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Enduro-Var II Water Based Topcoat

Enduro-Var II is a reformulation of our original oil-modified, ambering, water-based topcoat. It replaces original Endurovar and is made with more than 70% RENEWABLE RESOURCES formulated from sustainable materials that decrease the carbon footprint and is compatible with ALL GF products. The new formula dries to a lighter amber than the previous formula, is highly water-resistant, and is both sprayable and brushable. Download Professional Water Based Product catalog here.


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Step 1: Preparation

All wood projects require preparation sanding. If you skip this critical step, your finish may fail.

Preparation for Raw Wood 
See our video: How to Prep Sand Raw Wood

  1. Sanding Schedule: 120-grit followed by 150- or 220-grit sandpaper.
  2. Remove dust with a vacuum, compressed air, an oil-free tack cloth or a water-dampened rag.
  3. Let dry completely before applying GF product.
  4. Do NOT use steel wool with water-based finishes; the particles will get trapped in the finish and rust.

Preparation for Projects with an Existing Sealed Surface
1. Completely remove existing finish prior to use.
2. Test entire finishing process over raw wood for adhesion before getting started. Contaminants from an existing finish can seep into the wood and impact results.

Step 2: How To Apply General Finishes Enduro-Var

How to Apply General Finishes Enduro-Var Water Based Topcoat 

CAUTION: Do not use over bright whites as the finish will yellow. Enduro-Var has a slight pink cast to the color in the can. This is normal. It will dry to a light amber color.

  1. Watch Enduro-Var II product overview video here and a comparison video of our topcoats here
  2. Work in a well-ventilated area. 
  3. Stir topcoat thoroughly to reincorporate solids that have settled to the bottom of the can before and throughout the application process.
  4. Test for adhesion. 
  5. Thin as desired with distilled water; start with 5%, adding up to 10% by volume.
  6. Increase open time, if needed, with 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. 
  7. Apply 3 coats. More coats will not improve durability.
    • Hand application: Apply a liberal amount of product using a synthetic bristle brush, foam brush, pad applicator, or roller along the wood grain with smooth, even strokes & light lap lines. Avoid pressure and back brushing. Lap lines will tighten down as they dry. 
    • Spray application: Before spraying, strain topcoat through a fine-mesh filter. Spray wet films at 3-5-mil thickness. HVLP: 1.1mm-1.3mm spray tip, medium air cap. Verify tip sizes with your equipment supplier. See our general guide for spray tip sizes. 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 a full filter respirator (NIOSH/MSHA-approved) and work in a ventilated space. Visit this FAQ for more information on spraying techniques.
  8. Finish sand between coats with a fine-grade (220-320) foam sanding pad to improve smoothness and adhesion.
  9. Remove dust with a vacuum, compressed air, an oil-free tack cloth or a water-dampened rag.

Enduro-Var Ambers
General Finishes Enduro-Var is water-based, but it imparts a warm amber tone and brings out grain definition as a traditional solvent urethane would on exotic woods such as Paduk, Cocobolo, and Bubinga.

Tinting & Toning Enduro-Var
Enduro-Var II can be used as a toner by mixing by volume with 5- 10%  General Finishes Dye Stain or to enhance color tone. General Finishes Amber Dye Stain or General Finishes Vintage Cherry Dye Stain work well, or a 50:50 combination of both. Apply 2 coats of the tinted topcoat for a deeper, more vibrant color.

High-Use Surfaces
General Finishes High Performance Topcoat, General Finishes Enduro Clear Poly and General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Topcoat are recommended on high-use surfaces such as kitchen tabletops, kitchen cabinets or bath vanities instead of Enduro-Var because they have greater water and chemical resistance. 

WARNING: Incompatible Products

  1. Shellac
  2. Linseed Oils
  3. Danish Oils

Dry Time

Dry Time Between Coats

Dry 2+ hours between coats in ideal conditions: 70*F/20°C; 50-70% humidity. 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. Inadequate dry time can trap moisture and cause clouding. Cooler temperatures, high humidity and sealed substrates may prolong dry time. 

Increase dry time if: 

  • Humidity is over 80%
  • 3+ coats are applied
  • Thick coats are applied
  • 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 speed up drying 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.

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


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.

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

Enduro-Var Warnings and Warranties

The following products should not be used under or over Enduro-Var for ideal results. 

Incompatible Products:

  • All oil based products. Enduro-Var ONLY ADHERES WELL OVER WATER-BASED STAINS, DYE STAINS, and RAW WOOD. It will adhere to an oil-based stain ONLY IF the stain is completely dry (minimum 4 days dry time). Use Enduro-Var over any other surfaces at your own risk.
  • Shellac
  • Linseed Oils
  • 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 skin immediately upon contact. Remove contaminated shoes and clothing; clean and wash before re-use. 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: This product can expose you to N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone, which is known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov.


  • Flat: 
    Keep out of the reach of children. Use only with adequate ventilation. Do not swallow. Do not get on skin or clothing. Avoid contact with eyes. Avoid breathing vapor or mist. Keep container tightly closed when not in use. Wash thoroughly after handling.
  • Satin, Semi-Gloss, Gloss:
    Keep out of the reach of children. Use only with adequate ventilation. Do not swallow. Do not get in eyes or on skin or clothing. Avoid breathing vapor or mist. Keep container tightly closed when not in use. Wash thoroughly after handling.


Basic Features
Product Colors Dries Amber
Base Type Water
Ambering Yes
Sheen Flat (10 or less), Satin (25-35), Semi-Gloss (50-60), Gloss (80+)
Interior or Exterior Interior only
Tintable Yes
Type Oil-modified Urethane
Coats 3 coats
Application Method Brush, Roll, Spray
Brushable Yes
Usable over existing finishes No
Sprayable Yes
Spray Tip Sizes HVLP 1.1mm-1.3mm
Dry Time
Dry Time - Touch 30+ min.
Dry Time - Recoat 4+ hr
Dry Time - Light Use 7-10 days
Dry Time - Cure 21 days
Can Sizes Quarts, Gallons, 5 Gallon pails
Coverage 125-150 sq.ft./quart, 500-600 sq.ft./gallon
Technical Data
Viscosity Thin
Viscosity (cPs) 200-300
Weight Solids 28%
All sheens <250 g/L
Durability (Highest, High, Medium, Low) Medium
Hardness (Koenig #) 123
Wear (Taber #) 95.60 mg loss
Water (5 max) 3
Chemical (105 max) 84


Enduro-Var FAQs

What is the difference between professional Enduro Clear Poly and High Performance Topcoat?

Enduro Clear Poly is designed for professionals that routinely spray their finishes. High Performance is formulated for the retail market so it can be sprayed or hand applied.

  • Enduro Clear Poly is slightly more durable than High Performance in the categories of wear, water, and chemical resistance. 
  • Even though Enduro Clear poly is more durable and more water resistant than High Performance, High Performance is extremely durable and also recommended for high-use surfaces like kitchen cabinets and table tops.
  • Both products can be sprayed
  • High Performance can also be applied by hand with a foam/bristle brush.
  • Clear Poly is an Acrylic Urethane and High Performance is a Urethane/Acrylic Blend.
  • High Performance is sold in Pints, Quarts & Gallons by GF Retailers, Clear Poly is Gallon, 5-gallon pails and 55-gallon drums by GF Distributors. Cost is determined by Retailer/Distributor.


How do I repair a section that I have buffed through using Enduro-Var over an epoxy on a guitar

Our first concern is the use of the epoxy. Although you have may had success with this process previously, we do not recommend the use of Enduro-Var with epoxy or any oil based products. Enduro-Var works well on its own or with GFs water based finishes. There is a great possibility that future finishes can fail. 
Nor do we recommend adding denatured alcohol, which should not be used in any of General Finishes water based products. Denatured alcohol can change the polarity of a finish formula, kicking out polymer particles that would look like grit on the surface. Denatured alcohol could also deactivate the defoamers in the formula.
The use of Extender won't help you. It is a water based product and will not melt through existing layers of finish in the same manner that solvent finishes do.
We interpret that you are trying to remove witness lines which are basically sanding marks. For your current situation, we recommend attempting to build the area with just Enduro-Var, then buffing out with a 2000-3000 grit. You may have to sand down and start over if that is not successful.
Future forward. Use Enduro-Var on its own. Although it is a favorite among Luthiers, it is a unique hybrid finish that does not pay well with other finishes.

Relevant Videos

*How Can I Buff Enduro-Var Gloss to a Higher Gloss?

Contributed by Jeff Jewitt of Homestead Finishing Supplies

Day 1:

  • Prep sand the wood with 220-grit sandpaper.
  • Spray a wet coat of General Finishes Enduro-Var Gloss and dry for 2 hours.
  • Level sand with 320-grit sandpaper.
  • Spray a second wet coat and dry for 2 hours.
  • Lightly sand with 320-grit sandpaper.
  • Spray a third wet coat and allow to dry overnight.

Day 2:

  • Level sand with 320-grit sandpaper.
  • Wipe down with water mixed with 5% Denatured Alcohol.
  • Spray a fourth wet coat 2-3 mils thick and dry 1 hour.
  • Spray 3 more coats, 1 hour between coats, for a total of 4 coats the second day.

Let your project dry 1 week, then:

  • Level sand dry with Mirka P800.
  • Dry sand with Mirka P1200.
  • Dry sand with 2000-grit Mirka Abralon.

Note: Do not use any lubricants of any type for sanding.


  • Buff 3M Finesse-It Material on with foam buffing pad to high gloss.


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Relevant Videos

Why does Enduro-Var clog up in my spray gun during use?

Enduro-Var sprays beautifully if the gun is absolutely clean and does not have any other finish residue. Proper cleaning with acetone followed with hot water should purge the fluid passage. Enduro-Var itself will not cause gun failure.  

Another possibility is the power of the gun. Some of the lower quality guns can overheat causing the product to cure in the gun - they need a rest once in a while if you are using them all day.

Also note that Enduro-Var ADHERES WELL only over WATER STAINS, DYE STAINS, and RAW WOOD. 

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*How Can I Tell if a Water Based Topcoat is Dry?

If the finish feels cool to the touch, it's not ready. When you can sand it to a dry powder, it is ready for the next coat. Dry times will be longer if it is raining, cold, or humid. When in doubt, waiting longer is always better.

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