Tinting Waterbornes for an Amber Effect

Is there any way to make waterborne finishes take on the warm amber glow characteristic of solventborne formulas? July 18, 2013

Has anyone here tried tinting a finish such as Agualente for a more amber tone with any success? We work with cherry quite a bit and in trying to switch to waterbourne finishes Iím not thrilled with the washed out look most have on natural cherry. I know General Finishes offers DuraVar, which we are experimenting with and seems to have a slight tint, but locally, Agualente is available much quicker, so we wondered about tinting ourselves. Are there any other choices? I read somewhere that Cyrstalaq has a similar finish but don't know anyone that's used it.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor F:
I tried Agualente several months ago and was able to tint with the normal alcohol water based dyes. The results were not satisfactory to me, it is just not crisp and clear. I have tried all that's available in the US over the last couple of years, and in my opinion none can match or even come close to solvent base.

From contributor N:
When finishing cherry using WB I always spray a coat of sealcoat shellac first or shellac mixed from flakes. It definitely gives it a solvent look when using WB.

From contributor B:
I've been using WB for over decade and know what you mean. What I've done/do is to add (I use GF's full line of finish/dyes etc.) some orange dye about a tablespoon per gallon. I use it all the way through sealer to final coat. To check it out take a piece of maple and put on three coats (two sealers and a TC) and you'll see a nice warm amber tone that's very close to a nitro look. Itís definitely warmer than solvent water whites.

From contributor M:
Agualente is not the nicest looking WB product I have used. General Finishes and Target Coatings are the best I have used. Honey amber trans tint dye is a good option for making a finish look more solvent like if you want to stick to doing 100% WB, otherwise go with the first coat of dewaxed shellac. I would use fresh mixed shellac as the seal coat can cause the WB top coats to do weird stuff. Donít overdo it with the dye though. The WB coating will start to amber on its own over the first couple of months so it is better to go a little to the light side of things and let it age naturally.

From contributor S:
I prefer to avoid using shellac in a kitchen/bath setting if at all possible. I don't have any proof that it would in fact be a weak link so that is more of a personal choice. I am not saying this to call anybody out, but it is worth thinking about. Seal coat has been known to cause problems with some WB coatings due to PH issues. This can be avoided by mixing your own from flakes. I have not finished much cherry with WB but the next time I do I will be experimenting with target wiping stains.

My favorite WB spray stain is target em1000 tinted with trans tint dyes. I don't know if it is just me but the latest batches of EM1000 seem to give more depth, and pop the grain/figure when used as a sealer. I remember that this was quite apparent so something must have been improved. I usually spray another light coat after scuff sanding prior to moving on to a top coat.

From the original questioner:
I mainly started working with Agualente because of easy availability, but both General Finishes and Target can ship to my door so that might be the way to go. I also noticed GF has a new waterbourne CV that sounds interesting. I have clients that want "greener" products, and my shop setup lends itself better to non-solvent spraying, which is why we are trying to make the switch to WB products.