Brushable White Enamel Water Based Paint

Brushable White Enamel is a premium, pigmented water-based wood enamel ideal for cabinets, furniture and millwork and is tintable to light colors using zero VOC colorants. Acting as a 2-in-1 paint and topcoat, this enamel can be brushed, rolled or sprayed on the job. See our spray tip size recommendations here. 
4 Reasons to Switch to Water-Based Finishes

General Finishes Water Based Brushable White Enamel Satin, Quart


Step 1. Preparation


1. Sand with 120-grit sandpaper followed by 150-grit.

2. Remove dust. 


Watch our video "How to Prep an Existing Finish"

1. Scuff clean with a Scotch-Brite™ pad & 50:50 mix of denatured alcohol & water.

2. Dry 1-2 hours.

3. Sand lightly with 220-320-grit foam sanding sponge.

4. Remove dust.

Step 2: Priming

When applying Brushable White Enamel over raw wood, apply 2 coats of Stain Blocker FIRST. Watch product overview video here.

Causes of bleed-through:

  1. ​​​​​​Raw Wood Tannin Bleed-Through is unpredictable; yellowing can appear immediately or months later with seasonal temperature changes. Oak, pine, mahogany, and Douglas fir are particularly prone to bleed-through. 
  2. Knots in Wood tend to bleed and are dense, making paint adhesion a challenge. Stain Blocker may improve adhesion and prevent bleed-through.
  3. Existing Finishes Bleed-Through may be caused by wood tannins, previous stains or aniline dyes, surface contamination, and incompatibility between brands.
  4. ALWAYS apply 2 coats General Finishes Stain Blocker before applying Brushable White Enamel over an existing finish for adhesion and to prevent bleed-through.

Non-Wood Surfaces may be able to accept paint if primed first. Primer may improve adhesion over laminate and prevent bleed-through from MDF. Metal requires a primer made specifically for metal.

NOTE: Do not tint or use General Finishes Stain Blocker on projects that will be stored outdoors.

Priming Non-Wood Surfaces
Always test for adhesion on a hidden area of your project before getting started.

Metal: Brushable White Enamel is engineered for wood surfaces, but may adhere to metal, such as aluminum or steel, if a metal primer is applied first. 

  1. Clean surface well.
  2. Apply primer.
  3. Dry 48-72 hours before painting.

Laminate: Brushable White Enamel MAY adhere to laminate with a bonding primer; however, we cannot guarantee it. You may increase your chances of success by abrading the surface.

  1. Prep: Deep clean, dry thoroughly, sand with 150- then 180-grit sandpaper, and wipe off dust.
  2. Prime: Apply bonding primer, dry 12+ hours before painting.

MDF: Brushable White Enamel can be applied directly to MDF, but the MDF may cast a brown color if not primed first. Two base coats of white-pigmented shellac-based stain-blocking primer, or Stain Blocker, may prevent bleed-through. Alternatively, one base coat of General Finishes Seagull Gray Milk Paint may block brown tone caused by MDF.

MDF is not as absorbent as natural wood. Let each coat of primer and paint dry at least 48 hours before recoating.

Although Stain Blocker is engineered to prevent the most persistent bleed-through when 2 coats are applied, General Finishes cannot guarantee prevention of bleed-through or yellowing on every project. Unknown factors and assiduous bleed-through can impact results. Stain Blocker is the strongest option we are aware of at this time and has performed extremely well in our tests.

Step 3: How To Apply General Finishes Brushable White Enamel

CAUTION: Do NOT use any type of clear topcoat over GF Brushable White Enamel, as it may cause yellowing when used over raw or finished wood substrates regardless of priming. GF Brushable White Enamel is a premium self-sealing finish and does not require a topcoat.

General Finishes Brushable White Enamel Application Steps for Raw Wood and Sealed Surfaces

  1. Watch a product overview video here or comparison of GF paints and pigmented topcoats here
  2. Work in a well-ventilated area. 
  3. Stir thoroughly to reincorporate solids that have settled to the bottom of the can before and throughout the application process.
  4. Thin as desired with distilled water; start with 5%, adding up to 10% by volume. 
  5. Increase open time, if needed, 10-15% General Finishes Extender if allowed by local regulations. GF Extender will improve flow and leveling and increase open time, which is helpful in dry climates. California Residents: Adding more than 2% of GF Extender will make the products non-compliant per SCAQMD Regulations. GF assumes no liability for the improper use of these products.    
  6. 2-3 coats are recommended, dependent on substrate & primer used.  Additional coats may be required for full coverage over dark colors. Test for adhesion over existing finishes before completing the project.
    • Hand application: Use a synthetic bristle or foam brush, pad applicator, or cabinet grade roller with smooth, even strokes.
    • Spray application: Before spraying, strain through a medium-mesh filter. Spray wet films at 3-5-mil thickness. HVLP: 1.8mm-2.0mm spray tip, medium air cap. Verify tip sizes with your equipment supplier. See our spray tip size recommendations here. Keep your gun at a 90° angle, 6-8" from the surface. On large, flat areas, use wet, even patterns 6-8" wide. For narrow surfaces, reduce the fan pattern to 2-3" wide to reduce overspray. Overlap each pass 25% to conceal lines. Wear NIOSH-approved respiratory & eye protection.  Read here for more information on spraying techniques.
  7. Dry 2+ hours between coats in ideal conditions: 70°F/21°C; 50% humidity. Be sure to allow adequate dry time. You can tell if a water-based finish is dry if it forms a powder when lightly sanded with a fine-grade (220-320) foam sanding pad. If in doubt, wait longer. Rushing the dry time can cause "blush," which is clouding in the finish due to moisture trapped between the layers. Increase dry time if:
    • Humidity is over 80%
    • 3+ coats are applied
    • Thick coats are applied
    • Applying over an existing sealed finish
    • Applying over products from other brands
    • Layering General Finishes water- and oil-based products:
      • Water over oil: Let oil-based products dry 72+hr before applying water-based products
      • Oil over water: Let water-based products dry 24+hr before applying oil-based products
    • To accelerate dry time in humid conditions, add General Finishes Accelerator and work in a space with good ventilation and air movement. If you decide to re-coat before the recommended time, test dryness.
  8. Finish sand between coats with a fine-grade (220-320) foam sanding pad to improve smoothness and adhesion. Do not use conventional steel wool. 
  9. Remove dust with a vacuum, compressed air, an oil-free tack cloth or a water-dampened rag.
  10. A topcoat is not required or recommended. The use of clear topcoat, even when the surface is primed, may cause yellowing. If you choose to topcoat, apply no more than 2 coats and apply Brushable White Enamel over 2 coats General Finishes Stain Blocker. 


BWE can be tinted, but only to a light neutral or pastel shade with a Colorfal Zero VOC UTC colorant.

Cure Time
Water-based finishes cure and harden for full use after 21 days in ideal conditions. Avoid placing heavy objects on surfaces that have not completely cured. Treat gently, and do not clean with commercial products during the curing period.

Warning: Do not use water-based products with Linseed Oils or Danish Oils.

Cleanup of Water Based Products

Application tools and materials containing water-based products can be cleaned with soap and water or General Finishes Brush & Gun Cleaner immediately after use.

Product Spills
Spills may be able to be removed from fabric and carpet if cleaned immediately with soap and water.


Discard unused product and waste in an environmentally safe manner; check with local fire and health regulation. 

Storage of Water Based Products

Please be mindful of the manner in which water-based products are stored and how long they have been in storage. They not a forever product. 

Life of Product
Water-based products do not last forever, even when unopened. General Finishes products are best used within 1 year. However, the life of the product may be extended several more years with proper care and storage (see Storage Tips below).

Water-based products can last 3-5 years if the can is unopened, in good condition and stored in correct temperatures.

Product that is 3 years old will not look like product that is 6 months to 1 year old. You will see more stratification or separation as the product ages. Always stir thoroughly before using. 

Foul Smell
If your product has a foul smell, it is contaminated and no longer in useable condition.

Clumps & Settling
Gravity can cause some solids to settle on the bottom of the can and slight separation on the top. This is normal. If working with older product stir with a paint mixing attachment on a drill.

If the solids dissolve and clumps smooth out after mixing from the bottom, the product is in good condition for use.

Inability to reincorporate large, chunky lumps after stirring for several minutes is an indication that the product has frozen and can no longer be used.

Storage Tips
See video tutorial: Tips on Storing Leftover Finishes
Water-based finishes crystalize and form a skin due to evaporation when the air-tight seal on a can is broken at first use. The following best practices will increase the life of your product:

  1. Pry open sealed lids with a paint can opener by hooking under the lid's rolled edge. The use of a screwdriver can disfigure the rim and lid, impairing a complete seal. 
  2. Keep lid closed while working. Pour what you will use into a bowl, paper cup, or plate, and close can lid as you work.
  3. Clean the chime of the can thoroughly with a paper towel before closing to create a complete seal. Product falling into the chime can be minimized by using a pouring lid, such as Fitsall. Avoid wiping used brushes on the lid.
  4. Pound the lid in place using a rubber mallet to avoid distorting the chime or lid. Dents in the lid from direct contact with a hammer can impair a complete seal. Alternatively, place a flat piece of wood over can lid and firmly pound shut.
  5. Store in moderate temperatures. Avoid temperatures below 50°F/10°C or above 100°F/26°C. Keep from freezing. Frozen and heat-damaged product cannot be revitalized. Temperature-controlled spaces, such as a basement, are ideal for storage. Do not store product in an attic, garage, in direct sunlight, or next to something warm like a water heater or furnace.
  6. Store can upside down to create a liquid seal, minimize evaporation and reduce the chance of crystallization. Decant remaining product from the can before stirring. 
  7. Decant leftovers to a smaller container when the finish is almost used up. Alternative storage containers for water-based products are plastic FIFO bottles or glass bottles. Do not fill metal-lidded containers completely to prevent them from rusting.

The following water-based product mixtures can be stored:

  1. Product thinned with up to 15% General Finishes Extender or General Finishes Accelerator can be stored, with the exception of thinned General Finishes Water Based Wood Stain.
  2. Mixtures involving colors & sheens within the same product line, such as:
    • High Performance Satin + High Performance Gloss
    • Snow White Milk Paint + Coastal Blue Milk Paint
    • Amber Dye Stain + Merlot Dye Stain

The following product mixtures should NOT be stored:

  • Any water based product with thinned tap water; water often contains bacteria that will adversely affect stored paint.
  • Topcoat + Stain or Paint
  • Milk Paint + Chalk Style Paint
  • Water Based Wood Stain + Dye Stain

Furniture Care and Maintenance

Cure First
You have just finished applying a fine furniture finish. Treat gently until the paint or topcoat have fully cured. Allow 21 days for a water-based finish to cure and 30 days for an oil-based finish to cure before cleaning.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

  • Remove dust with a water-dampened cloth. Dust can build up over time and may scratch or dull finishes if not removed regularly. 
  • Remove fingerprints, cooking fumes and smoking residue with mild soap and water. These contaminants will not harm the finish, but they accumulate on surfaces and dull the original luster. 
  • As with all fine furniture finishes, avoid using furniture polish, cleaners or dusting sprays that contain silicone, alcohol, ammonia and anything acidic. Exception: We have successfully cleaned with Clorox wipes for occasional cleanups.
  • Clean up water, alcohol and food spills in a timely manner and use placemats & coasters to protect the finish.
  • Future finishes or touch-ups may not adhere properly or perform as desired over a contaminated surface. Some contaminants, such as silicone, seep through finish into the wood and often cannot be removed.
  • Avoid excessive exposure to direct sunlight, high temperatures or high humidity. These can damage furniture and finishes.

Warnings and Warranties

Brushable White Enamel Warnings and Warranties


Do not use water-based products with Linseed Oils or Danish Oils.

Limited Warranty
General Finishes products must be tested to your complete satisfaction before using. General Finishes will not be responsible for color satisfaction, misapplication, nor compatibility with other manufacturer's products. General Finishes will be responsible only for the cost of our products, and not for costs such as labor, damage or project replacement.

Contamination and Compatibility
Our finishes are engineered as a system and are compatible with each other. General Finishes cannot guarantee an ideal refinish when applying our products on top of or combined with another company's products or over surfaces that have been in contact with waxes, polishes or sprays containing contaminants such as silicone. Test for adherence and aesthetics before beginning.

FIRST AID: Seek immediate medical attention if symptoms occur due to the following. EYE CONTACT: Remove any contact lenses. Flush eyes with water for 20+ minutes while lifting upper and lower eyelids. SKIN CONTACT: Wash thoroughly after handling. INHALATION: Move to fresh air and loosen clothing. If not breathing, if breathing is irregular or if respiratory arrest occurs, provide artificial respiration or oxygen by trained personnel. INGESTION: Call physician immediately. Wash out mouth with water. Do not induce vomiting unless directed to do so by medical personnel. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person.

Prop 65 WARNING:

  • Satin
    WARNING: This product can expose you to chemicals including Ethylene oxide, which is known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. This product can expose you to chemicals including Titanium dioxide, Crystalline silica, respirable powder, Ethylbenzene, 1,4-Dioxane, Dibromoacetonitrile, which are known to the State of Californiato cause cancer, and Ethanediol, which is known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information, go to

  • Semi-Gloss
    WARNING: This product can expose you to chemicals including Ethylene oxide, which is known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. This product can expose you to chemicals including Titanium dioxide, Crystalline silica, respirable powder, Ethylbenzene, 1,4-Dioxane, Dibromoacetonitrile, which are known to the State of California to cause cancer, and Ethanediol, which is known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information, go to



  • Satin
    WARNING: Keep out of reach of children. Avoid contact with eyes. Keep container tightly closed when not in use. Wash thoroughly after handling.

  • Semi-Gloss
    Keep out of reach of children. Avoid contact with eyes. Keep container tightly closed when not in use. Wash thoroughly after handling.


Basic Features
Product Colors White
Base Type Water
Ambering No
Sheen Flat (5-10), Satin (25-35), Semi-Gloss (50-60)
Interior or Exterior Interior only
Tintable White & light colors only
Type Pigmented Enamel
Coats 2 - 3 coats
Application Method Brush, Roll, Spray, Pad
Brushable Yes
Usable over existing finishes Yes - see product page application instructions.
Sprayable Yes
Spray Tip Sizes HVLP 1.8mm-2.0mm
Topcoat Required Self-Sealing
Dry Time
Dry Time - Touch 30+ min.
Dry Time - Recoat 2+ hr
Dry Time - Light Use 12-18 hr
Dry Time - Cure 21 days
Can Sizes Quarts, Gallons
Coverage 100-125 sq.ft./quart, 400-500 sq.ft./gallon
Technical Data
Viscosity Thick
Viscosity (cPs) 1500-2000
Solids by Weight and Volume Solids by Weight
Flat: 44%
Satin: 43%
Semi-Gloss: 44%

Solids by Volume
Flat: 33%
Satin: 32%
Semi-Gloss: 34%
Flat: <80 g/L
Satin: <80 g/L
Semi-Gloss: <80 g/L
Durability (Highest, High, Medium, Low) High
Hardness (Koenig #) 60
Chemical (105 max) 77


Brushable White Enamel Frequently Asked Questions

*Can Brushable White Enamel Be Tinted?

Yes, Brushable White Enamel can be tinted to a light neutral or pastel shade with a zero VOC UTC colorant. 

Related Categories

*Can Brushable White Enamel Be Used Over an Existing Finish?

Brushable White Enamel can be applied to raw wood or existing finishes. When applying over an existing finish, be sure to prep your surface properly.

Learn how to properly prep existing finishes by watching this video.

The use of General Finishes Stain Blocker wood primer is recommended on both raw wood and existing finishes to prevent dye or stain bleed-through.

Related Categories

*How Does Brushable White Enamel Compare to Enduro White Poly?

General Finishes Enduro Pigmented White Poly and General Finishes Brushable White Enamel have similar durability, but different polymer systems.

The ingredients in Brushable White Enamel cause it to dry slower than Enduro White Poly. Enduro White Poly is a spray finish, and Brushable White Enamel is brush, roll, or spray.  Professionals often pair the two by rolling the face frames with Brushable White Enamel and spraying Enduro White Poly. Brushable White Enamel is the perfect choice for homeowners and DIYers who want a professional finish, similar to White Poly, but don't have spray equipment.

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*What Shade of White is Brushable White Enamel?

General Finishes Brushable White Enamel is a bright white. It's similar in color to General Finishes Snow White Milk Paint and General Finishes Enduro Pigmented White Poly.

Related Categories