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Thread: What kind of stain to use under a marine varnish?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    What kind of stain to use under a marine varnish?

    I’m refinishing my front door, am planning on multiple coats of a good marine varnish, but after sanding all the old finish off I realized it would look much better with a stain to darken it a little (turns out that under all that old finish is Cypress wood, and that light a wood would look odd on the house). Are there any types of stain that work best for outdoor and will also work under a marine varnish? In reading one of Flexner’s books it looks like I should go with a pigment stain rather than a dye stain, but I can’t find anything on the proper stain binder to use under a marine varnish (oil, water, varnish or lacquer binder). Perhaps I’m overthinking this and any stain will work; I’ve just put a lot of time into this door rehab, and would hate to waste it by picking the wrong stain...

    Thanks for any help!
    Last edited by Jim Becker; 06-11-2018 at 9:34 AM. Reason: Changed to default font for readability.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Use a solvent based stain where the solvent is compatible with your varnish. Dye or pigment is your choice. Dye will give a clear and bright colour. Pigment will give you colour without the sharp clarity. I don't use water-borne stain because of the grain raising and drying time. Lacquer based is a toner and you can make that by adding dye to your varnish. Cheers

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    You need to choose a colorant that is UV stable for this kind of application...

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Shoreline, CT
    I agree with Jim. While there are variations in light fastness among both pigments and dyes, on average pigments are considerably more light fast than dyes.

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