Welcome to round two of my most well researched project ever! The first part of this experiment covered paper options for flooring (read that post HERE if you missed it), this one is all about stain. Oil based vs. water based, different colors, etc. Everyone has a different opinion on oil based and water based products, I personally like everything to be water based except stain. Water based stuff is easier to use and easier to clean up, plus it doesn’t yellow like oil-based products. Oil based products (like paint and poly) may hold up better in the long run, but I haven’t found the difference to be worth the hassle. No one wants to mess with paint thinner when it comes to clean up, it’s just a fact. Stain though is different though. I like oil-based stain, it’s easy to work with and it goes on smooth. Water based stain, just…sucks, in my opinion. I’ve never liked it, it goes on weird and streaky and doesn’t give the depth that oil based stain does. For this experiment though I was really hoping I would love the water based stains on paper, because covering your floor in oil based stain or sealer produces some incredibly noxious fumes (not tub painting noxious, but still).
Anyway, enough fluff…lets jump right into the thrilling adventure that is staining paper.
So for this part of the experiment I took the plywood boards I papered and divided them up into quarters, trying a different stain on each section. I used the exact same stain on each section of the three boards. I tried to explain this to my husband when he came home from work and found me surrounded by stain cans, dirty rags, and colored paper…but he looked confused the entire time. Like there was no method to my madness or something. So I made you a chart….
The left side of each board is oil based stains and the right is water based, the top are browns and the bottom are grays. Easy enough, right?
So here we go, lets start with the builders paper.
- Oil-based Provincial – this is the stain and paper combination I used in my boy’s room and it is still one of my favorites.
- Water-based Toffee – this is the only water based stain that looks even halfway decent on all my boards. I used a brush to apply it and its a bit streaky, but I’d bet if you used lambs wool or a deck pad it would look nice and even.
- Oil-based Sunbleached – this went on really well and I have no complaints, except that I just don’t think it looks good. The color is weird and foggy.
- Water-based Slate – I applied this with a rag and it looks bad, the color is weird and it’s really uneven. Dark brown paper + gray stain is a big fat FAIL.
Here is a closer look at the oil based stains –
You see how the Provincial has that oily sheen on some of it? It did that when I put down my boys floor too…I’m guessing that’s why the first layer of poly I applied was cloudy in places. I feel like I applied the stain really evenly, so I’m not sure what caused it.
Here are the water based stains…you can see the brush marks on the top one but it’s not bad.
Now for the Kraft paper. I had really high hopes for this one because it was my favorite to work with during the gluing process. Unfortunately it let me down, big time.
- Oil-based Provincial – I’m not sure what happened here, but it bleed like crazy. This is the only section on all the boards I had problems with this.
- Water-based Toffee – holy brush marks. No, just no.
- Oil-based Sunbleached – this is the best section on the whole board, but that’s not saying much. For some reason adding stain to the Kraft paper doesn’t bring out the wrinkles, and the wrinkles are a huge part of why I like this look.
- Water-based Slate – holy rag swirls. Water based stain and Kraft paper definitely don’t mix.
Here is a closer look at the oil sections –
and the terrible water sections –
Just as a reminder, here is how the Kraft paper look natural. I think plain Kraft paper + poly is the winner here.
Lastly we have the white art paper.
- Oil-based Provincial – I’m not sure how I feel about this one. The stain went on really well, no lines, didn’t bleed. It’s brown without being too dark and it definitely has lots of interesting contrast. Maybe too much? I can’t decide.
- Water-based Toffee- I applied this with a brush and it is really streaky and kinda pink. This is a no-go.
- Oil-based Sunbleached – this is my absolute favorite out of everything. The grey stain brought out the wrinkles and edges in the white paper beautifully, and it’s light and subtle without being boring. Gray is the “it” neutral right now too (not in my house, but in other cooler houses) and as soon as I started applying it I got excited. This is the one people, the winning combination.
- Water-based Slate – once again the water based stain didn’t blend. Fail.
Here is a closer look at the oil stains –
Here they are after a second coat of stain. The brown looks awkward here, but in real life it looks much more even and warm. I like it a lot after the second coat, actually (not as much as the gray though).
And here is the water based stains….
So there you have, more than you ever wanted to know about stain on paper. The white paper is super versatile, there are a ton of lighter oil based stains (and colored stains) I think would look great (plus the paper itself comes in 23 different colors). The Kraft paper looks best natural (in my opinion), and the builder paper looks good in brown stains, and I think either oil or water would work.
Here’s the line-up one more time…
Next week will be part three, sealer options. I haven’t actually started this part of the experiment yet – there are just so many options and I’m a bit overwhelmed. Also, none of them are cheap (compared to stain and paper at least) so I’m procrastinating. I’m really hoping I can get some definitive answers though, since this is the part I’m having trouble with on my floor.
So tell me…has anyone here tried Kraft paper and stained it? How did it turn out? I know there are some success stories out there.