I've tried to read everything I can find about finishing my new white
oak kitchen table purchased from an unfinished furniture store, and I'm
currently thinking that after applying a light oil stain (and letting it
dry for at least two days) I would like to apply multiple top coats of
water-based poly as the final finish.
I get the feeling from all that I've read that there is a greater chance
of not getting that "thick plastic" look if I use the "wipe" method as
opposed to the brush/foam/paint pad method. I would like to use
water-based poly because of fewer VOCs (I have to do the finishing in
the living space of my home and it's getting cold outside) and as it's
just the wife and I, we shouldn't suffer from the lesser durability than
what you would get from the oil-based polys.
What I can't find, is any information on whether or not you CAN thin a
water-based poly and apply via the wipe method. Lots of info on thinning
oil-based poly, but nothing on water-based.
I've been leaning towards using Zar "Aqua Zar" or General Finishes "EF
PolyAcrilic". I've received an email from Zar technical support and they
say "don't do it". I have yet to hear back from General Finishes.
While I do like to listen to what the manufactures say about their
products, I would very much like to receive advice and opinions from
experienced netizens and the results of real-world experience.
Speaking just for myself, I can't stand the look of water-based poly. On high
spill-prone pieces I use Waterlox, a tung-oil based varnish. I like the look
and feel of
it - very clear, not yellow or blue, nor thick and plastic either.
Thanks for the reply!
I'm definitely a "likes the finish inside the wood, not on top of the
wood" kinda guy. But all the oil finishes I've read about require waxing
as the final step and maintenance. Is that not the case with Waterlox?
Further exploration leads me to the Target Coatings "Oxford Hybrid
Super-Clear 9000 Polyurethene" which specificially states that it can be
diluted 20% for wipe-on applications.
I note that this product (and many others) recommend that it be applied
over a sealer, especially oak. If I am NOT going for a high-gloss
guitar-body finish, but just a casual kitchen table, is a sealer still
Still intrigued by the in-a-completely-different-direction Waterlox
recommendation also ...
Water-based poly is an emulsion in a mixture of water and organic
solvents. There is a lot less organic solvent than solvent-based poly,
but there is some and if you change the composition of the liquid by too
much dilution you risk breaking the emulsion. In that case, the solids
content separates from the solution - i.e. the stuff is ruined. I
would avoid diluting unless the manufacturer says it is OK, and then
don't dilute anymore than they tell you.
I've used water-based poly a lot in the winter when I have to finish
inside the house. (The rest of the year I finish in the garage with
some ventilation). One thing to be aware of is that because of the water
the first coat really raises the grain a lot and the surface will feel
very rough. You will need to sand after the first coat almost to the
point that all the poly on the surface is taken off. So think of the
first coat as a sealer of sorts and let it dry very well before sanding.
With large pore wood like oak you may have to do pretty heavy sanding
after the first two coast.
If it were me, I would use a good brush and finish the underside of the
table with undiluted stuff and see if you like the results. I think the
plasticy look attributed to poly is a myth. Any finish that you build
that has high gloss can look plastic, not just poly. If you don't want
a glossy look, use a satin formulation, or use a gloss formulation and
sand with fine steel wool at the end.
On Sat, 25 Oct 2003 09:03:38 -0400, email@example.com (Steve James)
I agree for the most part, except for the myth. Any finish, badly
applied, will look like crap. Many bad finishes seem to be Minwax
polyurethanes applied 1/4" thick, because bad finishers are unaware of
the better products and methods. So the plasticky look is real, but
not simply due to the presence of polyurethane, just bad usage. Also,
just as with stains, there ARE better brands than Minwax polyurethane.
Even the highest quality tool doesn't do the work itself!
An alternate method is to use gloss all the way to the last coat, with
a satin coat last. Either way will provide more clarity than building
multiple satin coats, as the flattening agents tend to cloud the
By the myth of poly and the plastic look what I (mainly) meant was that
this is not something unique to polyurethane. So I agree with you. You
can get a crappy result with a poor product or by improper application
of a good one.
For my own education, what brand of polyurethane finish do you prefer?
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