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Info & Techniques > Water-based Finishing Techniques

In the words of Monty Python..”forget everything you know”. The set of rules for oil base finishes are not the same when using water base finishes. Modern water-based finishes give excellent results, but when applying they are less forgiving than solvent finishes, so you have to be more precise in your preparation and techniques. If you continue to do everything exactly the same as when applying solvent finishes, you could end up in trouble.

Here are some tips.

Spray applied

  • When storing, do not allow to freeze
  • Temperature important when spraying (min temperature is 18°C)
  • Filtering important
  • Important to apply thin coats, especially first coat/sealing coat
  • Scuff sanding and time interval between applying coats is important so good adhesion occurs between coats.
  • When applying low sheens (matt and satin) first coat with a sealer or gloss to prevent a cloudy effect.
  • When applying on top of an oil or solvent based stain allow a minimum of 24-48 hours before applying WB finish.

Brush applied

  • When storing, do not allow to freeze
  • Apply a coat as a sealer. Sometimes a separate sealer is available, however usually waterborne coatings are self sealing.
  • High quality brushes generally give the best results. If using a foam brush and bubbles appear, take a second brush slightly dampened with water to remove bubbles in the finish.
  • It is best work at room temperature. Check with the manufacturer for drying times on each product. Also remember that dying between coats is significantly affected by temperature and humidity.
  • Sand the seal coat after it dries. All water-based products raise the grain to some degree. A good sanding of the first coat will eliminate the problem of a rough finish for subsequent coats.
  • Do not finish beyond 4 mils thickness.
  • If you plan to sand and rub the finish, wait a few days for full drying to take place.
  • Do not attempt to conduct adhesion tests for about a week after application.

By making some small changes you will get excellent results.