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Wood Dye Information

Littlefair’s Water Based Wood Dyes are separated into three ranges formulated for indoor and/or outdoor use. It is important to read the instructions on the product label first before referring to this page for additional information.

If you are unsure about how best to apply our products to your project, we have a helpful tool in the bottom corner of this website which can guide you to some relevant information, as well as an extensive FAQs & Help Centre.

Should you need further assistance please email or call our customer service line on 01254 366130.


In general, this information document relates to finishing softwoods however, all Littlefair’s Water Based Wood Dyes can be applied to hardwoods - for example, the light-coloured dyes create an attractive aged effect on oak surfaces, such as doors and stair parts.

The sample images you may have seen on product labels or online are made from fine sanded and rough sawn pine – it would be impossible for us to illustrate how the dye works on all wood types, which is why 15ml tester pots are available for our entire collection of dyes. Unless we have already communicated, we have no way of knowing how you intend to use our dyes, so please feel free to get in touch as we can suggest the best product and method of application. It is essential that you prepare and finish a test piece as though it is your actual item or project, so you can properly judge the result.

Littlefair’s Vibrant Mix Water Based Wood Dyes are designed for “mixing and matching” to create your own unique colour – however, as all our wood dyes are water based, it is possible to mix any of our dyes together to create endless variations. Alternatively, we offer a Bespoke Colour Service on our website.

The dyes will need to penetrate the wood so your item will need to be free from previous treatments. The colour may appear quite dull when dry but will come to life when finished with Littlefair’s Wax Polishes, Varnishes, Superior Oils or Titan Topcoat. If you intend to apply our products to a floor or another large surface – such as doors and tabletops – please take a look at our Flooring Range.  This includes our Floor Dye Pre-Conditioner, Floor Dyes and Floor Fast Varnishes.

Mr. Littlefair’s Recommendations:

When preparing the wood, I recommend using ‘Wet and Dry’ type abrasive sheets for the final sanding - 120 grit will be suitable in most cases. Avoid using white spirit to clean off the surface dust; the best method is to use a vacuum and a soft dry brush. To help create a fine finish you could raise the grain before the final sanding. Start by dampening the wood with a thin film of water. Once dry, a final sanding will restore the flatness ready for applying the dye.

Filling Holes:

Wood dyes will not penetrate many ready-mixed or solvent based fillers.  The instructions on these products often state they are stainable, which usually means that they can be coated over with a coloured wood stain type of product.  Using this sort of filler will often result in an undesirable appearance of both the filled hole and the surrounding wood.  ‘Ordinary’ white powder interior filler will work best with our dyes - the type you mix with a little cold water.


Careful, thorough preparation will result in a far superior finish.

Ensure your wood is as clean as possible and free from previous finishes. Do not apply the dye to wet surfaces. Well sanded wood will be far more receptive to the dye, and this will form the basis for a good quality finish. When using a wood dye suitable for outdoor use – be aware of the conditions and avoid application if there is a risk of rain or frost.


Before you start, it is vital that you read the mixing information on the product label!

The first coat of dye should be applied liberally along the grain with a good quality brush. Generally, the light colours work best with a single coat.  A light second coat or further coats will deepen the shade when applying the darker dyes.  Work quickly and confidently if you can as this will help you maintain a ‘wet edge’ and avoid overlapping.

Drying times can vary between dyes but will typically be touch dry in 1-2 hours in suitable conditions. If you intend to finish your item with wax polish, varnish, oil or Titan Topcoat - allow the dye to dry for several hours; perhaps overnight when possible.


Once dry, the dyed wood can be finished with a variety of finishing products depending on the location and desired result.

When using our Interior Water Based Wood Dye, our Wax Polishes (alone) will seal and protect the colour and can be buffed to create a natural sheen. Our Extra Strong Varnishes will provide tough protection and can then be waxed to create a durable soft feel. If your project needs to be highly water repellent, then it is recommended to apply our Danish or Worktop Oils before waxing. 

Our Exterior Water Based Wood Dyes will provide excellent outdoor protection when left untreated. However, the colour can be further enhanced by applying our Superior Danish Oil or our Water Based Titan Topcoat. If applying to decking, use our Decking Oil Plus+ for greater protection against wear and tear and maximise the UV protection.

Universal Water Based Wood Dyes are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use and can be finished accordingly.

It’s important to note that the final appearance will be a combination of the natural colour of your wood, the effect of the dye and the finishing product if used. With this in mind - always produce a test piece in the same manner as your project so you can properly judge the result.