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Glues Interfering With Water-Borne Stain on Veneer

Advice on fixing a problem where glued veneer seams telegraph through water-borne stain finishes. June 9, 2007

I have recently begun using water based stain in our finish shop. The variation in colors and consistency of stain is great. However, when going over certain veneer, the seams become apparent. Are there certain types of glue that should or should not be used when laying up veneer, when water-borne stains are being applied? What should I suggest to millwork providers?

Forum Responses
(Veneer Forum)
From contributor D:
Which veneers are the seams visible in?

From the original questioner:
So far, both on birch and maple.

From John Van Brussel, forum technical advisor:
Water based stains and veneers are not a good mix. What do you mean by you see the seams?

From the original questioner:
I'm beginning to find out that waterbased stains and veneers are not a good fit. However, with VOC demands and the push for "green" building in commercial and now residential in the NW, we are going to have to find some way of working together to make it a good mix, or someone is going to suffer in the end. There must be some sort of adhesive that is more water stain friendly? isn't there? What I mean by seams is, where two skins are laid up side by side, the seam between them turns light compared to the wood itself. I'm assuming that is where adhesive has squeezed out and not been totally sanded away.

From John Van Brussel, forum technical advisor:
My guess is the veneers were spliced with a PVA glue which will not accept stain, water based or solvent based. You will need to get faces that have been zigzagged or taped or urea glue spliced.

From contributor J:
One way to prevent any problems would be to spray a seal coat on the panel first, then apply the stain. This process does multiple things: prevents blotching, some barber-poling, etc., and will aid in solving your problem as well.

From contributor T:
Try spraying on a wb dye stain like Fuhr 155, but mist it on very lightly. Test your spray setup on sheets of paper first. You want a real light mist so it dries instantly. Then keep going over your work one coat after another until it is the right darkness. Each coat must dry a minute or so. Don't soak the wood. Your first clear coat should also be light so it dries fast too. Once you get it sealed, you can go heavy. Practice on some sample boards. If it isn't dark enough, just mist on more stain between top coats. I like Fuhr 255 or Chemcraft's acrylic wb. All I use are wb. and I love it. Fast, clean, and beautiful.