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Thread: Lightfast alternative to aniline dyes?

  1. #1

    Lightfast alternative to aniline dyes?

    Finished some QS oak with a (FWW-described) aniline dye/oil stain combo and was surprised how fast the dye faded after a year of use on pieces exposed to (indirect) light. One could almost deduce how much light the piece had by comparing fading. The reddish hues in the (cherry) dyes faded to a dark grayinsh-brown.
    I do like the dye+ stain idea for QS oak. Is there some way to circumvent the aniline dye fading? FWIW the finish was 3 coats of Watco and a rubbed varnish on top.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Josko Catipovic View Post
    Finished some QS oak with a (FWW-described) aniline dye/oil stain combo and was surprised how fast the dye faded after a year of use on pieces exposed to (indirect) light. One could almost deduce how much light the piece had by comparing fading. The reddish hues in the (cherry) dyes faded to a dark grayinsh-brown.
    I do like the dye+ stain idea for QS oak. Is there some way to circumvent the aniline dye fading? FWIW the finish was 3 coats of Watco and a rubbed varnish on top.
    Yes, substitute the aniline dye you used before with a product called Behlen Solar Lux dye stain. These stains are highly UV and fade resistant and come in a wide array of colors, which can be intermixed for further customization if needed.
    There are a few online sources that you will find quite easily.

    Edwin

  3. #3
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    What specific product did you use? I'm really surprised you saw fading of the dye if you then used an oil based stain over it. The pigments in OB stains do a pretty good job of blocking UV.

    Transtint dye is about the most light fast dye available these days, soluble in both water, alcohol, and a few other solvents, and the one I use most. I haven't noticed any fading in projects I did over 10 years ago, some that get a fair amount of indirect light.

    If you want the best resistance to fading use a topcoat with a good UV stabilizer package. GF's High Performance Poly and SW's Kem Aqua Plus are two that first come to mind.

    John

  4. #4
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    The TransTint/TransFast metal-complex acid dyes are much more fade resistant than aniline dyes. (I'm not sure you can even buy actual aniline dyes these days, most of them were pretty carcinogenic and pulled from the market 50-70 years ago, replaced with azo dyes)

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Josko Catipovic View Post
    Finished some QS oak with a (FWW-described) aniline dye/oil stain combo and was surprised how fast the dye faded after a year of use on pieces exposed to (indirect) light. One could almost deduce how much light the piece had by comparing fading. The reddish hues in the (cherry) dyes faded to a dark grayinsh-brown.
    I do like the dye+ stain idea for QS oak. Is there some way to circumvent the aniline dye fading? FWIW the finish was 3 coats of Watco and a rubbed varnish on top.
    About all you can do is use a UV coating over a dye. They are just more prone to fade than an oil stain.

  6. #6
    FWIW, I used 'antique cherry aniline water stain' from LV under a Minwax #224 walnut stain. Very disappointed how quickly the pieces lost the reddish hue from the 'aniline' dye.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josko Catipovic View Post
    FWIW, I used 'antique cherry aniline water stain' from LV under a Minwax #224 walnut stain. Very disappointed how quickly the pieces lost the reddish hue from the 'aniline' dye.

    I have no clue of the source of their "aniline" dye since the true ones are no longer sold. But clearly it's not very light stable. So switch to ones that are, like Transtint. Don't give up on the process, just use products that are known to do their job well. I have fiinished several pieces with the same basic process you described above - Transtint, sealer, OB gel stain, Arm-R-Seal topcoats. There has been no apparent shift in color in over 10 years.

    John

  8. #8
    If you choose to try some Transtint, it would be interesting to take some scraps and dye one with Transtint and another with the LV aniline dye and put them both in a place where they are exposed to sunlight for a while to see what happens. It may take hours, days, weeks or even months to see a difference but based on what you have reported, I think it may happen sooner than we think.

    When I do things like this, I always cover part of the scrap with gaffer's tape or some other light blocking tape which, once removed, will give you a control sample not exposed to light. I still think you would find Solar Lux to be the most lightfast of all, but from the comments here, it sounds like Transtint might be more than good enough for your purposes.

    If you conduct a test like this, please report back with your findings.

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