What's the difference?
Pigmented Stains: These stains color the wood by depositing fine particles of color solids on the wood's surface. The particles, or pigments, aren't absorbed but rather adhere to the wood because the stains include a "binder" – typically a thinned clear wood finish with either an oil or a water base.
Dyes: The particles of color in dyes are much, much smaller than in pigmented stains and are typically dissolved in water or alcohol. Because the color molecules are so small, they are absorbed by the wood and produce a more uniform color, even in tight-grained woods. As a result, they can be used to even out color differences within and between boards. Dyes of different colors can be mixed to achieve the desired tone. Dyes are available in powder form and as a liquid concentrate.
Gel Stains: These are pigmented stains formulated to be much thicker. They often are wiped on and off, allowing the user to control the amount of stain left on the wood. Because they sit on top of the wood and the thickness can be controlled, they can be used to blend differences in wood color.
Gel Stains are heavy-bodied and do not penetrate as deeply into the wood as liquid oil-based stains do, providing the deepest, richest colors of any oil based stain available.
Water Based Stain
Water Based Wood Stains have all the advantages of oil based stains: they spread easily, can be repaired, blend effortlessly and have plenty of open time. The thicker formula allows controlled penetration, which will reduce blotching on softer woods such as Aspen, Pine and Maple.
Oil Based Stain
Oil-Based Wood Stains are easy to apply, and feature controlled penetration for rich, even tone. Choose from a wide selection of stain colors, all of which work great for interior surfaces such as cabinets, floors, paneling, antiques, doors, wood trim and furniture.
Concentrated dye solution makes it easy to apply beautiful color to your project. All dye colors are intermixable allowing you to create custom shades. These dyes are ideal for tinting woodworking glues, touch up and repair work, or adjusting the color of pre-mixed stains.