Winner of Fine Woodworking's "Best Overall Choice Award," High Performance Topcoat was voted as the hardest, most durable consumer polyurethane topcoat. It is so versatile, it can be brushed or sprayed.
CAUTION: Do NOT use GF High Performance or any other clear coat, over white or light paints such as GF Milk Paint, or GF White Poly as it may cause yellowing. Any clear coat can become reactive over wood substrates or existing finishes causing tannin, stain or dye bleed-through. All of GF's White Paints, brushable or spray versions, do NOT require a topcoat.
NOTE:GF High Performance is tintable; however, GF does not have a color database. Tint at your own discretion and risk.
General Finishes High Performance Water Based Topcoat Application Steps for Raw Wood & Sealed Surface
Watch the High Performance Product Overview Video Here (2:07)
Work in a well-ventilated area.
Stir thoroughly to reincorporate solids that have settled to the bottom of the can before and throughout the application process.
Test for adhesion.
Thin as desired with distilled water; start with 5%, adding up to 10% by volume.
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. 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.
Apply 2-3 coats of High Performance. No more than 3 coats is recommended.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 such as Whizz or AllPro Velour brand. Avoid pressure and excessive back brushing. Brush along the wood grain using smooth, even strokes with light lap marks. Let lap marks dry - they WILL tighten down.
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. Read here for more information on spraying techniques.
Face frames and drawers on cabinets: High Performance can be successfully applied by hand to cabinet face frames or edges with a brush, pad or small, cabinet-specific roller such as Whizz or AllPro Velour brand.
Use a semi-gloss or gloss sheen with little to no flatting agents. The more flatting agents, the more likely a topcoat will streak when applied.
To avoid streaking with the flatter sheens, apply a liberal amount of product and avoid using pressure and back-brushing. Wipe along the wood grain using smooth, even strokes. For large surfaces, apply topcoat with a large applicator, such as a paint pad.
Remove any streaks that occur by buffing with fine-grade (220-320) sanding pad, or sanding well and re-coating.
For the smoothest result, apply with a spray gun.
You mix can GF High Performance Topcoat sheens to adjust your sheen. For example, you can mix High Performance Flat and High Performance Gloss to obtain a different sheen.
Tinting GF High Performance is tintable; however, GF does not have a color database. Tint at your own discretion and risk.
Warning: Do not use water-based products with Linseed Oils or Danish Oils.
Dry Time based on ideal conditions of 70°F 21°C; 50% humidity.
Dry time: 2+ hours in ideal conditions
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 or 400-grit sandpaper. 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%
Temperatures are cooler.
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.
As is true of most "water-white" topcoats, General Finishes water-based topcoats dry clear over non-reactive substrates, such as plastic or metal, except General Finishes Enduro-Var, which ambers. When white paint sealed with a water-white topcoat is applied to something as unpredictable as wood, all bets are off and the reason for yellowing is often unknown. It can be caused by topcoat activating tannins in raw wood or aniline dyes, stains, or contaminants in a pre-existing finish. This is most evident when using BRIGHT WHITE paint and most prevalent in sculpted details of furniture where the topcoat can collect, intensifying color change to an unacceptable level.
There is no reliable way to predict whether yellowing will occur and to what degree. Every existing finish is different and we rarely know the finishing provenance on an existing piece. Every tree is different and every piece of wood is unique. Raw wood can bleed tannins immediately after the topcoat dries or months later with seasonal temperature changes. Oak, pine, mahogany, and douglas fir are particularly prone to bleed-through.
Whites have a lower “hide” quality and are more transparent than most other colors. Nearly all bright whites require additional coats to achieve the desired color and minimize color variation. This can increase the cost of paint finishing. Always include a clause in your contracts addressing the need for additional coats to achieve coverage.
All bright white paint will yellow slightly with time, with or without topcoat. You have probably tried to touch up white woodwork in your home after several years and noticed the new paint is brighter.
The underlying finish or wood species can affect the final color of light paint.
Details and inside corners are difficult to cover with any paint color, but it tends to be more noticeable with whites. This is a naturally occurring phenomenon in paint application and does not necessarily constitute a defect in the paint finish or your technique.
The more porous the paint, such as a chalk paint, the more likely that yellowing will occur. The topcoat is seeping through the spaces caused by the larger particles of filler that give Chalk Paints their texture.
Tips to Prevent Yellowing
If it is a low-use project, use a premium white paint that is self-sealing and does not require a topcoat. A clear topcoat is not required on General Finishes Milk Paint for increased durability, as it is a self-sealing, exterior-rated coating with high durability and chemical and water resistance. However, topcoats do provide a smooth surface that is easier to clean and boosts durability for high-use projects, such as tabletops and kitchen cabinets.
Use a professional spray such as General Finishes Enduro White Poly. It has "increased topcoat properties," is a standalone finish when 3 coats are applied, and does not require sealing with a topcoat.
Stain Blocker does not adhere to melamine cabinet veneers.
Stain Blocker cannot be tinted.
Always test your project's ENTIRE finishing schedule (from cleaning to topcoat) on an inside door or a more hidden area of the piece. This will not help if the yellowing occurs later, but at least you will know if there is an immediate problem.
Avoid painting period furniture, such as a 1940s serpentine mahogany desk, with light colors. The pieces were often finished in stain that contained aniline dyes, which cast a pinkish bleed-through under light paint. Not every piece of furniture is suitable for upcycling with a light paint color. Pine, mahogany, and furniture of the 1940s and 50s are a red flag.
Last, not all manufacturers' topcoats are compatible with other finishes and may react with a color change. Always follow best practices by not rushing, and testing to your satisfaction first.
Knots in wood tend to bleed and are dense, making paint and stain adhesion a challenge. Stain Blocker may improve adhesion and prevent bleed-through for painting projects. Pine knots are especially difficult to cover with white or light paints. If you decide to paint over them, apply 3 coats of Stain Blocker first; however, we cannot guarantee adhesion or bleed-through blockage. You are better off using a dark paint on pine.
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 thoroughlybefore using.
If your product hasa 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.
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:
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.
Keep lid closed while working. Pour what you will use into a bowl, paper cup, or plate, and close can lid as you work.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Do not use water-based products with Linseed Oils or Danish Oils.
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.
Satin, Semi-Gloss, Gloss:
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: This product can expose you to 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 1,4-Dioxane, Ethylbenzene, Dibromoacetonitrile, which are known to the State of California to cause cancer. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov.
WARNING HARMFUL IF SWALLOWED. CAUSES RESPIRATORY TRACT, EYE AND SKIN IRRITATION.
Satin, Semi-Gloss, Gloss:
WARNING HARMFUL IF SWALLOWED. MAY CAUSE EYE IRRITATION.
Keep out of 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.
Water White in can (dries clear)
Dead Flat (<5), Flat (10 or less), Satin (25-35), Semi-Gloss (50-60), Gloss (80+)
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.
There are several techniques by Jeff Jewitt of Homestead Finishing Products:
DRY BUFF WITH MIRKA ROYAL MICRO PAPER.
Using Mirka Royal Micro sandpaper, always start with 1500-grit sandpaper. Begin with a small area, make 2-3 passes, then evaluate results. Go to a heavier grit if surface irregularities are not fully removed. Finish with 1500-grit paper.
DRY/WET BUFF WITH ABRALON POLISHING DISCS.
Start by dry sanding with Abralon 2000-grit, and then 4000-grit. Start slowly, monitor to see if buildup is occurring. A large sized table might take 5-25 sheets of paper.
If lubricated, one sheet of 1000-grit or 1500-grit should do the entire table.
BUFFING/POLISHING WITH PRESTA POLISHING KITS.
Spray Presta polish on buffing pad stuff to lubricate the pad. Apply a quarter-sized dab of polish to sand one section. Spread with pad. Continue section by section. Mist buffing pad with Presta lubricating material when it gets too dry. You should be able to use a buffing pad on 10-20 tables before washing and reusing.
When done, mist entire surface with and buff with a micro-cloth to remove splatter
It is normal to see a bit of stain on the brush when applying the first coat of topcoat. Topcoats often pull a bit of color on the first pass, but good preparation will minimize this.
To prepare open grains woods such as raw Oak for a water-based stain, we recommend sanding with 180-grit followed by no more than 220-grit sandpaper.
300-grit or 400-grit sandpaper is too fine for preparing raw wood. Too fine of a grit changes the wood from a porous surface to one that is too smooth to absorb the stain, which causes the first top coat application to pull excessive color (it is like trying to apply stain to glass).
There is always a small amount of color pull when using water-based stains, but the smooth surface escalates this condition. This was evident in the areas that you used the brush to remove excess topcoat.
All bright white paint will yellow slightly with time, even without topcoat. You have probably tried to touch up white woodwork in your home after several years and noticed that the new paint is brighter.
But white and light paints can react if clear coated with a waterbased finish; water-based topcoats are reactive and may draw out substances in the wood such as tannins, dyes or unknown substances in existing finishes causing the topcoat to yellow. This is an industry-wide issue and can happen right away, years later or never.
There is no way to reliably predict yellowing ahead of time. Every existing finish is different and we rarely know the finishing provenance on a previously finished piece. Every tree is different; every piece of wood is unique. Wood can bleed tannins immediately after the topcoat dries or months later with a change in temperature that comes with a change in seasons. Oak, pine, mahogany, and Douglas Fir are particularly prone to bleed-through.
Throughout all of our testing, General Finishes water-based topcoats are clear drying over a non-reactive substrate such as plastic or metal but when applied to something as unpredictable as wood, it is best to play it safe.
To reduce the occurrence of yellowing, we formulated Stain Blocker, a chemical stain and tannin blocking primer, and Brushable White Enamel. But the safest route is no use of topcoat over whites and light paint. As all of our white pigmented paints are self-sealing and do not require a topcoat, we warn users as follows:
CAUTION: Do NOT use any water-based clear coat over bright whites such as GF Snow White Milk Paint, or GF White Poly as it may cause yellowing. Lighter-colored paints may alter slightly with a topcoat application, but the color shift is less noticeable. Any clear coat can become reactive over wood substrates or existing finishes, causing tannin or dye bleed-though regardless of priming. All of GF's white paints do NOT require a topcoat.
TIPS FOR PROTECTING YOURSELF AND PREVENTING YELLOWING
Don't apply any clear coat when using light or white paints. Topcoat is perfectly fine over darker colors.
Always prime white paint with a paint system: Gf recommends either 2 coats of Stain Blocker or White Undercoat.
Over raw wood: Apply two coats of Stain Blocker or Enduro White Undercoat, then 1-2 coats of Brushable White Enamel, White Poly (spray only), or Milk Paint.
Over an existing finish: Apply two coats of Stain Blocker, then 1-2 coats of Brushable White Enamel, White Poly (spray only), or Milk Paint. Always let any primer dry overnight. Many primers suggest a 3-hour dry time and that is not enough.
We offer three types of self-sealing pigmented paint.
Milk Paint: A clear topcoat is not required on our Milk Paint for increased durability. It is a self-sealing, exterior rated coating with very high-performance properties. However, higher sheen topcoats provide a smoother surface that is easier to clean for high use projects such as tabletops and kitchen cabinets.
Topcoat is fine for darker colors, but not for light or white Milk Paint. In those cases, use Brushable White Enamel (available in Satin or Semigloss) or spray our pigmented White Poly (available in Flat Satin or Semigloss.)
Enduro White Poly: Use a professional sprayable "white coat" such as our professional Enduro White Poly. It is a white paint with "increased topcoat properties", is a stand-alone finish when 3 coats are applied and does not require sealing with a topcoat.
Brushable White Enamel was developed as a stand-alone finish for those who want a bright white but do not use spray equipment.
Use disclaimers in your contracts. Upcharge for the extra coats needed and never guarantee a white finish over a piece when the customer wants a topcoat. Here is a suggestion for your contracts:
Terms of Agreement and Warranties: ________ (Initials) I have been informed that more coats are required when painting with bright whites, reds, greens or yellows. I understand that white paint can yellow over time and water-based topcoats can react with the substrate or existing finish under white paints causing yellowing, even if a stain-blocking primer is used. I have been informed that topcoat over white or light paints should NOT be used.
Always test your project's ENTIRE finishing schedule (from cleaning to topcoat) on an inside door or a more hidden area of the piece. This does not help if the yellowing occurs later but you will at least know if there is an immediate problem.
If you are working on period pieces such as a 1940's serpentine mahogany desk which were often finished in stain containing aniline dyes that cast a pinkish bleed-through under light paint, stay away from light colors. Not every piece of furniture is suitable for up-cycling with a light paint color. Pine, Mahogany, and furniture of the 1940's and 50's are a red flag.
Last, not all manufacturer's topcoats are compatible with other finishes and may react with a color change. Always follow best practices by not rushing, and testing to your satisfaction first.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WHITE PAINT:
Bright white paints can yellow over time with or without topcoat. It is the nature of oxidation.
The underlying finish or wood species can affect the final color of light paint.
Details and inside corners are difficult to cover with any paint color, but this property tends to be more noticeable with whites. This is a naturally occurring phenomenon in paint application and does not necessarily constitute a defect in the paint finish or your technique.
The more porous the paint (chalk paint vs an acrylic paint), the more likely that yellowing will occur. The topcoat is actually seeping through the spaces caused by the larger particles of filler that give chalk style paints their texture.
Whites have a lower “hide” quality and are more transparent than other colors. Most bright whites require additional coats to achieve the desired color and minimize color variation. This can increase the cost of paint finishing. Always include a clause in your contracts addressing the need for additional coats to achieve coverage.
IF YOU ARE A PAINTING PROFESSIONAL, DO NOT CARRY THE COST OF WHITE PAINT YOURSELF – include the cost of the increased labor for applying white paints with a fair, reasonable up-charge. White paints, even if they did not yellow, require more coats and high-quality primers to achieve coverage. See our video How to Achieve a Bright White Finish that Lasts for more information.
If your white cabinets have yellowed, we recommend prep cleaning and scuff sanding, applying a coat of General Finishes Stain Blocker primer, finish sand and re-coat with another coat of paint.
Sand down the final finish with a 220-grit foam sanding pad, and then add another layer of General Finishes High Performance PolyurethaneTopcoat. Apply liberally than you did previously without heavy back-brushing.
Let the topcoat self-level a bit - it will tighten down as it dries.
If it's above 80°F or if the humidity is less than 70% in the space you're working, we recommend adding 10% GF Extender to the topcoat to improve open time.
SPRAY APPLICATION OF GENERAL FINISHES WATER-BASED FINISHES:
All General Finishes water-based topcoats and wood stains are ready to spray from the container without additives with the exception of Conversion Varnish. Always strain material through a medium to fine mesh filter before spraying. If necessary, in hot or dry climates, reduce 10 to 15% with General Finishes Extender to extend the open time.
Softwoods such as Pine absorb stain at an uneven rate and may respond better to staining if the wood is pre-sealed. General Finishes Pre-Stain Conditioner Natural can be applied to raw wood to condition the surface for uniform penetration of the stain. Pre-sealing will cause the final stain to be lighter so you may need to use a darker color. Always test your color on a hidden part of the furniture. Allow the Pre-Stain Conditioner to dry 30 minutes before applying your final stain color.
If you are using a sprayer that has been used for oil-based or lacquers, clean the unit thoroughly with acetone followed with hot water to purge the fluid passage. Apply a thin coat first that will dry and harden faster. Sand this first coat down to a smooth base on which to build your finish coats with a 220-320 grade foam sanding pad or #400-grit sandpaper. It is better to spray 2 thin coats rather than 1 heavy coat.
Contact your supplier to verify proper tip sizes for your specific equipment. GF's general recommended fluid tips for Wood Stains and Top Coats are Compressed air - .040 and Airless - .009.
This PDF lists general guidelines for several different types of sprayers with specific General Finishes product recommendations for HVLP listed below.
RECOMMENDED TIPS FOR GENERAL FINISHES PRODUCTS USING HVLP:
Milk Paint: 1.8mm-2.0mm
Brushable White Enamel 1.8mm-2.0mm
Stain Blocker: 1.8mm-2.0mm
Pearl Effects: 1.8mm-2.0mm
Glaze Effects: 1.8mm-2.0mm
High-Performance Topcoat: 1.1mm-1.3mm
Flat Out Flat Top Coat: 1.1mm-1.3mm
Water-Based Wood Stain: 1.1mm-1.3mm
Water-Based Dye Stain: 1.1mm-1.3mm
Exterior 450 Topcoat:1.1mm-1.3mm
Exterior 450 Stain: 1.1mm-1.3mm
Enduro Sanding Sealer: 1.3-1.4mm
Enduro White Poly: 1.3mm-1.5mm
Enduro Black Poly: 1.3mm-1.5mm
Enduro White Under Coat 1.5mm-1.8mm
Enduro Clear Poly: 1.1mm-1.3mm
Enduro Pre Cat Lacquer: 1.1mm-1.3mm
Enduro Conversion Varnish: 1.1mm-1.3mm
Air caps should be medium size. Contact your supplier to verify proper tip sizes for your specific equipment.
Break your work into sections such as dresser top or drawer fronts. Spraying too large of an area can result in a textured grainy surface. A correctly sprayed finish should appear even and glossy. It is important to spray enough material to allow proper flow and leveling of the finish.
Spray medium wet films at 3-5 wet ml thickness. Practice makes perfect. If you have never sprayed finishes before, take a large piece of cardboard and practice your technique first. Spray water on the cardboard to learn how the gun works. Check your fluid settings and adjust the controls to get comfortable with the spray angles and to develop your technique.
Keep your gun at a 90* angle, 6-8" from the surface. On large flat areas, use wet, even patterns 6 to 8 wide. For narrow surfaces, reduce the fan pattern to 2-3" to reduce overspray. For topcoats, overlap each pass 25% to conceal lines.
Keep your gun at a 90* angle, 6-8" from the surface. On large flat areas, use wet, even patterns 6 to 8 wide. For narrow surfaces, reduce the fan pattern to 2-3" to reduce overspray. Overlap each pass of stain 50% for even coverage and wipe back the excess with an absorbent cloth. For narrow surfaces, reduce the fan pattern to 2-3" to reduce overspray.
SPRAYING WATER BASED DYE STAINS:
Keep your gun at a 90* angle, 6-8" from the surface. On large flat areas, use wet, even patterns 6 to 8 wide. For narrow surfaces, reduce the fan pattern to 2-3" to reduce overspray. Overlap each pass of stain 50% for even coverage. If coverage is even, there is no need to wipe. If you have issues with uneven coverage, wipe back the excess with an absorbent cloth. For narrow surfaces, reduce the fan pattern to 2-3" to reduce overspray.
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.
The term for a cloudy, milky appearance in the finish is Blush. There are three causes:
1. The most common reason is an incompatible stain. For example, using a water-based topcoat over an oil-based based stain. When the top coat is applied, the oil in the stain seeps up through the finish and reacts with the acrylic causing a chemical blush.
To prevent this, either use a quick-drying water-based stain or allow the oil-based stain to dry for 72 hours. You can also seal an oil-based stain with a coat of shellac or lacquer sealer to provide a barrier between the oil and the acrylic.
2. Another cause for blushing is high humidity. Applying a water-based finish in humidities of over 75% may cause blushing because moisture becomes trapped beneath the finish and cannot evaporate.
You can prevent this condition by increasing air movement in the finishing area with a fan. All water needs to evaporate is sufficient air movement. You can also improve drying conditions by increasing the temperature in the drying area.
3. Another common cause is a wet object or a water spill left two long on the surface. In most cases, the white mark will recover and fade within an hour if the spill is cleaned up in a timely manner. If the water has been sitting on that area for an extended period of time then it might not be able to bounce back.
To fix this, the surface needs to be scuffed and sanded first. Second, we recommend applying a sanding sealer to protect the top. Sanding sealer has a larger resin particle, so it will provide a better build for the next sanding step. Then finish with your topcoat.
This is a guesstimate as GF cannot assist with the performance of another manufacturer's product used in conjunction with our own finishes.
It looks like Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is absorbing some of the topcoat because it is so porous. High Performance does not streak over a sealed surface when properly applied. Most likely the chalk paint is so dry it is pulling some of the solvents away from the High Performance, causing an uneven finish or the appearance of streaking. This happens on the original powder Chalk or Milk Paints also.
Possible solution: Porous paints such as chalk paint may require additional coats of High Performance Topcoat to seal off the paint. If the first coat absorbs into the paint it will require multiple coats of High Performance to build a film of sealer above the paint. Using a foam brush will accent the streaking due to the number of strokes needed. We suggest a fairly liberal application with a large applicator such as a foam roller or a pad applicator.
Always test before proceeding with the entire project when using General Finishes projects with other manufacturer's products.
GF recommends using the least expensive product that will provide the needed performance characteristics. We offer a range of products designed for professional spray applications and brush-on finishes for consumer use.
Looking for hardness, clarity and fast stack time? Pre Cat Lacquer is the choice. Use in applications where there is little risk of chemical contamination issues from substances such as ketchup, soap, chemical cleaners, or ammonia. This is the perfect spray finish for interior doors, casing, moldings, door jambs and furniture that receives light use. When you think about it, interior doors don't take a lot of wear. You might wipe them down or dust them once in a while but that is about it. PreCat Lacquer is a hard finish that provides excellent build and superior clarity at a phenomenal price point. If you are not finishing a surface such as a tabletop where you anticipate chemical contamination during use, why pay for a more expensive finish?
Poly is the go-to cabinet finish. It has all the durability you need at a lower price point than Conversion Varnish. It is similar to High Performance in test measurements for chemical, water and wear resistance, but HP can be brushed and Clear Poly can't - it is already thinned for spraying. Clear Poly has a bit of an edge over High Performance in overall chemical resistance, a 98 rating vs 92.
This is our top of the line. Conversion Varnish is a post catalyzed high solids, two component urethane formulated for professionals who need the highest level of durability and chemical resistance. Varnish will cure the fastest. Requires NCO Catalyst. It is recommended for commercial applications or extremely high-wear surfaces such as countertops and bar tops
Flat Out Flat is formulated with a self cross-linking acrylic, and is designed to mimic the look and feel of a wax finish. Because of the increased matting agents used to create the "Flat look", this finish will have less clarity. Like wax, it dries softer to the touch than High Performance when completely cured, and will show more fingerprints. FOF finish will mark up more easily because of increased matting agents used to reduce the sheen, so it is not recommended for high-use tabletops.
Enduro-Var is an oil modified water-based alternative for customers that want the warm look of an oil finish in a water based coating. It looks more like an oil finish than a water coating, and can be sprayed or brushed. The original Enduro-Var adheres well ONLY over WATER STAINS, DYE STAINS, and RAW WOOD. Use over other finishes at your own risk. The new formula of Enduro-Var II is compatible with all GF products and dries to a lighter amber than the previous formula.
Exterior 450 provides a clear drying tough, protective finish that will withstand the rigors of the sun, rain, and wind. It is suitable for vertical surfaces such as fences, patio furniture, garage doors, entrance doors, outdoor kitchens and interior windows. It is not recommended as a deck finish. Fortified with UV absorbers to stabilize the finish, Exterior 450's built-in mildewcide retards mold and mildew growth.
One of the causes of orange peel is the application of too much fluid and not enough atomization to break the product up into smaller droplets. It's similar to putting your finger over the end of a garden hose. Increase the atomization by using smaller fluid tips or a larger spray unit. See General Finishes comparison chart for generally recommended spray tips. Contact your spray equipment manufacturer's recommendations as well.
Another cause can be temperature. Refinishing furniture in a space that is below or above the 65-75 degrees F range can lead to problems, and a space below 55 degrees F is definitely too cold.
The popular flat sheens are lovely but they have different attributes than glossy finishes. The flatting agents required to reduce sheen in flat or matte topcoats also slightly reduce clarity, water resistance, durability and resistance to chemicals such as ketchup, soap, chemical cleaners, or ammonia. This is not much of a concern in low use areas but is important for table tops or kitchen cabinets.
Here is a tip to improve the performance of your finish and still obtain a matte sheen:
Use a semi-gloss sheen for the first two coats and a flat for the third for optimum performance.
General Finishes is constantly seeking new resins and additives to improve the performance of our finishes.
Flat Out Flat is a matte water based topcoat with a velvety feel and was developed as a durable alternative to our Satin Wax. Choose this product if you want a finish that looks more like wax and your project will not require high use. Like wax, it dries softer to the touch than High Performance when completely cured, and it will show more marring and fingerprints. Flat Out Flat is made with a stable self cross-linking acrylic instead of urethane. High Performance is urethane based and contains less matting agents which result in a slightly harder finish. For that reason, High Performance is the best choice for high use areas such as table tops and kitchen cabinets. Both topcoats have similar water resistance, but High Performance offers greater clarity. Use with Oil Based Finishes: Let oil-based finishes dry for 72 hours before applying High Performance or Flat Out Flat top coat.
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 and High Performance are both Urethane/Acrylic blends.
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.
Toning is the process of adding colorant, either dye or pigmented stain into a top coat and then applying over an entire piece in order to subtly deepen the color. All of our stains can be used: Stock base colors of RTM, Water-Based Wood Stains or Dye stains. If you are new to toning, we recommend starting with Dyes stains, which can be easier to use as they only contain dyes and no pigments.
All of General Finishes water-based topcoats with the exception of Conversion Vanish can be tinted to create lightly colored finishes for toning. It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO TEST to your satisfaction before application to your entire project.
There are limits anytime you add pigments or dyes to water-based topcoats. Toning should always be done in small increments to achieve the desired color. If you are starting with a light honey tone door and you want to create an Espresso color this will take multiple coats of color including base coat of stain followed by several toning coats. It is impossible to achieve a radical change in color in coat application.
A good rule to follow when toning is starting with a minimal amount of stain or dye, 5-10% by volume. Some colors work better than others. Normally 1-2 ounces or stain per quart of clear topcoat is sufficient to create a toner. Always test color first and strain material through a fine mesh filter to remove any undissolved particle of pigment. Once you have achieved the desired color tone apply a clear topcoat to lock in the color. Toner made with water based wood stain should be used at point of use only. Do not store for extended periods of time.
Until now, Matte sheens always came with a compromise in durability. Consumers have been asking for an ultra-flat topcoat that is as durable as our other sheens, and we are finally able to deliver!
Thanks to brand new patented polymer technology, we are now able to create a Matte sheen without waxes and matting agents that decrease durability.
All of our testing shows High Performance Dead Flat is as durable as High Performance Satin, which is a drastic improvement over Flat Out Flat topcoat.
Flat: (degree sheen)
Flat Out Flat: <5
High Performance Dead Flat: <5
Water Resistance: (max 5)
Flat Out Flat: 2
High Performance, Dead Flat: 4
Chemical Resistance: (0-100)
Flat Out Flat: 82
High Performance, Dead Flat: 92
Scratch Resistance and Marring:
Scratch Resistance is strong with both products.
Marring is better than Flat Out Flat and comparable to the Satin and Flat.
High Performance vs. Clear Poly
The main differentiator between these products is that Clear Poly is a spray-only product and High Performance can be applied with a brush or sprayed. Clear Poly is popular among high production contractors but both products produce professional results.
Patented self-matting polyurethane
Uses renewable resources, with no Prop 65 chemicals
Meets KCMA standards
VOC compliant nationwide
Warning: Do Not Mix!
Topcoat with a Dead Flat sheen CAN NOT be mixed with another sheen because a completely different polymer is used and the combined formulas will not perform well as one.
Leaders in Water-Based Finishing Innovation
General Finishes actively works to improve our products on an ongoing basis. As new finishing technology is released, we test and experiment to stay on the leading edge. Our chemist travels around the world and is sent new ingredients when they are discovered on a regular basis. We are one of the rare companies capable of incorporating new innovations and ingredients into our products, no expense spared, because of our dedication to staying on the leading edge and providing the highest quality product on the market.
High Performance Dead Flat is available in pints, quarts and gallons. Clear Poly Dead Flat is available in gallons. 5-gallon pails may be delayed due to label production and Canadian labels are pending translations.
Oil based topcoats and Enduro-Var will amber over time.
Water based Flat Out Flat and High Performance top coats dry clear.
Never use any water based topcoat with long oils such as Danish, Tung or Linseed.
Water based top coats clean up with water. Oil based topcoats require mineral spirits for clean up.
Original formula of Enduro-Var ADHERES WELL only over WATER STAINS, DYE STAINS, and RAW WOOD. The new formula of Enduro-Var II is compatible with all GF products.
If you use water based topcoats over oil based finishes, make sure that you wait 72 hours between the two products. It is essential to let the oil finish dry longer.
For more complex projects that have a lot of nooks and crannies or projects with large surface areas such as cabinets, we recommend either ARM-R-SEAL liquid oil based topcoat or any of our water based topcoats. Large surfaces such as cabinets or tables and complex projects with lots of detail are easier to cover with liquid topcoat rather than a Gel top coat.
Enduro Professional Topcoats are thinner and intended to be sprayed
High Performance and Flat Out Flat can also be sprayed. If needed, it can be thinned by adding 5-10% distilled water.