Bolgers Wood Dyes

There are four distinct types of wood dye to choose from in the Bolger’s range and all are suitable for a variety of projects. This information sheet will give a guide to the difference between the dye categories and how best to apply and finish them. 

It is important to note that Bolger’s Water Based Wood Dyes are not made using Bolger’s Water-Soluble Powders and Bolger’s Walnut Crystals are not used to make Bolger’s Water Based Walnut Colour Wood Dye. 

Water Based Wood Dye, Water Soluble Powder Wood Dye & Walnut Crystals

Although these are three distinct groups they all use only water as a carrier for the colour and so behave in exactly the same way as regards application and finishing. These dyes are intended for interior use on new wood.

Water Soluble Powder Wood Dyes

These are simply dissolved in warm tap water and make up to 1 litre per 20g bag. Ensure all the powder has dissolved before any application and when more than 1litre is required mix the required number of packs into the correct volume of water, as shading will occur between each mixture. The dry powders can have quite a strong smell and are easily airborne but once added to water their smell diminishes. Store dry powder out of the light in a sealed container/bag. The liquid colour should not be stored for extended periods due to the potential for harmful organisms to develop in normal tap water. Use cooled boiled water if storage is required in order to complete a large project and keep in a sealed container out of the light. For application and finishing see below.

Bolger’s Walnut Crystals

This natural wood stain is a traditional way to colour wood. Non-toxic and odourless the crystals are simply dissolved in tap water to make shades of brown. By adjusting the ratio of Walnut Crystals to water a colour range from straw to almost black can be achieved. Colours can be further tinted with My Colours Concentrated Colour Additive (recommended), Water Soluble Powder Wood Dyes or Water Based Wood Dyes. 

Add the Walnut Crystals to a container large enough to hold the required amount of water for your project then add just enough warm tap water to dissolve the crystals. Now add more water a little at a time until the desired depth of colour is achieved, checking at regular intervals on a spare piece of wood. Ensure enough colour is mixed to complete your project to avoid shading issues. Store dry crystals out of the light in a sealed container/bag. The liquid colour should not be stored for extended periods due to the potential for harmful organisms to develop in normal tap water. Use cooled boiled water if storage is required in order to complete a large project and keep in a sealed container out of the light. For application and finishing see below.

Bolger’s Water Based Wood Dyes

These ready to use, odourless dyes come in a wide range of traditional wood colours, as well as a contemporary colour pallet. When staining a large area which requires more than one bottle of dye it is advisable to decant into a larger container to avoid any shading issues. Unlike the powder and crystal dilutions these dyes can be stored for up to 12months. Keep out of sunlight and preferably store in a dark place.  

Application and finishing of water-based wood dyes.

The slow drying nature of water-based dyes minimises the risk of overlap marks (or tram lines) on large areas and, where overlap marks occur, the surface can be damped down with a little water to reactivate some of the colour and blend in the patches. When staining a large area try and work methodically to avoid applying stain next to an area which has already dried. 

Colours can be applied with a cloth, brush, foam applicator or by spraying; which method you choose will depend on your preference and the size of the area being covered. Remember to wipe off excess dye to avoid a patchy finish. The depth of colour can be increased by applying additional coats. As a general guide 1litre of wood dye will cover approximately 8m square in one coat - this will depend on the method of application and the absorbency of the wood.

All the above dyes can be finished with varnish, wood oil or wax. When using a liquid finish (particularly water-based varnish) you may notice some colour transfer into the finish; this is because the dye surface can become reactivated. Apply the first coat lightly and allow to dry thoroughly to seal the colour. A minimum of two coats of finish should be applied - the more coats you apply the greater the durability will be. 

Bolger’s Artisan Dyes

Made using a quick drying acrylic these dyes are best used for small projects or projects which can be completed in smaller sections e.g. kitchen doors and slatted furniture. Artisan dyes are for use on bare wood and can be used on previously finished wood which has been sanded to remove the old finish; they can also be used outdoors.

Application and finishing of Artisan Dyes

To avoid obscuring the wood grain it is best to apply two light coats of colour rather than one heavy coat, as once this dye is dry it cannot be removed, other than by sanding. When applied sparingly with a cloth these dyes will dry in just a few minutes and a second coat can be applied to build up the depth of colour. When applying with a brush or foam applicator surplus dye should be removed with a clean cloth.

Varnish, wood oils and wax can all be used over Bolger’s Artisan Dyes and an appropriate exterior grade varnish or oil should be selected for exterior use. A minimum of two coats of finish is required on both interior and exterior wood.