Woodstaining Objects


GOLDEN Product List for Woodstaining Techniques:

  • Airbrush Medium
  • Airbrush Transparent Extender
  • High Flow Acrylics
  • Fluid Acrylics
  • Acrylic Glazing Liquid (Gloss)


This Information Sheet outlines the GOLDEN products and process involved for staining wood. This process facilitates the use of transparent pigments and products that allow the wood grain to show through the products, as opposed to traditional uses of water-based paints to completely cover the wood. The array of lightfast pigments used by GOLDEN allows for a variety of color blends - producing beautiful stains on wooden objects - ranging from traditional colors in dye based stains to stronger and more vibrant hues.

This method is possible though a series of steps, beginning with conditioning the wood, sanding, then applying the stains and finally top-coating for durability dependent upon the functional needs of the object.


After properly sanding the wood, it should be conditioned to accept the water-based stain. Conditioning evens the absorbency, resulting in a more uniform stain. Grain-raising is only done once, and although it can be accomplished with just water, water alone does not help to even out the porosity of the wood. Traditionally, conditioning is achieved with a "spit coat"of dilute shellac or lacquer, and because these products do not contain water they do not raise the grain. When using waterborne stains, it"s best to accomplish conditioning and grain-raising in one step.

GOLDEN Airbrush Medium or Airbrush Transparent Extender can be brush-applied or wiped on with a lint free cloth to condition the wood. Airbrush Medium dries slower (3 to 5 hours) and is therefore better for larger projects or more absorbent woods. Airbrush Transparent Extender is useful for harder woods and smaller projects because it dries at a faster pace (about 1 hour). Because these products are conditioning as well as raising the grain, it is best to not force dry these coatings. Accelerating the curing process may not allow the wood grain to fully rise, which in turn can result in stain-related problems.


Once the pre-stain conditioning coating has dried, the raised wood grain needs to be sanded off. It"s important to use fine sandpapers (200 grit or finer) and to not sand too aggressively because it may expose un-conditioned wood. After lightly sanding, wipe the surface down with a tack cloth or lightly dampened cloth or sponge to remove sanding dust.


Pre-made, commercial wood stains are limited in both color range and strength. While they can be diluted to create weaker stains, they can"t be made stronger without the use of universal tints.

GOLDEN High Flow Acrylics, and Fluid Acrylics can be used as pigmented stains. Fluid Acrylics need to be blended with the GOLDEN Airbrush Medium to be used for staining. Start at equal parts of Fluid Acrylic to Airbrush Medium, and increase medium additions as needed to alter open time or pigment load. This will produce thin watery stains that may be applied like any other stain mixture.

Product Conditioning Fast Drying Staining Slow Drying Staining Gel Staining
Airbrush Medium
(AB Medium)
Best for porous woods & large projects   Use to extend colors as required Increases working time. Mix 1:1 with AGL, then with colors as needed
Airbrush Transparent Extender (AB Trans Extender) Best for hardwoods & small projects Use to extend colors as required    
High Flow Acrylics   Use as is or extended with AB Trans. Extender Use as is or extended with AB Medium  
Fluid Acrylics   Must be thinned with AB Trans. Extender min. of 1:1 Must be thinned with AB Medium min. of 1:1  

GOLDEN Acrylic Glazing Liquid can be added to stain mixtures to create a "gelstain". This can be useful for easier dimensional or vertical applications and results in less penetration into the wood because of its thickness. The Acrylic Glazing Liquid (AGL) can be used with the High Flow Acrylics without any other medium. However, the suggested starting point is to pre-blend the AGL with the Airbrush Medium at a 1:1 ratio, and then blend this mixture as needed with either theHigh Flow Acrylics, or Fluid Acrylics. It"s important to experiment with different ratios to create the desired gel stain body.

High Flow Acrylics are ready to use, however they are strongly pigmented and may need to be diluted prior to use as stains.High Flow Acrylics with "Transparent" in their namemay be more successful for beginning experimentsas they have a much lower level of pigment. High Flow Acrylics may be extended by adding Airbrush Medium or Airbrush Transparent Extender, depending on the required working time. Traditional wood staining techniques, such as multiple coats to build strength and depth can be accomplished with the GOLDEN Fluid Acrylics, and High Flow Acrylics, and can be used in whatever combination is required. For more information about color blending, refer to the GOLDEN Color Mixing Guide (call 1-800-959-6543 for a copy).


Once the stains have been allowed to fully dry, the wood is ready to be top-coated. The final coating used should be selected for the requirements of the object. Fine art objects or frames may be able to be coated with GOLDEN Polymer or MSA Varnish, while functional items such as furniture require tougher products such as polyurethane.

Golden has tested a wide range of clear coats over the acrylic stains and has found excellent compatibility with most commonly used sealing coats, including:

  1. Waterborne polyurethane
  2. Solventborne polyurethane
  3. Nitrocellulose lacquers
  4. Shellacs
  5. 2 part urethanes
  6. 2 part epoxy resins

NOTE: Testing should always be done when trying new combinations of products before using on important projects.


The above information is based on research and testing done by Golden Artist Colors, Inc., and is provided as a basis for understanding the potential uses of the products mentioned. Due to the numerous variables in methods, materials and conditions of producing art, Golden Artist Colors, Inc. cannot be sure the product will be right for you. Therefore, we urge product users to test each application to ensure all individual project requirements are met. While we believe the above information is accurate, WE MAKE NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, and we shall in no event be liable for any damages (indirect, consequential, or otherwise) that may occur as a result of a product application.