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An In Depth Look at the HULS Color System


I was training a person on matching stain colors and I realized that there were few tools available to help with this task. We have all seen "The Color Wheel" and this does help us get and elementary understanding of how color works, but in the real world of production finishing life gets a little more complicated.

Stains are generally semi- transparent so the color we see is influenced by the color of the wood that it goes on. You can also change the intensity of color of wiping stains by on how long you leave them sit on the wood before you wipe them off. You can layer colors, such as applying a wiping stain over a dye or applying a glaze over a wiping stain and so on and so on. For more on color systems click here.


So where do you start?

At our facility we use the HULS 844 colorants for our stains, glazes and paints. I wanted to to show what happens when you mix color A with color B. The charts that follow shows the results of mixing every one of the 12 HULS colorants with every other one of the 12 HULS colorants.

The colors are mixed in 3 different ratios:

  • 2 parts Left Color & 1 part Top Color 

  • Equal parts Left Color & Top Color     

  • 1 part Left Color & 2 parts Top Color  

The resultant pigments are mixed into a clear stain base and then wiped on Maple, Cherry and Oak.

What these charts show

I wanted to show not only what color you get when you mix 2 different colorants together, but also how the ratios of the mix affect the final color - as in how much red do you have to add to green or blue to get brown. By applying the stains to 3 different color woods we can see how much the background color of the wood affects the final color.

What these charts can teach you

These charts are not meant as a stain matching chart, though to a limited degree they could be. They are designed to provide some insight into the much bigger picture of color development. See how the colorants interact and then the added nuances from the background color of the wood.



2 Part HULS Colorants on Maple

2 part HULS colorants on cherry

2 part HULS colorants on oak


2 part HULS colorants on maple - oak - cherry

  See the difference the wood makes

Dye and Wiping stain

 See the effect of a dye, wiping time  and the wood color
By Ron Bryze at