Furniture Care


*Which Is Better as a Sealer? Topcoat or Wax?

It depends on whether you are looking for aesthetics or durability.

A topcoat will provide greater durability and protection than wax finishes over time.

While wax finishes are lovely, they typically show wear (fingerprints) and are not permanent, requiring semi-annual to annual maintenance.

Wax is a low durability finish. It’s fine for a decorative piece that will receive light traffic. It is absolutely not strong enough for tables, kitchen cabinets, or other surfaces that will see frequent use.

Wax takes a bit of elbow grease to apply.

Furthermore, nothing adheres well to wax, which can impact future finish changes. Even though there is internet chatter about removing wax with 3rd party products or mineral spirits, the risk of a failure in re-coating over a wax finish is very high and sometimes impossible.

If you love a wax finish, try General Finishes Satin Finishing Wax. If you want the look and feel of wax with more durability, use our General Finishes Flat Out Flat Topcoat. For even more protection, use General Finishes High Performance Topcoat.

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Will a steam mop damage Pro Image or Pro Shield finish?

A steam mop won't damage the finish film but it will force moisture into the wood between the boards or into any open scratched areas on the surface of the board. This could cause a de-lamination of the finish from the wood or damage to the wood itself. We recommend a commercial floor cleaner such as Bona floor cleaning system.

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*What is the Difference Between Dry Time and Cure Time?

Dry time is the recommended length of time between coats of product, often called recoat time, and cure time is the length of time recommended before subjecting your finished project to daily use. The following factors can influence your dry time:


All of General Finishes products' dry and cure time recommendations are subject to the conditions of the room in which you are refinishing and storing your piece. Ideal conditions are 70°F/21°C and 50% humidity. Cooler temperatures and high humidity levels can prolong dry time any from 8-10 hours.


When applying an oil-based product over a water-based product and vice versa, dry time increases. It's extremely important to be sure your first application of finish has completely dried before applying the next layer. When switching from an oil-based product to a water-based product, wait 72 hours to apply your next coat of product. When switching from a water-based product to an oil-based product, wait 24 hours.


Applying product to a raw wood surface will result in a shorter dry time. When applying over an existing finish, dry time increases.


Painting your finish on will require a longer dry time. If you are applying and then wiping off, or spraying, dry time is less.

Before adding additional coats of product, the following DRY times should be honored:

The following are average CURE times based on recommended temperature and humidity:

  • 21 days for water-based products
  • 30 days for oil-based products
  • You can use a piece lightly after about 7 days but be cautious - the finish will still be curing for another 2 or 3 weeks.

Some of General Finishes wait times might seem a bit generous but we need to account for all variables beyond our control. You can test your surface for dryness ahead of schedule by knowing what to look for. There are two ways to tell if it is an oil-based product is dry. If it is no longer tacky and it doesn't smell, it is dry. You can tell if a water-based product is dry by touching it. If its cool to the touch, it's not dry. If you can sand a water-based topcoat to a powder, its dry.

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*What is the Cure Time After Applying a Finish to Furniture or Cabinets?

"Cure time" is the amount of time needed for the finish on a piece to reach maximum hardness and be ready for normal use. This is different than "dry time." 

Water-based finishes cure faster than oil-based finishes, approximately 21 days vs 30 days under ideal conditions (70°F and 50% humidity).

During the curing stage, treat your project with special care. Avoid placing heavy objects on it. Always avoid the use of furniture polishes, dusting sprays or oil soaps as they may contaminate the finish for future re-coating. Use a water-dampened cloth for regular cleaning. Wipe up spills in a timely manner.

WATER SPILLS AND DAILY USE: Clean water spills up as they occur during regular use and protect from heat. Although General Finishes products are water resistant, they are not impervious to water. Surfaces will not be damaged by spilled water so long as it is cleaned up promptly. Use coasters to protect your wood from standing water and pot holders to protect from heat.


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*How Should I Clean My Finished Project?

After your finish has cured, the best way to clean is with a water-damp rag. If your surface requires deep cleaning due to grease or grime build-up, add a speck of a strong dish detergent, such as Dawn or a bit of vinegar to your damp rag.

If need deeper cleaning, use General Finishes Orange Oil Polish.

Avoid using oil-soap or silicone-based daily cleaners or dusting sprays These products and the chemicals in other cleaners can contaminate your finish, preventing adhesion of future finishes. 

NOTE: Do not clean furniture until the finish has cured completely. 

Cure Time Guidelines: 

  • Water Based Finishes: 21 days
  • Oil Based Finishes: 30 days 

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