© 2020 Hoppe Tree Service. All rights reserved.

Waterlox Easy Finishing Guide

Important Storage Information: Waterlox gels and becomes unusable if there is air in the can. Squeeze the sides of the can (a c-clamp helps) after each use so no air is contained within. 

Surface Prep

 

  1. Use a random orbital or preferred abrasive tool or method to remove machine marks.

  2. Use Aluminum oxide or Zirconia Alumina sandpaper to sand the wood (grits 60-220). AO-paper is the most common and cheapest, but dulls as it cuts. ZA-paper sharpens as it cuts and lasts longer. Use stearated paper (400 &600 grit, specifically) when sanding between coats. This material is less prone to clogging. 

  3. Start at 60 or 80 grit and work up to 220. It is OK to skip one grit-step (yes, really, we called manufacturers to double check). For example, 60, 100, 150, 220. Or 80, 120, 180, 220. 

  4. Sand evenly. Draw a light Zig-Zag across the entire surface with a pencil for first two grits. Sand until all the pencil has disappeared. Re-draw zigzag and repeat. 

  5. Clean between grits:Remove large particles and sandpaper residue with vacuum (not compressed air) between all grit changes. Vacuum with- and across grain. Wipe with lint-free rag (optional: with mineral spirits). Wipe until rags they come back clean.

  6. Once sanded to 220 grit, vacuum and wipe away fine particles with lint-free rags until they come out clean. May wipe with Mineral spirits. Tack cloths may also be used. 

  7. Place in finishing area. Elevate with painter’s pylons or similar. Ensure piece is level.

Equipment

  • Nitrile Gloves

  • Eye Protection + Respirator

  • Foam or Natural Bristle Brush

  • Lint-Free Rag (Scott Towels)

  • Mineral Spirits (for cleanup) 

  • Painter’s Pylons to elevate board

Venting and Dry Times

Waterlox dries slower with poor ventilation, low temperature and high humidity. Finish in well-ventilated space

General Application Guide

A Waterlox finish may be modified in two ways, regular and hand-rubbed. The main differences between the two methods result in slightly different appearances and protection.

 

The regular method is most often applied with a brush, has better protection against water/chemicals/spills and results in a semi-gloss surface 

 

The hand-rubbed method is most often applied with a lint-free rag. It gives the surface a more ‘natural' or 'organic' look with a satin finish that is thinner, but less protective than the regular method.

 

The basic procedure is the same for both methods, but for the hand-rubbed method, the excess liquid is wiped off after applying. 

Regular Method - Brush

  1. Prep surface per above instructions. Apply 1 - 2 coats on the backside or underside waiting 24-48 hrs between coats. 

  2. First Top Coat: Using a foam brush, apply a liberal amount to the surface. 

    1. Technique: Heavily load the brush with liquid. Use slow strokes and imagine ‘pushing’ the brush tip into the surface. Brush with grain, across the surface in straight lines

    2. Amount to apply: Notice how quickly Waterlox penetrates the surface on the first few strokes; the liquid immediately ‘disappears’ from the surface. Continue applying until the liquid starts ‘disappearing’ more slowly. 

    3. Wipe excess with lint-free shop towel 

    4. Wait 48 hours.

  3. Second Top Coat. 

    1. Technique: Similar, less pressure on brush​

    2. Amount of Apply: considerably less since the wood has been saturated

    3. Let dry for 24-48 hours

  4. Third Top Coat. 

    1. Thin Finish: Sand with 400 grit sandpaper (random orbital or palm sander) 

      1. White fine powder indicates the finish has fully cured

    2. Technique: Same as 2nd coat

    3. Amount: Less than 2nd coat

    4. Wait 24-48 hours

  5. Final Top Coat. Brush 

    1. Sand with 600 grit (or higher) AND 3M Synthetic Steel Wool 0000 pad. Remove dust with vacuum and lint-free rag or tack cloth.

    2. Technique: Apply a very light coat. Think about ‘dragging’ the tip of the brush across the surface instead of pushing into the surface, as in step 1. 

Hand-rubbed Method - Rag and Brush

  1. Prep surface per above instructions. Apply 1 - 2 coats on the backside or underside waiting 24-48 hrs between coats. 

  2. First Top Coat: Using a foam brush, apply a liberal amount to the surface. A rag may also be used, but will take a lot longer. 

    1. Technique: Heavily load the brush with liquid. Use slow strokes and imagine ‘pushing’ the brush tip into the surface. Brush with grain, across the surface in straight lines

    2. Amount to apply: Notice how quickly Waterlox penetrates the surface on the first few strokes; the liquid immediately ‘disappears’ from the surface. Continue applying until the liquid starts ‘disappearing’ more slowly. 

    3. Wipe excess with lint-free shop towel 

    4. Wait 48 hours.

  3. Second Top Coat.  Rag

    1. Technique: Apply with lint-free rag instead of foam brush for coats #2-#4​

      1. Wipe in alternating circular motion (Think Karate Kid ‘Wax on, Wax off’)

    2. Amount of Apply: considerably less since the wood has been saturated

    3. Wipe off excess

    4. Let dry for 24-48 hours

  4. Third Top Coat. Rag

    1. Sand with 400 grit sandpaper (random orbital or palm sander) 

      1. White fine powder indicates the finish has fully cured

      2. If sandpaper gets clogged with brown clumps, wait 12-24 more hours

    2. Vacuum dust off the surface. Wipe with lint-free rag or Tack Cloth

    3. Technique: Same as 2nd coat

    4. Amount: Less than 2nd coat

    5. Wipe off excess. 

    6. Wait 24-48 hours

  5. Final Top Coat. Rag

    1. Sand with 600 grit (or higher) AND 3M Synthetic Steel Wool 0000 pad. Remove dust with vacuum and lint-free rag or tack cloth.

    2. Technique: Apply a very light coat. Think about ‘dragging’ the tip of the brush across the surface instead of pushing into the surface, as in step 1. 

    3. Wipe off excess

Notes and Post-Varnishing Info

  1. Waterlox liquid or residue cleanup: Mineral Spirits

  2. Allow the finish to partially cure for 3-5 days. 

  3. Waterlox reaches ‘fully-cured’ state after 30-90 days. 

  4. Cleaning Finished Surface: can be performed after 7-9 days. Cean with: 

    1. Best Method: Waterlox Original Cleaner Concentrate 

    2. Passable alternative: White vinegar + Water mix (1 oz vinegar to 1 gallon water)

    3. Avoid ammonia- or bleach-containing surface cleaning products​