A favorite of professional fine furniture makers, Cabot stain is the last word in quality. Cabot has been making wood stains since 1877. The company is now owned by Valspar, and considered part of their lineup, although they still maintain their own website. This is widely considered to be the highest quality wood stain on the market. With a tung oil base for greater penetration, Cabot stains come in a hefty 76 different colors, allowing you to match the stain to just about any application. All the colors are "colorfast" so they will not fade with time.
The name Varathane is usually associated with wood varnishes, but they also make an excellent line of wood stains. Currently owned by Rust-Oleum, the company has been making quality products since 1958. This is a soy oil-based product, available in 25 different contemporary and classic colors. A translucent stain, it has been formulated specifically to bring out the natural beauty of the wood's grain.
This is our first water-based stain so you don't have to worry about harming the environment.. It’s called a "dye stain" by the manufacturer, as it’s intended to operate more like a dye than a stain. While the two may seem the same to you and I, manufacturers of wood dyes claim that their products penetrate deeper into the wood, whereas regular stains stay on the surface. This stain is available in 13 colors, including traditional wood tones, as well as a couple of modern colors.
If you go to your local hardware store or home-improvement center, Mixwax stains are the ones you’re most likely to find. These popular stains have been used on more do-it-yourself projects than any others. They are easy to work with and available as either oil-based or water-based stains and Minwax has an extensive line, offering 50 contemporary wood tones and contemporary decorative colors. The water-based stains are generally mixed at the paint counter, allowing you the opportunity for a little customization.
Made in England, this product is a powdered wood dye, made so that you can add it to your own liquid base. This is a little different product than the others I've listed because while these dyes can be added directly to a clear polyurethane varnish, they are typically added to alcohol, mineral spirits or water. The dye penetrates the wood extremely well, providing a color finish that won't be damaged by scratches and dents. At the same time, it’s a translucent colorant, bringing forth the wood's natural grain and beauty. Different colors of the dye can be mixed together for special effects and colors.