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Q & A: Matching Old Stains


Q & A: Matching Old Stains


I have to match an old stain. I’ve come pretty close with a new stain I bought at the hardware store, but it’s not good enough. Is there a way I can tint the stain?


There are several fairly simple ways to alter the color of commercial stain. Probably the easiest is to mix two or more colors of the same type and brand of stain to match what you need. This guarantees that the components and drying times are compatible and consistent.

You can also alter a stain with small amounts of concentrated pigment pastes called “universal tinting colors.” They are compatible with both oilbased and water-based stains and are available from most home stores and many craft stores. Because the universals, called UTCs, are so concentrated, you probably won’t be adding enough to substantially change the drying time of the stain you started with.

If you are certain that the stain is oil based, you can also tint it with artist’s oil colors or Japan colors. Both are available from most craft and art supply stores. Again, the small amounts you are likely to add probably won’t affect the drying time much, but as a rule of thumb, oil colors will typically slow down the drying time while Japan colors will not.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker June 1999, issue #73.

June 1999, issue #73

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