Wood is a very versatile material that comes from nature that it has been part of our civilization since the dawn of time. We use it for cooking, building our homes that provide us with shelter and in most cases, even fruits that we eat to sustain ourselves. It can be said that wood has been a big help in our development as a specie and as a society as well. As we began to improve on our basic skills, we soon found other uses for wood that go beyond the basic use of it. We began to develop a creative flair on everything that we can think about in regards to our creativity. The natural availability of wood as a material made it possible for us to create musical instruments, furnitures and a lot more interesting objects and items that we use on a daily basis.
Throughout the many years of our development, we began to think of other things that we can do to make ordinary things like wooden objects a little bit better that we began to put color on it, quite by mistake. The first type of colors that man learned to apply on wooden objects were colors that were extracted from plant compounds such as fruit stains, sap and bark colorants that were mixed by grounding them using wooden or stone implements. The resulting compound was then applied on wood, originally for aesthetic purposes. Later on, man began to look for other sources of pigments that he can use for coloring wood including grounded minerals such as red clay and even animal blood.
Wood is often colored to make it more attractive and pleasing other than it’s natural state. Most wooden products are wood tone stain to enhance the details of it’s grains, as it gives out more details, rendering it it’s natural beauty. Stain may alter the natural color of the wood one way or the other or may even change the grains tonal value as in light to darker. Stain is a bit hard to apply to wood because of it’s absorption into the wood, which means the more you put it on wood, the more darker it’s tonal value gets. Stain is comparable to water color as the colors get darker as you add more to it after it dries up after every application. Stains do come in various color and hue and choosing a particular hue or a combination of colors can bring about a variation of results that may range from light to nearly transparent or opaque consistencies.
Modern day commercial stains are a combination of various colorants, usually pigments and dyes that are emulsified in a solvent compound. Dyes like these can be dissolved in compatible solvents which brings out the emphasis of the details of the wood grains. The dye penetrates deeply into the areas in between the wood grains that it gives a distinction of the layers of the grain, which causes it to “raise” the grain, as most wood working experts will call it. Since the stain is in a suspended compound, it is necessary for you to frequently mix it in order to properly distribute the dye evenly prior to applying it to wood.
The generalized categories of grains fall upon the type of solvents that were used during their manufacturing process. For most stains, alcohol turns out to be one of the most common solvents used in stains which does not “raise” the wood grains. Other types of stains use water or oil as mediums. The type of solvent used has in one way or the other, have an effect on the variation of results when you apply it on wood. In regards to oil stains, there are 2 variations of stains that bare commonly used which is the penetrating oil stain that has a bleeding effect which sometimes fades and the wiping oil stain which has a more consistent volume when applied to wood giving it an even result in regards to wood absorption.
Stains do not penetrate deep down into the wood’s surface as they penetrate only up to a point in which they can be easily stripped or sanded off exposing the wood’s natural color. To preserve the color of stain on wood, you must apply a “sealer” or a top coat of varnish as to protect it from fading away. Varnishes or top coats are usually resin based and are mostly formulated in polyurethane compounds as in is more durable than most varnishes and leaves a glossy finish. Varnishes are not just for aesthetic reasons but they also provide ample protection from moisture, unwanted stains, scratches, and other damaging compounds that may damage the color of the wood.
Hardwood floors are usually stained with darker hues of dyes that give it’s wooden panels an elegant finish.
Protecting your hardwood floors color is a top coat of finely sprayed polyurethane varnish to protect it from moisture that may damage the wood. Frequent causes of damage to hardwood floors are caused by vacuuming it with the wrong kind of brush attachment. Using the best vacuum for hardwood floors can avoid unwanted scratches on floors.
Today, the most common type of stain used in most wood products is oil stain. Oil stain is usually made from a controlled method of cooking process in which the ingredients are measured carefully as they are slowly mixed into the tank. Pigmentation is then added accordingly to the type of hue or color value that a stain will render on wood. The oils that are usually used in making oil stains come from linseed oil and since oil stains are made with various amounts of solvents which are considered hazardous, many are now making use of water based stains that are more environmentally safe in regards to toxicity and flammability. Water stains penetrate deeper into the wood grains but do not have the ability to deliver the right amount of color into the wood grains compared to that of oil stains.
Water stains may require a few more coats than oil stains do partly because of it’s lack of ability to efficiently facilitate the delivery of coloring pigments into the wood grains which oil based stains can easily do as it’s colorants use alcohol which is more effective as a medium.