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Resene Colorwood

Resene Colorwood is an interior wood stain designed to colour timber, while still allowing the natural grain of the timber to show through. It is the perfect way to add colour to timber without losing its natural beauty.

All colours can be intermixed, allowing you to create your own colours.

The finished colour is influenced by the timber colour itself, the denseness of the timber and the length of time the stain is left before the excess is wiped off. Always test Resene Colorwood on a small off-cut of timber to ensure the desired colour is being achieved. Strong colours may be difficult to achieve on hardwood and heart timbers due to lack of penetration. If the selected colour is too strong, reduce with Resene Colorwood Reducing Base.

Resene Colorwood is easy to apply by brush or rag. For best results, wipe excess Resene Colorwood off with a dry, absorbent, lint free cloth, rubbing along the grain. This also ensures maximum adhesion of topcoats.

Overcoating is recommended to ensure the timber is protected and to maximise the longevity of the finish. Resene Colorwood is easily overcoated with Resene Aquaclear, Resene Qristal Polyurethanes or Resene Polythane.

Being waterbased, Resene Colorwood is fast drying with low VOCs and is easily cleaned up in water.

View our Resene Colorwood colour range

Resene Colorwood may also be tinted to all colours from the Exterior stains (Woodsman) colour chart (PDF). Once you have viewed the colours find out more about using Resene Colorwood or view the Resene Colorwood brochure (PDF).

Resene Colorwood

Resene Pitch Black
Resene Pitch Black WD
Resene Crowshead
Resene Crowshead WD
Resene Dark Ebony
Resene Dark Ebony WD
Resene Touch Wood
Resene Touch Wood WD
Resene English Walnut
Resene English Walnut WD
Resene Deep Oak
Resene Deep Oak WD
Resene Bark
Resene Bark WD
Resene Ironbark
Resene Ironbark WD
Resene Mahogany
Resene Mahogany WD
Resene Deep Oak
Resene Dark Oak WD
Resene Meranti
Resene Meranti WD
Resene Matai
Resene Matai WD
Resene Dark Rimu
Resene Dark Rimu WD
Resene Walnut
Resene Walnut WD
Resene Teak
Resene Teak WD
Resene Oregon
Resene Oregon WD
Resene Japanese Maple
Resene Japanese Maple WD
Resene Western Red Cedar
Resene Western Red Cedar WD
Resene Red Beech
Resene Red Beech WD
Resene Cherrywood
Resene Cherrywood WD
Resene Natural on Pine
Resene Natural on Pine WD
Resene Natural - on Cedar
Resene Natural on Cedar
Resene Rock Salt on Pine
Resene Rock Salt on Pine
Resene Rock Salt on Cedar
Resene Rock Salt on Cedar
Resene Apollo Blue
Resene Apollo Blue
Resene Desert Yellow
Resene Desert Yellow
Resene Emerald Green
Resene Emerald Green
Resene Red Pepper
Resene Red Pepper
Resene Deep Purple
Resene Deep Purple
Resene Satin Orange
Resene Satin Orange
Resene Jarrah on jarrah
Resene Jarrah on Jarrah WD

Resene Colorwood Greywash

Resene Colorwood Greywash is available in two standard colours:

Resene Light Greywash
Resene Light Greywash
Resene Mid Greywash
Resene Mid Greywash

You can also apply Resene Colorwood Greywash over tinted Resene Colorwood stain to achieve other Greywash effects. For example:

Resene Colorwood Greywash –
Light Greywash over Resene Crowshead stain

Resene Colorwood Greywash –
Mid Greywash over Resene Crowshead stain

Resene Colorwood Greywash –
Light Greywash over Resene Pitch Black stain

Resene Colorwood Greywash –
Mid Greywash over Resene Pitch Black stain

Resene Colorwood Enhance

Resene Colorwood Enhance Jarrah
Resene Jarrah
Resene Colorwood Enhance Black
Resene Black
Resene Colorwood Enhance Red Brown
Resene Red Brown
Resene Colorwood Enhance White
Resene White
Resene Colorwood Enhance Walnut
Resene Walnut

Colours as close as printing process allows. The final colour and finish will be influenced by the application method and product and will appear different on different timbers – always test your colour on a timber off-cut before starting the main project. Samples are shown on pine unless another timber type is stated.

WD = All colours marked with ‘WD’ are also available for exterior use in Resene Waterborne Woodsman.


Staining a natural wood surface accents and enhances the wood grain. Resene Colorwood is a waterborne interior penetrating wood stain that is ideal for rejuvenating and enhancing timber and composite boards including Strandboard, plywood, MDF as well as most flooring. It is sometimes known as a wiping stain or dye.

Resene Colorwood is usually overcoated with Resene Aquaclear, Resene Qristal Clear polyurethane or Resene Qristal ClearFloor. Rough sawn interior timber, such as beams, can be stained with Resene Colorwoodwithout clear finishing or polyurethaning.

Selecting colour

The first task when selecting a wood stain colour is to identify the type of timber you will be staining. The timber's natural colour will affect the final finish and different varieties and grades of wood will absorb the stain differently, so it is important that you consider this when selecting your colour.Higher density timber and hardwoods will not absorb liquids as readily as softer less dense timber. You may need to select a darker stain or apply two coats to get your desired colour.

Stains applied to light timber (or composite boards notably plywood) will appear much stronger and brighter in colour than stains applied to dark wood. Dark stains applied to a dark timber may also cause a darker result than anticipated. Strong primary colours are best applied to light timbers such as pine or plywood.

The stain colours can be intermixed or diluted. Resene Colorwood Reducing Base may be used to soften or stretch a full strength colour. If you like a particular colour but it is just too intense, add Resene Colorwood Reducing Base, which will soften the hue without losing the character and body of the undiluted stain. Resene Colorwood Reducing Base is also perfect on dark timbers to enhance the grain and appearance of the timber, without making the timber appear even darker. Resene Colorwood Enhance can be added to waterborne polyurethanes including Resene Aquaclear to add greater depth of colour to the stain.

The stain colour is affected by the gloss level of the product you choose to topcoat your stain. A clear gloss polyurethane, such as Resene Qristal Poly-Gloss, will make the colour appear more vibrant than a clear flat polyurethane, such as Resene Qristal Poly-Flat. Stains left uncoated have no resistance to marks such as watermarks or coffee cup stains.

The samples on this chart are indicators of the final colour. As with any finishing project - regardless of the products you're using - always go through the entire finishing process using scraps from your project before you commit to a colour and final topcoat finish. This is particularly important when you experiment with tinting topcoats and mixing Resene Colorwood colours. Take a scrap piece from your project, sand it completely, apply Resene Colorwood, allow to dry thoroughly, and apply the topcoat of your choice. Once dry, inspect the final result, which will be a good representation of what your finished project will look like. Remember that both sanding and your choice of topcoat will affect the finished look of your project. Standard Resene Colorwood colours are available in Resene testpots and can be viewed on the Resene woodcare stand at Resene ColorShops and selected resellers.

Application notes

  1. You will need to sand new timber to remove any surface imperfections. As Resene Colorwood is transparent any residual marks or blemishes on the surface will be apparent in the finished job. Remember to always sand with the grain of the timber.

  2. Apply the Resene Colorwood stain liberally before laying off to ensure even coverage is achieved. Carefully plan the staining sequence. It is important that the Resene Colorwood stain remains wet before wiping. The longer the stain is left on the surface, the deeper the colour will be.

  3. Wipe the surface using a clean cloth to remove excess stain and ensure the stain is evenly applied to the timber. Have additional cloths ready to replace saturated cloths as you progress. This is very important for large areas especially floors and sheets of plywood and MDF.
  4. Apply Resene Aquaclear or Resene Qristal Clear polyurethane in your desired gloss level. For flooring apply Resene Qristal ClearFloor. For more application advice, see the Resene project sheets and videos for Applying Colorwood, Clear Finishes and Qristal ClearFloor.

Applying Resene Colorwood - step 2
Step two

Applying Resene Colorwood - step 3
Step three

Applying Resene Colorwood - step 4
Step four

MDF and Particle Board(s)

Composite boards - particularly Strandboard can be enhanced by applying Resene Colorwood. They can be very absorbent, taking up the Resene Colorwood stain too quickly and making it hard to apply and achieve an even finish.

Dampening the surface by spraying a light mist of clean water onto the surface will reduce the absorbency of the board.

The lambswool deck pad can also be used to apply the Resene Colorwoodstain and is ideal for flooring.

Before staining, we recommend the following surface preparation:

  • Ensure the timber is thoroughly dry.
  • If the surface has been previously varnished/painted it is important that this has been thoroughly stripped and any traces of stripper and/or old coating have been removed before staining. Any remaining coating will cause inconsistencies.
  • The substrate should be lightly sanded with p240 – p400 wet and dry sandpaper to ensure an even acceptance of the stain. Always sand in the direction of the grain because sanding causes tiny grooves in the wood. The stain will be absorbed into these grooves and will highlight their appearance.
  • Remove all sanding dusts with a soft dust brush, tack cloth or lintfree cloth. Check the timber carefully before proceeding because any imperfection in the wood will be highlighted by the stain.
  • Stir the contents thoroughly before and during use. If the pigment begins to settle, you will get a lighter colour at the start and a darker colour as you get closer to the bottom of the container.

Application (one colour):

  • On flat areas, Resene Colorwood is best applied in smooth, long, thin even coats with a speedbrush, keeping a wet edge to prevent lap marks
  • Rinse the speedbrush in water prior to use to remove any loose fibres
  • Dry the speedbrush thoroughly before applying the stain
  • Do not allow puddles or runs to form as they will dry darker. Wipe off the excess and allow it to thoroughly dry before application of subsequent coats
  • If you need to apply additional coats of stain, be sure to do so before sealing the wood
  • If you do not have a speedbrush, Colorwood can be successfully applied by brush
  • The stain may also be applied with a soft and clean lint-free cloth in a thin and even coat
  • Wipe off the excess and allow it to thoroughly dry before application of subsequent coats
  • If you need to apply additional coats of stain, be sure to do so before sealing the wood
  • The stain should be applied along the grain of the timber, or if applying to MDF it should be applied in one direction as evenly as possible. This direction could be altered in subsequent coats on random pattern timbers
  • Ensure particle board is sealed prior to the application of polyurethane topcoats to avoid damage to the particle board surface
  • Any areas of thick or patchy stain should be wiped off before the product dries with a soft lint-free cloth.
    The colour will get stronger with each subsequent coat or the longer you leave the stain before wiping off the excess
  • Application of too many coats will lessen the transparency of the stain. If a darker colour is required, get a darker colour tinted, rather than trying to apply too many coats of a lighter colour
  • Cleanup after using Colorwood is as easy as its application. Most colours will wash off using just soap and water, providing the stain has not cured

Application (two tone effects):

  • Colorwood stains can be layered to produce exciting and unique effects
  • First apply a base colour of Colorwood stain and wipe off any excess. Immediately feather on a second colour and wipe down carefully
  • Allow the stain to dry completely and then apply your protective topcoat
  • You can achieve subtle yet exciting colours using this technique
  • If you're looking for a more dramatic multi-tone effect, let each colour dry before applying the second or third colour
  • Remember to try it on an offcut of timber first
  • Here's a few ideas to help you create your own two tone effects
  • Apply the first coat as per one colour instructions. Usually only one coat is necessary, two if desired
  • Allow to thoroughly dry before the application of the second coat

Depending on the desired finish the second coat can be applied in a number of ways:

Suggestion 1:

  • Apply the second colour in a light patchy manner with the edge of the speedbrush along the grain for a patchy aged look
  • Allow to thoroughly dry and lightly sand in a random manner along the grain using p400 wet and dry sandpaper (dry)

Suggestion 2:

  • Apply the second colour in the manner of the first coat, thinly and evenly
  • This will allow the base colour to show through and the two colours will combine to create a unique, complex colour
  • This works well with two colours close to each other – e.g. Red with orange topcoat, pink with orange topcoat, red with pink topcoat, blue with green topcoat, purple with aubergine topcoat
  • The effect can also be enhanced by slightly thinning the topcoat by wetting the speedbrush first (shake off excess water)

Suggestion 3:

  • Apply the second colour in the manner of the first coat. Allow to dry
  • Very lightly sand through the top layer to reveal the colour of the base layer in a random manner along the grain with p400 wet and dry sandpaper (dry)
  • This will give a distressed look, and in some places you may like to sand right back to reveal some unstained timber

Suggestion 4:

  • Apply second colour in a thick coat
  • While still wet, drag off some of the topcoat with the plastic edge of the speedbrush, or a blunt instrument
  • Drag the top layer off in a random grain effect and allow to dry
  • This process may require a second application of the topcoat in a similar manner. Again, drag off some of the top layer in a random grain like manner
  • This method works particularly well with a black base and coloured topcoat, such as red or any two contrasting colours.

Many effects can be produced using Resene Colorwood

Some additional ideas for two tone effects you may like to experiment with are:

  • Limed white over any limed colour
  • Limed white over any bright colour
  • Light wood colour over darker wood colour
  • The options are endless so try out our suggestions or invent your own using Resene Colorwood testpots.

Two popular traditional stained effects you may wish to try are distressing and pickling:

  • Distressing – Create vintage, timeworn looks on new furniture using the Distressing technique. Apply Colorwood and allow to completely dry. Remove the stain from selected areas, usually edges and corners, using p180 to p220 grit sandpaper. This allows the wood to show through the stain to simulate the wear and tear that normally happens from knocks and bumps and excess handling. Then seal the entire surface with three coats of polyurethane.

  • Pickling – To pickle a surface, simply apply one of the limed Waterborne Colorwood stains. If desired, apply a second coat of Waterborne Colorwood Rock Salt or Egg White and wipe off the excess leaving touches of white or cream limed stain behind to softer the base colour. The look you want to achieve is a soft subtle colour. Let the wood dry and then seal the entire surface with three coats of polyurethane.

Application of clear topcoats:

Leave Resene Colorwood to dry for at least 24 hours before overcoating with Resene Qristal Polyurethanes and 48 hours if overcoating with Resene Aquaclear or Resene Polythane. Resene Polythane is the recommended topcoat for floors for maximum durability.

Please note that once a polyurethane sealer has dried the wood surface is sealed and will not absorb any more stain.

Resene Woodcare range

The Resene Woodcare range has everything you need for interior and exterior staining and clear finishing projects. The Resene Woodcare stand showcases the range of finishes and colours and further information is also available on the Resene Exterior Woodcare colour chart and the Resene website. View the how to videos online.

  Resene Colorwood Resene
Colorwood Enhance
Colorwood Whitewash
Resene Aquaclear
- Gloss, Semi-Gloss, Satin
Qristal Clear - PolyFlat, PolySatin, PolyGloss
Resene Qristal Clear
HD PolySatin
Resene Polythane
Timber walls Yes* Yes** Yes Yes     Yes Yes  
Veneers Yes* Yes** Yes Yes     Yes Yes  
Timber furniture, decks Yes* Yes** Yes Yes     Yes Yes  
Trims and joinery Yes* Yes** Yes Yes     Yes Yes  
Doors Yes* Yes** Yes Yes     Yes Yes  
Timber flooring Yes* Yes** Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cork flooring Yes* Yes** Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Work floors - heavy duty finish Yes*   Yes     Yes     Yes
Wooden children's toys Yes* Yes** Yes Yes Yes        

Please note: If you cannot see the full chart, please scroll to the right.

* Must be overcoated
** Mixed into appropriate clear waterborne timber finish

Resene Aquaclear

Resene Aquaclear

Resene Aquaclear is a waterborne varnish, it is fast drying and easy to use. It will not yellow with age (unlike most solventborne varnishes) so is ideal for light coloured timber and composite boards. Available in satin, semi-gloss and gloss finishes.

Resene Qristal Polyurethane

Resene Qristal Polyurethanes

Resene Qristal Polyurethanes are popular solventborne varnishes. They add depth and vibrancy to hardwoods and dark timbers. Available in Resene Qristal Poly-Gloss: a high gloss (wet look) finish that will give added intensity to the colour; Resene Qristal Poly-Satin: a medium vibrancy, more natural finish with less effect on the stain colour and Resene Qristal Clear Poly-Flat: a natural flat finish that mimics a waxed surface and is the ideal finish for recycled, aged or imperfect timbers. Where a harder wearing surface is required, use Resene Polythane. Resene Qristal Clear Poly-Flat has a natural finish that mimics a waxed surface. The Resene Qristal Clear polyurethanes are ideal for use over Resene Danska Teak Oil.

Resene Qristal ClearFloor

Resene Qristal ClearFloor

Resene Qristal ClearFloor is a premium floor finish available in a two pack product (2K) in satin and gloss and a single pack (1K) in satin. It is waterborne, durable and hardwearing. Resene Qristal ClearFloor 1K is designed for general flooring use with low to medium foot traffic and Resene Qristal ClearFloor 2K is recommended for commercial and high traffic areas. It has minimal odour compared to traditional flooring finishes.

Resene Polythane

Resene Polythane

Resene Polythane is a single pack moisture cured polyurethane clear gloss finish for floors and hardwearing surfaces. It is recommended as a topcoat on dark or timber coloured stains as it may yellow over time, which can enhance timber coloured stains.

Resene Danska Teak Oil

Resene Danska Teak Oil

Resene Danska Teak Oil is a traditional highly refined oil designed to enhance the grain of hardwoods including teak, rimu and beech. Typically either brush applied or wiped on with a clean cloth, it needs to be overcoated and looks best when used under Resene Qristal Clear polyurethanes.

Resene Colorwood Whitewash

Resene Colorwood Whitewash

Resene Colorwood Whitewash isn’t absorbed into timber or composite board like Resene Colorwood but as the name implies is a wash of white over uncoated timber and composite boards, such as particle board – lightening and enhancing the surface. It can be applied over aged, yellowed polyurethanes and varnishes for a contemporary whitewashed look, without the need to strip the existing polyurethane coating. Resene Colorwood Whitewash may be overcoated with Resene Aquaclear or Resene Qristal ClearFloor and is ideal for achieving blonded, French-wash or whitewashed effects. It is best applied by brush or speedbrush.

Resene Whitewash on pine
Whtiewash™ on Pine

Resene Colorwood Whitewash

Resene Colorwood Greywash

Resene Colorwood Greywash is a greyed off version of Resene Colorwood Whitewash and can be used to create a greywashed effect over interior timber. Available in two standard colours, it can also be applied over tinted Resene Colorwood stain for a wider range of greywash effects.

Resene Whitewash on pine
Light Greywash™ on Pine / Mid Greywash™ on Pine

Resene Colorwood Enhance

Resene Colorwood Enhance

Resene Colorwood Enhance is designed to be added to waterborne clears - Resene Aquaclear and Resene Qristal ClearFloor 1K - and will subtly colour the clear finish. It is available in three timber tones as well as black and white and is best applied by brush or speedbrush, layering the colour up in multiple coats. Resene Colorwood Enhance helps even out the appearance of similarly toned stains, deepening the underlying colour and helping eliminate any patchiness. It is ideal for restoring the colour of timber without the need to strip previously applied clear finishes.

Resene Colorwood Enhance cannot be used with solventborne clears.

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Colours shown on this website are a representation only. Please refer to the actual paint or product sample. Resene colour charts, testpots and samples are available for ordering online.   See measurements/conversions for more details on how electronic colour values are achieved.

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