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How do I match this "driftwood" color?

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Forum topic by Adam D posted 03-30-2015 05:20 PM 2564 views 2 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Adam D

103 posts in 1741 days


03-30-2015 05:20 PM

Topic tags/keywords: wash ebonizing grey stain dye

I’m trying to make red oak look like this:

I’ve been testing on a bunch of scrap, and can’t even get close.
  • I tried ebonizing with steel-wool and vinegar, but it came out bluish-purple instead of grey.
  • I tried some “driftwood” stain, but it only colored the pores, leaving most of the surface brown still.
  • I emailed homesteadfinishingproducts.com about their grey Transfast dye, and they said “Black dyes most of the time do not produce good greys because they have funny undertones when diluted like purple, red and green. Our grey doesn’t have these as long as you use a really light wood like birch or maple. It doesn’t work on yellowy woods like pine and woods like cherry, walnut, etc.”
  • I think paint would hide the grain, right? We can’t have that!

Do you guys have any suggestions on how to make my red oak look grey?

-- Adam, Rochester NY


17 replies so far

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

4244 posts in 1666 days


#1 posted 03-30-2015 05:34 PM

Back in the 70’s we built a house on the water, and my father wanted the back deck facing the water to look like driftwood… I was working on the construction crew building the house at the time. What they wound up doing was using some kind of special stain/treatment that, over the period of about 3 months or so, bleached out and made the wood look just like driftwood (in color only). It didn’t look like it was doing anything when it first went on, but sure enough, over the next few months it worked it’s magic. It might have required a couple of treatments – it’s been a long time and I don’t remember exactly. Have no idea what it was called, but I know it exists – or did. It was done on regular building grade treated pine, but I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work on other species. Hopefully, someone familiar with the stuff will come along and give you a brand name or better idea of what it was.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View pjones46's profile

pjones46

986 posts in 2110 days


#2 posted 03-30-2015 05:36 PM

On bare wood, I have had success by thinning oil based paints down and using them like wash coat.

-- Respectfully, Paul

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bondogaposis

4036 posts in 1818 days


#3 posted 03-30-2015 06:14 PM

Try thinning gray milk paint.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View CharlesNeil's profile

CharlesNeil

1610 posts in 3337 days


#4 posted 03-30-2015 07:12 PM

Keep it simple., I wrote a color recipe book and spent a good bit of time researching the greys .

I think if you call W D Lockwood , who make dyes , they are in Brooklyn NY , and tell them you want to order some

“Reactive Grey” and “Pearl Grey ” you will get what you want , I dont have the number of the dyes , and they are not listed in their normal colors, thus the phone call… The Reactive Grey I think is pretty much dead on, but you will have to experiment on how much you dilute it , you want the Water based one, I mixed 1 oz of dye powder to 1 pint of water , you can buy the dye by the oz to test if you wish.

The nice thing is you can control the color by dilution, and it will color the maple , yellow pine , oak or whatever, because its a dye, you can do several coats, or whatever you need. When it dries it will look lighter and terrible, the top coat will bring it out, .. If you need the numbers PM me , and I will get them , I’m not at my shop at the moment.

What it looks like wet wil be what it will look like when topcoated

By far this proved to be the easiest and best color , to get weathered greys,.I actually had old weathered barn wood, in both yellow pine and oak, and the reactive as mixed above was perfect .

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Adam D

103 posts in 1741 days


#5 posted 03-31-2015 06:06 PM

Thanks guys.

@CharlesNeil, I’ll order some dye and report back with what I think.

@pjones46, “wash coat” keeps coming up in my searches–what the heck is it?

@bondogaposis, I’ll try that too! thanks.

-- Adam, Rochester NY

View barada83's profile

barada83

76 posts in 653 days


#6 posted 03-31-2015 06:41 PM

I came across this a bit ago and thought it was interesting. Apparently fuming oak does strange things to it because of the tannins present. This company has some products that seem to do that although with different colors than what ammonia fuming would do. http://www.monocoat.us/Fumed/

-- Mike

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TimberMagic

114 posts in 646 days


#7 posted 03-31-2015 06:58 PM



On bare wood, I have had success by thinning oil based paints down and using them like wash coat.

- pjones46

Dittos on that. My son-in-law is a general contractor and had a lady that wanted oak floors to look somewhat gray, with just a hint of purple. They used thinned paint. I was skeptical until I saw them. They looked really nice, with grain showing thru since the paint was thinned.

-- Lee

View Adam D's profile

Adam D

103 posts in 1741 days


#8 posted 03-31-2015 07:21 PM

Is a “wash coat” just thinned paint? Do I apply it like paint and let it dry, or do I wipe it off like stain?

-- Adam, Rochester NY

View pjones46's profile

pjones46

986 posts in 2110 days


#9 posted 03-31-2015 07:23 PM


Thanks guys.

@CharlesNeil, I ll order some dye and report back with what I think.

@pjones46, “wash coat” keeps coming up in my searches–what the heck is it?

@bondogaposis, I ll try that too! thanks.

- Adam D

Adam,
You thin down the paint so it is like a transparent stain and then apply as you would do with a transparent stain wiping off the excess. The exact thinning to obtain the correct viscosity is somewhat speculative and use scrap wood to get the right look. Basically you are making your own colored transparent stain using a paint of the correct or close color.

I normally use oil based paint so as not to raise the grain where if you use waterborne/latex paints it will raise the grain.

pj

-- Respectfully, Paul

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pjones46

986 posts in 2110 days


#10 posted 04-01-2015 09:56 PM

Mike,

Just noticed your post above. Looks really interesting, thanks for the tip. I am going to call them and see if I can purchase some samples. Very cool no fumes. Wonder if it is acetic acid based?

Paul

-- Respectfully, Paul

View ScottKaye's profile

ScottKaye

472 posts in 1420 days


#11 posted 04-14-2015 10:29 PM

which way did you go, as in who’s advice worked for you?

-- "Nothing happens until you build it"

View Adam D's profile

Adam D

103 posts in 1741 days


#12 posted 04-14-2015 10:43 PM

I tried thinning black latex based paint, and it colored the grain nicely, but left too much brown. I also tried baking soda and water, and it came out faintly green, and bleach didn’t do hardly anything at all. The fuming product was too expensive–I couldn’t find it in any quantity smaller than a gallon.

The W D Lockwood dye came in a couple days ago, and was planning to give it a shot tonight. If that doesn’t work, I’ll see if I can find milk paint somewhere.

-- Adam, Rochester NY

View ScottKaye's profile

ScottKaye

472 posts in 1420 days


#13 posted 04-14-2015 10:57 PM

I have seen the JD dye and if Charles says “this is the way to do it” then I would listen! When it comes to finishing, not many can top his expertise or experience. Remember though, you will have to play around a bit with figuring out how much of part a to mix with part b and the total quantity of water needed. Good luck with it.. and report back your findings!

-- "Nothing happens until you build it"

View pjones46's profile

pjones46

986 posts in 2110 days


#14 posted 04-14-2015 11:45 PM

I would have gone to a paint store, picked out a gray that was close to the desired color wanted or a little darker and used that rather than starting with black. Makes no sense, But thats me.

@ScottKaye
Of course you would.

-- Respectfully, Paul

View Adam D's profile

Adam D

103 posts in 1741 days


#15 posted 04-22-2015 01:33 PM

Thinning some black milk paint with equal parts water works great as a final treatment for darkening the grain, making it pop black. However, I’m still really struggling trying to get greys between the grain.

The dye unfortunately doesn’t seem to fill in the large pores on the red oak. This leaves a lot of little “white” lines mixed in with the grey. Not ideal. I’m sure it would have been perfect on another type of wood (I’ve had success with cherry). I bought some black and some white stain and mixed them to get my grey, but this only colored the grain, and left a lot of brown showing through between the grain.

Honestly, the closest attempt I’ve had is to spraypaint the wood grey and then apply the thinned milk paint. If anyone has any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.

-- Adam, Rochester NY

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