Lightfast Non Fade Stains
The advantage of Lightfast stains are that they are quick drying and non grain raising.
It is possible to apply these by hand but ideally they are sprayed due to the nature of them drying so fast.
It takes experience and skill to apply these to large areas.
Water Based Crystals.
These stains are the quickest drying of all.
There not advisable to use on a floor as there colour fades very quickly where there is daylight.
Also they raise the grain of the timber which is not a good starting point to apply a lacquer or oil over.
If a flooring contractor says he will use a waterbased stain to colour the floor, I would avoid them.
Spirit Non fade Stains
These stains have a long open time, which means you have enough time to work them into the floor without them quickly drying on you.
They are non grain raising and will not fade easily.
Osmo or Bona Oil Stains
These can be buffed on using a machine.
They are designed to have an oil application applied over them.
They usually are left overnight to dry.