High Performance Water Based Topcoat

Winner of Fine Woodworking's "Best Overall Choice Award," High Performance Topcoat was voted as the hardest, most durable consumer polyurethane topcoat.

Need some inspiration? Visit the General Finishes Design Center or Pinterest Board for water-based wood finishes ideas.

 

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General Finishes Satin High Performance Water Based Topcoat, Quart

Instructions

Step 1: Preparation

All wood projects require preparation sanding, and all existing finishes require prep cleaning and sanding. If you skip this critical step, your finish may fail.

Preparation for Raw Wood or Raw Wood Projects That Are to be Stained 
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 over-sand with fine-grit sandpapers; this will close and seal the wood grain, preventing ideal color absorption.
  5. 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 Finish (Sealed Surface)
For high-use areas with heavy grime build-up and oil from hands, give your project a deeper cleaning.
See our video: How to Prepare Existing Finishes

  1. Scuff clean with a Scotch Brite pad and a 50:50 mix of denatured alcohol and water. Dry 1-2 hours. Avoid cleaning with products containing phosphates (salt), which can linger in the substrate and produce a white haze. If your project requires a deeper cleaning, see Power Prep Cleaning Highly Used Existing Finishes below.
  2. Sand lightly with a fine-grade (220-320) foam sanding pad.
  3. Remove dust with a vacuum, compressed air, an oil-free tack cloth or a water-dampened rag.
  4. Let dry completely before applying General Finishes product.

Power Prep Cleaning Highly Used Existing Finishes
For high-use areas such as kitchen cabinets or table tops with heavy grime build-up and oil from hands, give your project a "Power" clean. See our video: How to Power Prep Existing High Use Finishes for Stain or Paint

  1. Scrub clean with a detergent, such as Spic and Span or Dawn, using a Scotch Brite pad.
  2. Rinse well with water.
  3. Scrub clean with a Scotch Brite pad and a 50:50 mix of denatured alcohol and water. Dry 1-2 hours.
  4. Sand lightly with a fine-grade (220-320) foam sanding pad.
  5. Remove dust with a vacuum, compressed air, an oil-free tack cloth or a water-dampened rag.
  6. Let dry completely before applying General Finishes product.

Alternative Cleaning Solutions For Existing Finishes (Not as aggressive or effective as denatured alcohol; requires rinsing.) 

  • 50:50 mix of bleach and water 
  • 50:50 mix of vinegar and water
  • Mineral spirits can be used when working with water-based products, but only if the surface is thoroughly rinsed and allowed to dry for 72 hours.
  • If you use with products containing phosphates (salt), which can linger in the substrate and produce a white haze, be sure to rinse thoroughly.

Step 2: How To Apply General Finishes High Performance

General Finishes High Performance Water Based Topcoat Application Steps

  1. Stir topcoat to reincorporate solids that have settled to the bottom of the can before and throughout the application process.
  2. If desired, thin with up to 15% distilled water or General Finishes Extender. Start by adding 5% in increments until you reach the desired consistency. GF Extender will improve flow and leveling and increase open time, which is helpful in dry climates. 
  3. Apply 3 coats of High Performance. 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.
  4. If a faster build is desired over raw wood, use General Finishes Sanding Sealer for the first coat, followed by 2 coats of High Performance Topcoat.
  5. Dry 2+ hours between coats in ideal conditions: 70°F 20°C; 50-70% 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.
  6. Finish sand between coats with a fine-grade (220-320) foam sanding pad to improve smoothness and adhesion.
  7. Remove dust with a vacuum, compressed air, an oil-free tack cloth or a water-dampened rag.

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.

Tips to prevent streaking during hand-application:
See our video: How to Prevent Streaking with Water Based Topcoat

  • 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.

Mixing Sheens
You mix can High Performance Topcoat sheens to adjust your sheen. For example, you can mix High Performace Flat and High Performance Gloss to obtain a different sheen.

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

Yellowing & Clear Topcoat

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.

Summary

  • 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 General Finishes Chalk Style 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 Style 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.
  • We recommend using General Finishes Stain Blocker, an engineered chemical barrier, to prevent persistent bleed-through for interior-use projects.
    • 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
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.

Cleanup of Water Based Products

Application tools and materials containing water-based products can be cleaned with soap and water or GF 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

Life of Product
Water-based products do not last forever, even when unopened. General Finishes products are best used within 1 year of the manufacture date listed on the bottom of the can. The life of the product may be extended with proper care and storage.

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 paint, use 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.

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. Paint in 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 80°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.
  • 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

Compatibility: 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, including compatibility with other manufacturers products. General Finishes will be responsible only for the cost of our products and will not be responsible for any costs such as labor, damage, or replacement costs.

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. 

Danger: Contents are COMBUSTIBLE. Keep away from heat and open flame. Application materials or other waste soaked with this product may spontaneously catch fire if improperly discarded. Immediately after use, place rags, steel wool or waste in a sealed, water-filled, metal container. Dispose of in accordance with local fire regulations.

CAUTION: Contains ALIPHATIC HYDROCARBONS. VAPOR HARMFUL. Use only with adequate ventilation. DELAYED EFFECTS FROM LONG-TERM OVEREXPOSURE. Contains solvents which can cause permanent brain and nervous system damage. Intentional misuse by deliberately concentrating & inhaling the contents can be harmful or fatal.

Warning
If you scrape, sand, or remove old paint, you may release lead dust. LEAD IS TOXIC. EXPOSURE TO LEAD DUST CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ILLNESS, SUCH AS BRAIN DAMAGE, ESPECIALLY IN CHILDREN. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD ALSO AVOID EXPOSURE. Wear a NIOSH-approved respirator to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself and your family by contacting the National Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log onto www.epa.gov/lead.

Do not swallow; first aid: drink water to dilute product. May cause eye and skin irritation; first aid: flush eyes thoroughly with water.

FIRST AID: In case of eye contact, flush thoroughly with large amounts of water for 15 minutes and get medical attention. For skin contact, wash thoroughly with soap and water. In case of respiratory difficulty, provide fresh air and call physician. If swallowed, do not induce vomiting. Get medical attention immediately. 

Warning
This product contains a chemical known to the State Of California to cause cancer and birth defects. Do not swallow; first aid: drink water to dilute product. May cause eye or skin irritation; first aid: flush eyes thoroughly with water.

Specifications

Basic Features
Product Colors Water White in can (dries clear)
Base Type Water
Ambering No
Sheen Flat (5-10), Satin (25-35), Semi-Gloss (50-60), Gloss (85+)
Interior or Exterior Interior only
Type Urethane/Acrylic Blend
Application
Coats 3 coats
Application Method Brush, Roll, Spray
Brushable Yes
Usable over existing finishes Yes
Sprayable Yes
Spray Tip Sizes HVLP 1.1mm-1.3mm
Dry Time
Dry Time - Touch 30+ min.
Dry Time - Recoat 2+ hr
Dry Time - Light Use 7-10 days
Dry Time - Cure 21 days
Contents
Can Sizes Pints, Quarts, Gallons, 5 Gallon pails
Coverage 65-75 sq.ft./pint, 125-150 sq.ft./quart, 500-600 sq.ft./gallon
Technical Data
Viscosity Medium
Viscosity (cPs) 350-450
Weight Solids 25%
VOC Flat: 170 g/L
Satin: 172 g/L
Semi-Gloss: 173 g/L
Gloss: 250 g/L
Durability
Durability (Highest, High, Medium, Low) High
Hardness (Koenig #) 59
Wear (Taber #) 34.40 mg loss
Water (5 max) 4
Chemical (105 max) 93

Videos

FAQs

High Performance Topcoat FAQs

What is the difference between Flat Out Flat and High Performance Topcoats?

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. 

 

Relevant Videos

Why did the finish on my piece become cloudy after top coating the Milk Paint with High Performance?

The term for a cloudy, milky appearance in the finish is Blush. There are two common causes.

  1. The most common reason is incompatible stain. For example, using a water based top coat over a heavy oil 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 and oil stain with a coat of shellac or lacquer sealer to providea barrier between the oil and the acrylic.
  2. Another cause for blushing is high humidity. Applying 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. And a common cause is a wet object or 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. The fix: The table 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.

 

Relevant Videos

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.

 

Relevant Videos

Can High Performance be used instead of Modge Podge?

No, it is too thin. And High Performance is not thick enough for transfers either. Stick with Modge Podge.

Relevant Videos

*Why is High Performance Streaking When Applied over Annie Sloan Chalk Paint?

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.

 

Relevant Videos

Can I use a cross linker with High Performance Topcoat to improve performance?

GF has improved the High Performance formula and Cross Linker would not provide an added benefit.

Relevant Videos

How do I correct color lift when applying High Performance over GF Water Based Dye Stains?

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 ont he 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. 300/400 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.

See recommended sanding schedules here: https://generalfinishes.com/faq/what-grit-should-i-use-for-prep-sanding-raw

Here are some options to try. Always test a small area before proceeding with your entire project.

  1. Toning: Lightly sand the light areas with a 220 grit sanding foam PAD to open up the pores of the wood. Create a toning mix of 10-20% dye stain to 80-90% topcoat. Using a small brush, apply this mix over the light areas to blend with the darker areas. Let this dry 3-4 hours. Then apply another coat of the mix over the entire surface. If this is successful, then apply 2-3 coats of the topcoat. 
  2. Glaze the light areas. This will change the look of your doors, but it is an easier remedy.
  3. Optimally, you should sand down to bare wood and start over with this prep sanding schedule. You can apply the dye stain directly to the wood, or mix in 10% top coat to help lock in the color.

 

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Can I use a steam mop on floors finished with High Performance topcoat?

Floors sealed with High Performance Top Coat can be cleaned with Bona floor cleaning system or a similar product. We do not recommend using a steam mop because steam can damage the wood. 

Relevant Videos

How do I buff out High Performance water based topcoat to a high gloss?

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 then 4000. Start slowly, monitor to see if buildup is occurring. A large sized table might take 5-25 sheets of paper.  If needed, lubricate by moistening with GF Satin Wax, mineral spirits, or naphtha. Never use water as a lubicant. If lubricated, one sheet of 1000 or 1500 should do the entire table.

Buffing/Polishing with Presta

You can use Presta's 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

NOTE: Never wet sand a water-based finish.

 

Relevant Videos

*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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*What is the Best Applicator to use for Milk Paint and Water Based Topcoat?

Either bristle or foam brushes will work well with Milk Paint and Top Coat. The folks at GF might use several types of brushes for a project.

For example:

  • We like to use a bristle brush (which loads up more paint) to get Milk Paint on the surface, and then use a water or Extender dampened foam brush to smooth out the finish.​
  • ​​​​​​Bristle brushes are particularly helpful on vertical and detailed surfaces but they can produce subtle texture.
  • Foam brushes tend to produce a smoother finish which can be particularly helpful on flat horizontal surfaces.
  • Pad Applicators or paint rollers are also helpful on larger horizontal surfaces such as a table top.

For folks who don't want to invest in several brushes, the foam brush is our recommendation.

The very best application method is spraying.

 

Relevant Videos

*Can I Mix General Finishes Flat Out Flat and High Performance Topcoat?

No, you should not mix Flat Out Flat and High Performance topcoats. They are engineered with different resin systems.

You can mix High Performance topcoats to adjust sheen. For example, you can mix HP Flat and HP gloss to obtain a different sheen.

Relevant Videos

*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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Relevant Videos

*How Do I Prevent Water Based Topcoat or Light Colored Paint from Yellowing?

All bright white paint will yellow slightly with time, with or without topcoat. Water-based topcoats are reactive and more likely to draw out substances in the wood such as tannins or unknown substances in existing finishes causing the topcoat to yellow. This is an industry-wide issue and we have added warning labels regarding the yellowing of topcoats to our bright white paints, Snow White Milk Paint and Chalk White Chalk Style Paint.

General Finishes background was originally on the professional side, and the incidences of yellowing topcoat over white paint were almost nil, and when our sprayable professional finish, Enduro White Poly, is used, there have been no incidences. But as the use of our paints has increased in the up-cycling and furniture refresh markets, we have heard more reports of our topcoat yellowing. Our original response was to teach about prepping, testing your finish schedule and finally creating Stain Blocker, our stain and tannin blocking primer, but this is not enough. Just as we advocate prepping all finishes, we are now advocating NOT using a clear water base topcoat over BRIGHT WHITE paint.

We are listening and General Finishes is in the process of developing a brushable version of our professional Enduro White Poly (available only in gallons), but that will take some time and rigorous testing before we can release the product. Here is what you should know to protect yourself and also some immediate suggestions to decrease chances of yellowing.

There is no way to reliably predict yellowing ahead of time. Sometimes yellowing occurs, sometimes it does not. 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. 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 Douglass Fur are particularly prone to bleed-through.

As is true of most "water-white" topcoats, our High Performance Water-Based topcoat is a clear drying finish over a non-reactive substrate such as plastic. When white paint sealed with a water-white topcoat is applied to something as unpredictable as wood, all bets are off and the reason is often unknown. Yellowing can be caused by the top coat activating the 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 the sculpted details of furniture, where the topcoat can collect, intensifying the color change to an unacceptable level.

To add to this issue, 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 that the new paint is brighter.

SUMMARY

  • Whites have a lower “hide” quality and are more transparent than most 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.
  • Bright white paints can yellow over time with or without topcoat.
  • 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.

DO NOT CARRY THE COST OF WHITE PAINT YOURSELF – pass the cost on to the consumer who wants it with a fair upcharge. White paints, even if they did not yellow, require more coats to achieve coverage.

TIPS FOR PROTECTING YOURSELF AND PREVENTING YELLOWING

  1. Use a disclaimer in your contracts or recommend a softer white such as Antique White or Linen. Upcharge for the extra coats needed and never guarantee a white finish over a piece that you cannot trace the provenance on. 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 yellow. I understand that white paint can yellow over time and water-based topcoats can occasionally react with the substrate or existing finish under white paints causing yellowing, even is a stain blocking primer is used.
  2. If it is a low use project, use a premium white paint that is self-sealing and does not require a topcoat. A clear top coat is not required on our Milk Paint for increased durability, as it is a self-sealing, exterior rated coating with very high durability and performance properties. However, top coats provide a smoother surface that is easier to clean and boost durability for high use projects such as table tops and kitchen cabinets.
  3. Get a spray gun and use a professional "white coat" such as our 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.
  4. If you are still brushing, try a couple of our customer's techniques. 1) Add 10-15% of the paint you are using to the first application of topcoat. The last two layers of topcoat should NOT have paint in it, to maintain durability. This technique can be used with any color, not just white, and really boosts bright colors. 2) Use a coat of light gray over a lacquer based primer before applying white paint. We have good reports of these 2 techniques from customers BUT HAVE NOT TESTED IN OUR LAB. (Alternatively, GF prefers the use of Stain blocker without grey paint.)
  5. 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.
  6. Always apply a stain-blocking primer under white or light-colored paint such as GF Stain Blocker or a shellac based primer. Always let any primer dry overnight. Some of the primers we have seen suggest a 3-hour dry time and that is not enough.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

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*How to Spray Water Based Finishes

General Finishes water-based products can be sprayed through compressed air, HVLP, airless or C.A.S. units.

SURFACE PREPARATION:

All surfaces should be clean and free from dirt and oil and sanded.

Indicated below are instructional videos we have for preparing a surface for a new coat of paint or finish:

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.

PRE SEALING:

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. 

RECOMMENDED TIPS FOR GENERAL FINISHES PRODUCTS USING HVLP:

  • Milk Paint: 1.8mm-2.0mm
  • Chalk Paint: 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
  • Enduro-Var  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.

SPRAYING TOPCOATS:

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.

Watch our video how to spray water based topcoats here.

SPRAYING WATER BASED WOOD 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 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. 

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*What is the Best Applicator to use for Milk Paint and Water Based Topcoat?

Either bristle or foam brushes will work well with Milk Paint and Top Coat. The folks at GF might use several types of brushes for a project.

For example:

  • We like to use a bristle brush (which loads up more paint) to get Milk Paint on the surface, and then use a water or Extender dampened foam brush to smooth out the finish.​
  • ​​​​​​Bristle brushes are particularly helpful on vertical and detailed surfaces but they can produce subtle texture.
  • Foam brushes tend to produce a smoother finish which can be particularly helpful on flat horizontal surfaces.
  • Pad Applicators or paint rollers are also helpful on larger horizontal surfaces such as a table top.

For folks who don't want to invest in several brushes, the foam brush is our recommendation.

The very best application method is spraying.

 

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*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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*Why is High Performance Streaking When Applied over Annie Sloan Chalk Paint?

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.

 

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Can General Finishes Water Based Top Coats Be Tinted?

All of General Finishes water based topcoats can be tinted to create lightly colored finishes for toning. Toning is the process of adding colorant, either dye or pigment into a top coat and then applying over an entire piece in order to subtly deepen the color.

Some tinting recommendations are:

  • Do not exceed 13 ounces per gallon. Excess amounts of colorant can create surface defects and decrease the viscosity (causing drips, sag, etc.).
  • Tinting a product black only requires about 6 to 8 ounces (based on strength of colorant).
  • Check for colorant compatibly (best to use a zero VOC colorant).
  • Tint off whites with white bases.
  • Enduro-Var top coat cannot be tinted white.
  • GF top coats can also be tinted with General Finishes Dye Stains or Trans Tint Dyes available at many woodworking and paint stores. This produces a transparent tinted finish. Normal addition is usually 2-5% by volume.

GF does not manufacturer colorants. Here are a few sources:

  • Mixol available at Woodcraft
  • Gennex by Benjamin Moore
  • Colortrend 896 or 888, 878

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Can High Performance be used instead of Modge Podge?

No, it is too thin. And High Performance is not thick enough for transfers either. Stick with Modge Podge.

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Can I create a glaze with General Finishes Water Based Stains?

General Finishes stains make beautiful glazes. Just add 10% High Performance Top Coat. 

 

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Can I use a cross linker with High Performance Topcoat to improve performance?

GF has improved the High Performance formula and Cross Linker would not provide an added benefit.

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Can I use a steam mop on floors finished with High Performance topcoat?

Floors sealed with High Performance Top Coat can be cleaned with Bona floor cleaning system or a similar product. We do not recommend using a steam mop because steam can damage the wood. 

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How can I change the sheen of the top coat? The one I just applied is too shiney.

If you want to change the sheen, you can re-coat with a different sheen over top. The second layer of top coat will replace the appearance of the first. Sand lightly with a used 220 sanding PAD to knock down the original finish before re-coating. It may take two or 3 coats to get complete coverage.

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How Do General Finishes Water Based Topcoats Differ?

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.

PROFESSIONAL TOPCOATS

PRE CAT LACQUER (Spray only)

GF recommends our recently improved Pre Cat Lacquer for applications where there is little risk of chemical contamination issues from substances such 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 table top where you anticipate chemical contamination during use, why pay for a more expensive finish?

Dries clear.

CLEAR POLY (Spray only)

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.

Dries clear.

CONVERSION VARNISH (Spray only)

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

Dries clear.

RETAIL TOPCOATS

HIGH PERFORMANCE (Brush or Spray)

GF's best performing brush on finish with very similar performance testing as our Poly. (High Performance can be thinned for spraying).

Dries clear.

FLAT OUT FLAT (Brush or Spray)

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.

Dries clear.

BOTH PROFESSIONAL AND RETAIL TOPCOATS

ENDURO-VAR (Spray or brush)

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. Enduro-Var adheres well ONLY over WATER STAINS, DYE STAINS, and RAW WOOD. Use over other finishes at your own risk.

Dries Amber

EXTERIOR 45O TOPCOAT

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.

Dries Clear

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How do I buff out High Performance water based topcoat to a high gloss?

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 then 4000. Start slowly, monitor to see if buildup is occurring. A large sized table might take 5-25 sheets of paper.  If needed, lubricate by moistening with GF Satin Wax, mineral spirits, or naphtha. Never use water as a lubicant. If lubricated, one sheet of 1000 or 1500 should do the entire table.

Buffing/Polishing with Presta

You can use Presta's 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

NOTE: Never wet sand a water-based finish.

 

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How do I correct color lift when applying High Performance over GF Water Based Dye Stains?

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 ont he 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. 300/400 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.

See recommended sanding schedules here: https://generalfinishes.com/faq/what-grit-should-i-use-for-prep-sanding-raw

Here are some options to try. Always test a small area before proceeding with your entire project.

  1. Toning: Lightly sand the light areas with a 220 grit sanding foam PAD to open up the pores of the wood. Create a toning mix of 10-20% dye stain to 80-90% topcoat. Using a small brush, apply this mix over the light areas to blend with the darker areas. Let this dry 3-4 hours. Then apply another coat of the mix over the entire surface. If this is successful, then apply 2-3 coats of the topcoat. 
  2. Glaze the light areas. This will change the look of your doors, but it is an easier remedy.
  3. Optimally, you should sand down to bare wood and start over with this prep sanding schedule. You can apply the dye stain directly to the wood, or mix in 10% top coat to help lock in the color.

 

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How do I prevent orange peel from occurring when spraying High Performance Gloss with a 2.0 spray tip?

The 2.0 tip is too large for the gloss sheen when working with the Earlex 5500 sprayer. We recommend that you use a 1.5mm tip instead. 

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.

Gloss is going to be the most finicky of the all the sheens to spray. Both Critter and the Earlex devices are suitable but atomization can only be increased with smaller fluid tips or larger spray units.

 

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How do I remove brush strokes from the 3rd coat of High Performance?

Sand down the finish with a 220 foam sanding pad and then add another layer of topcoat more 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 it's low humidity in the space you're working, we recommend adding 10% GF Extender to the topcoat to improve open time. 

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What is the best way to obtain a more durable finish with a flat sheen?

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.

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What is the difference between Flat Out Flat and High Performance Topcoats?

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. 

 

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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.

 

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Which Topcoat Should I Choose?

General Finishes Water Based Topcoats:

  • High Performance
  • Flat Out Flat
  • Enduro-Var
  • Enduro Professional Topcoats (Enduro Clear Poly, Enduro Conversion Varnish, Enduro Water Based Laquer)

General Finishes Oil Based Topcoats

  • Arm-R-Seal Liquid Oil Based Topcoat
  • Gel Satin Topcoat

GENERAL PRACTICE:

  1. Oil based topcoats and Enduro-Var will amber over time.
  2. Water based Flat Out Flat and High Performance top coats dry clear.
  3. Never use any water based topcoat with long oils such as Danish, Tung or Linseed.
  4. Water based top coats clean up with water. OIl based topcoats require mineral spirits for clean up.
  5. Enduro-Var ADHERES WELL only over WATER STAINS, DYE STAINS, and RAW WOOD.
  6. 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.
  7. Large/Detailed Surfaces - 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.
  8. Enduro Professional Top Coats are thinner and intended to be sprayed
  9. High Performance and Flat Out Flat can also be sprayed. If needed, it can be thinned by adding 10% water or Extender. Large surfaces such as cabinets or tables and complex projects with lots of detail are easier to cover with liquid top coat rather than a Gel top coat.

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Why did the finish on my piece become cloudy after top coating the Milk Paint with High Performance?

The term for a cloudy, milky appearance in the finish is Blush. There are two common causes.

  1. The most common reason is incompatible stain. For example, using a water based top coat over a heavy oil 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 and oil stain with a coat of shellac or lacquer sealer to providea barrier between the oil and the acrylic.
  2. Another cause for blushing is high humidity. Applying 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. And a common cause is a wet object or 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. The fix: The table 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.

 

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