip in your gun (I use a 1.0mm in my gravity feed). To get darker colours than what the stain will allow, shoot an NGR as you normally would, then shoot the stain as described above. No need for a washcoat in between. It just takes a little practice to get it to fill in where the panel meets the frame. Just follow my steps above and it will be fine. If you already have experience spraying NGR, you're already there.

From contributor R:
What color is the stain you used on those maple doors?

From contributor M:
I did some experimenting today with your method, and I like what I see so far! It looks better than the multi-step process I was doing before, with 1/3 of the work and material, not to mention next to no rags will be used. Thanks!

From contributor J:
I don't remember for sure what colour it is, but I think it's Antique Mahogany. It's definitely a Valspar stain. If you are familiar with Valspar's line, they have what is called interblend (take 10 base colours and they give the recipes for 30 other colours mixed from those 10). The colour could be a variant of one of those 30, but the Antique Mahogany will be close if that is not it. I'm about 80% certain its Antique Mahogany. The glazed side has ML Cambell Amazing Glaze sandwiched between two coats of conversion varnish. Glaze colour is Van Dyke Brown.

Glad to see you actually gave it a try. We sometimes get so stuck in our ways that we fail to see there may be a better one. Once you get a little practice with this, you won't wipe again.

From contributor A:
I'm new to finishing. What does NGR mean? I need to do dark chocolate color stain on alder. Can you explain better how to do the steps on darker colors? What about air psi?

From contributor J:
NGR stands for "Non Grain Raising" and is essentially a dye in an extremely fast drying solvent. They can only be sprayed. ML Campbell calls them as Microton Dyes.

I have a little regulator with a gauge attached to the bottom of my gun. I find I'm usually somewhere around 20psi with the trigger pulled. (Devilbiss CVi Gravity feed)

To get an espresso colour:
- Spray a very dark walnut coloured NGR.
- Spray a very dark wiping stain per my advice above.
- Sealcoat.
- Topcoat.

Optionally, you can add a toner coat between the sealcoat and topcoat if you need to tweak the colour a little. If you don't know what a toner is, add a little of the NGR/dye to your clear finish and spray a coat.

From contributor M:
Using your stain technique, how do you spray vertical pieces? If you were spraying a pantry with 2 finished ends, how would you go about it? Do you just spray several lighter coats until the color gets dark enough?

From contributor J:
I spray virtually nothing vertical. Just about everything has applied end panels. I would probably do as you suggest and build the colour a little slower with multiple passes, allowing the solvent to flash off before spraying the next pass. You will just need to experiment.

From contributor S:
When the doors expand and contract, won't you get an unfinished line where the panel meets the frame?

From contributor J:
That's a problem you will run into with any spray only stain, even wiping stains if you are not diligent enough to flood the inside edge. This method does seem to get the stain to creep in under the panel better than the other spray-only methods, though.

You could take a glazing pen and run a quick line around where the panel meets the frame. Maybe use an 8:1 mixture for this. Finishing this time of year it really isn't too much of a concern. But you are correct that it's a concern when finishing in the high humidity seasons.