Color correction (toning)


My Douglas Fir table has a slight pinkish cast. How can I tone down the pink and still maintain a light stain color?

First, test your surface to get a sense for the color present in the wood. To do this, wipe the surface down with mineral spirits (if you are expecting to use an oil finish) or plain water (if you are expecting to use a water based finish). See the following GF video demonstration for a better understanding of this process.

Next, apply product. Here are two recipes for a lightly stained look:

OIL BASED Finish: Create a 50/50 mix of Nutmeg Gel Stain and Gel Satin Top Coat for a natural tone. Seal your surface with 2-3 coats of oil based top coat.

WATER BASED Finish: Create a 50/50 mix of Light Brown Dye Stain and High Performance Top Coat or Enduro-Var Top Coat. Seal your surface with 2-3 coats of water based top coat. Remember: High Performance dries clear but Enduro-Var ambers.

Test your mixture in a hidden area of your project before proceeding with the entire project.

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What is toning finishes?

General Finishes Dye Stain

Toning is the process of adding colorant, either dye or pigmented stain into a top coat and then applying over an entire piece in order to subtly deepen the color. All of our stains can be used: Stock base colors of RTM, Water-Based Wood Stains or Dye stains. If you are new to toning, we recommend starting with Dyes stains, which can be easier to use as they only contain dyes and no pigments. 

All of General Finishes water-based topcoats with the exception of Conversion Vanish can be tinted to create lightly colored finishes for toning.  It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO TEST to your satisfaction before application to your entire project. 

There are limits anytime you add pigments or dyes to water-based topcoats. Toning should always be done in small increments to achieve the desired color. If you are starting with a light honey tone door and you want to create an Espresso color this will take multiple coats of color including base coat of stain followed by several toning coats. It is impossible to achieve a radical color change with just 1 coat of toner.

A good rule to follow when toning is starting with a minimal amount of stain or dye, 5-10% by volume. Some colors work better than others. Normally 1-2 ounces or stain per quart of clear topcoat is sufficient to create a toner. Always test color first and strain material through a fine mesh filter to remove any undissolved particle of pigment. Once you have achieved the desired color tone apply a clear topcoat to lock in the color. Toner made with water based wood stain should be used at point of use only. Do not store for extended periods of time. 


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Can I adjust the color of my Dye Stain?

Yes, there are a couple of ways. Dye Stain Reducer is the clear base that we use when manufacturing General Finishes Dye Stains. The Reducer is made first, then the dye color is added.

It is easy to make your own custom color Dye Stain by adding in 10% increments of Dye Stain color to Reducer until you achieve the color you want. It is not possible to mix too much of our Dye Stain and Reducer together.

Additionally, General Finishes Water Based Wood Stains can be mixed into the Reducer, which will lighten the color and thin the viscosity so it will penetrate deeper into the wood.

You can also mix other manufacturers dyes such as TransTint dye concentrate, sold in many wood working stores.

Note: We do NOT RECOMMEND using water to lighten dye stain. Reducer has ingredients to help keep color molecules dispersed evenly in the can.

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