Aniline vs Metal Complex Wood Dye Powders

Wood dye powders are economical, easy to ship and allow greater flexibility in use compared to pre-mixed dyes. As you mix the dyes yourself, you can tweak the particular colour (by combining multiple dyes) and the colour intensity (by varying the ratio of powder to solvent). This is particularly useful if you are looking to tint other finishes, as extremely concentrated dyes can be made. But what's the difference between Aniline and Metal Complex dyes? Why would you use water instead of alcohol soluble? Check out the comparison table below to find out.


dartfords Interior Water Based Wood Dye

Alcohol Soluble Aniline

Water Soluble Aniline

Metal Complex

Ready to use?

No, needs dissolving in Shellac and Aniline Thinners

No, needs dissolving in water

No, needs dissolving in either water or Shellac and Aniline Thinners

Sizes available

28g (1oz) packets

28g (1oz) packets

28g (1oz) packets

Makes when mixed...

1 litre Concentrated

2 litres Standard

4 litres Wash Coat

1 litre Concentrated

2 litres Standard

4 litres Wash Coat

1 litre Concentrated

2 litres Standard

4 litres Wash Coat

Coverage

8m² / litre when mixed

8m² / litre when mixed

8m² / litre when mixed

Number of coats

1 minimum

2 minimum

Dissolved in Shellac and Aniline Thinners: 1 minimum

Dissolved in water: 2 minimum

Use on Hardwood?

Yes

Yes, but will require sanding after first coats as it raises the grain

Yes, but water soluble powders will require sanding after first coats as it raises the grain

Use on Softwood?

Yes

Yes

Yes

Grain raising?

No

Yes - sand after first coat to flatten grain, then reapply

Dissolved in Shellac and Aniline Thinners: No

Dissolved in water: Yes - sand after first coat to flatten grain, then reapply

Thinned with...

Shellac and Aniline Thinners

Water

Water, or Shellac and Aniline Thinners

Mixes with...

Once dissolved, can be added to many solvent based finishes including Nitrocellulose up to 5%. Adding a small amount of Acetone can aid mixing.

Water, and once dissolved it can be added to many water based finishes.

Depends on solvent used - see Alcohol/Water Aniline for details.

Use over...

Bare wood

Thixotropic Grain Filler

Other dyes

Bare wood

Thixotropic Grain Filler

Bare wood

Thixotropic Grain Filler

Other dyes, depending on solvent used

Use under...

Shellac Sealer

Cellulose Sealer

Varnishes

Lacquers

Oils

Shellac Sealer

Cellulose Sealer

Varnishes

Lacquers

Oils

Shellac Sealer

Cellulose Sealer

Varnishes

Lacquers

Oils

Cleanup

Shellac and Aniline Thinners

Water

Water or Shellac and Aniline Thinners, depending on solvent used

Application methods

Brush/Sponge/Cloth

Spray

Dip

Brush/Sponge/Cloth

Spray

Dip

Brush/Sponge/Cloth

Spray

Dip

Shelf life

36+ months from purchase in powder form

3 months when mixed depending on type

36+ months from purchase in powder form

6 months when mixed depending on type

36+ months from purchase in powder form

6 months when mixed depending on type

Storage instructions

Powder: Sealed container in a cool, dry, dark place

Mixed dye: Tightly closed container, avoid frost, avoid direct sunlight

Powder: Sealed container in a cool, dry, dark place

Mixed dye: Tightly closed container, avoid frost, avoid direct sunlight

Powder: Sealed container in a cool, dry, dark place

Mixed dye: Tightly closed container, avoid frost, avoid direct sunlight

Lightfastness

Low

High

Highest

Recommended uses

Vintage guitar restoration

Relic guitar new-builds

Antique restoration

All interior wood projects including furniture, crafts, floors and guitars.

All interior wood projects including furniture, crafts, floors and guitars where the highest lightfastness is required.

Strengths

Accurately recreates vintage guitar finishes

Easy to apply

Excellent colour strength and brightness

Highest lightfastness

Mixes with both water and alcohol

Weaknesses

Colour fades quickly

Grain raising, so requires multiple coats and extra sanding

Limited colour range

When dissolved in water it is grain raising, so requires multiple coats and extra sanding


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