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Thread: Help: Water soluble dye bleeding through

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2021
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    38

    Help: Water soluble dye bleeding through

    Hello,

    I was wondering what I can do about water based dyes bleeding through my topcoat. Last year I made a coffee table and used a water based dye (transfast) to match our dinning set. I then sprayed it with General's water based polyurethane top coat. I used my hvlp and did about 5 coats as I have little kids and wanted lots of protection. My wife noticed whenever she wipes the table down with a wet cloth some of the red dye comes off on the cloth. It isn't a big deal as it's just a little.
    20210112_175342.jpg

    Well this week I made her a plant stand to go into the living room next to the table.
    20211016_180424.jpg

    She wanted it to match the coffee table so I found my dye and dyed it to match. I then proceeded to put a few coats of the same poly on top before I remembered the issue with the dye bleeding through when wet. Sure enough after wiping the stand with a damp cloth it bled through.
    20211021_091321.jpg

    I don't want to leave the stand as is because if it gets wet that red will transfer to the white flower pot and ruin the clean look. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I can do to make sure the red stays where it is. I was going to pick up a can of shellac and give that a try but looks like everywhere locally is sold out. I don't think more coats of poly would work as my previous table had so many coats sprayed on and it still bled through.

    Any ideas would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    8,116
    That's really hard to imagine. I can see the dye bleeding up into the first coat of clearcoat, but that should not happen with the subsequent coats provided you allowed enough time for each coat to dry.

    When I use dyes I dust on the first finish coat, let it dry, then spray a full wet coat at 3 - 5 mils. I let that dry, scuff sand with 400 or 600 grit, then spray another wet coat. I use Transtint dyes, which are both water and alcohol soluble, so it should be no different than TransFast with WB topcoats. I never get dye bleed through. I use mostly GF products, too, usually Enduro Clear Poly.

    With where you now are, I'd scuff sand what you have, dust on another coat, let it dry, and then spray one more full wet coat. I'll be a monkey's uncle if dye is still bleeding through. If it does I'd switch to Transtint for your future projects with WB topcoats. Alternatively, a light coat of Sealcoat shellac on top of what you now have, followed by another coat of your clearcoat should work, too. I just don't like layering different products like that.

    Good luck.

    John

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2021
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    38
    Thanks John
    I'm surprised as well. I'm going to let it rest for a few days and then try again. It'll give me a few days to get some shellac flakes from Lee Valley. None of the big box stores near me have any kind of shellac in stock.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    60,552
    When I use water soluble dye, I shoot a quick barrier coat of wax free shellac over it...SealCoat to be specific because it's readily available and very light in color.
    --

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

  5. #5
    I'm somewhat shocked at this, though I've done a sample carving, saturated it with dark stain, sealed with shellac (not enough) and had it bleed into subsequent paint layer, causing a color shift.
    NOTE:
    1> this was an EXTREME amount of color in my case
    2> the carving had excessive end-grain which the dye could wick through

    Another perspective to consider: I would go with a dye for a base coat, and use an oil-based stain or gel stain as a second step to deepen the color vs. highly saturated with dye, regardless of type. You'll find the dye process opens pores, encouraging more of the second variety of stain to penetrate, resulting in a deeper tone than when tested on raw wood = a good way to more color depth.
    Theory: oil stain will likely have some sealing properties, and you've dramatically reduced the percentage of dye.

    Final note: Zinnser seal-coat, as mentioned above used in every situation.
    Exception: READ INSTRUCTIONS for your clear coat. Old Masters specifically states NO SHELLAC underneath. Target coatings says PH of some water-born topcoats causes crackling, so thin 50/50 with alcohol for two thin, penetrating coats for theirs.

    The rules are constantly changing as we settle more into the water-born formulations, and the no shellac rule is a new catch...

    jeff

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2021
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    38
    Thanks for all the replies. Just as a follow up I found a can of shellac (the last one) at my local Canadian Tire. After 2 coats of that I still saw a bit of red dye bleeding through. I decided enough with the liquid top coats and applied 2 coats of hard floor wax my friend gave me. Once it was cured I buffed it with a towel and told my wife not to move the white planter once I put it in the plant stand.
    The final stand came out nice I think. 20211212_100042.jpg

  7. #7
    I was thinking along roughly the same lines as Jeff. Try an oil based top coat over the water soluble dye work here? You could try it on scrap to see. (I have not tried this myself. It is an alternate idea.)
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    N.E. Ohio
    Posts
    6,270
    Transfast has a statement on their tech docs that mentions this color migration when certain waterborne topcoats are applied.
    https://homesteadfinishingproducts.c...tds_122005.pdf :

    ""Top-coating the Dye

    TransFast Dyes must be finished with a clear finish to seal thecolor. Any finish can be used; however problems can occur with certain finishes. When topcoating with water-based finishes, the dye can migrate or “bleed” into the topcoat causing amuddy appearance. We recommend using non-water based sealer such as dewaxed shellac oran oil finish to eliminate this.""
    My granddad always said, :As one door closes, another opens".
    Wonderful man, terrible cabinet maker...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2021
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    38
    Thanks Rich for the link.

    Looks like an oil based top coat is the way to go. I'll know for next time.

    Serves me right for not RTFM

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