Any ideas? I have a wide shelf which forms a bench by my bay windows, they have become sun bleached and water marks from window leaks, flower pots etc. I have removed what finish they had before and applied a clear water based lacquer. After the first coat I don't think it will be that great, so I have come to the conclusion I am going to need some sort of colour added to the finish. I don't want to use stain and don't like sadolin which I think more for exterior use. Does any one have any ideas for a good protective finish that has some colour, and one that could be used on top of my first coat of water based lacquer, but not essential.
I have removed what finish they had before and applied a clear water based lacquer.
Waterbase finishes are generally the least-good option here because they tend to be colourless when dry and don't 'wet' the surface of the wood as well as oil-based varnish or shellac might. These two factors combine to do nothing or almost nothing to hide the difference in colour.
Just using a topcoat with some inherent colour (e.g. a conventional alkyd/polyurethane varnish) will go some way towards masking the bleached areas because they will tend to colour slightly more than the un-bleached areas. But very rarely would this be enough on its own to provide a satisfactory result.
After the first coat I don't think it will be that great, so I have come to the conclusion I am going to need some sort of colour added to the finish.
Unfortunately the best way to blend in colour repairs like this is to start from the wood and work up as it gives you the most flexibility (but see final point below if you can't face stripping back to bare wood).
For example, you might carefully stain the bleached areas to get close to the colour of the adjacent un-bleached wood, then use a coloured finish over the whole job to help blend in the slight colour mis-match. This is at heart a simple method, although more challenging to do in practice than the simple description makes it sound (isn't that always the way?) If you try this I would recommend oil-based stains as they provide the easiest working conditions, mainly due to the slowest drying time.
Another method is to deal with the bleaching itself, by using a wood product intended to remove bleaching.
Another method is to bleach the rest of the wood to match the sun-bleached areas, then you start from a level playing field and can simply use whatever finish is appropriate for the new light colour of the wood.
You can also do this entirely using finish, doing some variety of toning. This can be done using commercial toners, coloured shellac or by mixing something for yourself. It's not the easiest job because for the best result you need to use spray apparatus of some kind. But acceptable results can be achieved using careful brushwork, feathering the edges, or 'pouncing' with a finish-application pad.