Once you're through painting or staining a piece, the last step is to seal it with the right top coat.
Should you use wax? Or a water-based polycrylic?
Or maybe an oil-based polyurethane? It's not exactly a secret that we are HUGE fan-girls of General Finishes products, including their top coats. Here's a rundown of their water-based sealers, and some recommendations on what-to-use (and how.)
General Finishes water-based sealers range from matte to glossy. The general rule is this: the shinier, the harder your finish. And conversely, the flatter, the softer your finish will be.
With that said, we can special-order gloss finishes for you, but we don't keep them in stock because most of you - and we - don't use them often. (More on that later.)
So which one should you use?
Flat-out Flat and High Performance Flat
Generally, we recommend these for vertical surfaces and pieces that aren't going to get a lot of wear-and-tear: buffets and credenzas, occasional tables, headboards. Flat/matte finishes give a soft, finish that mimics hand-rubbed wax, with a little more durability than wax.
High Performance Satin
We typically go for a satin finish over stain for dining tables - it's got sheen without being shiny. You can also use it for cabinets, chairs, and other surfaces that are likely to get a little more wear-and-tear.
High Performance Semi-Gloss and Gloss
Remember, shinier = harder. So if you're re-doing your kitchen cabinets, you want and need something that is scrubbable and stain-resistant. Don't want shiny? No problem. Start with two coats of Gloss or Semi-Gloss for durability, then buff with steel wool, wipe clean and finish with a coat of Satin to create a durable, beautiful sheen.
Exterior 450 Flat and Satin
This is our newest love. It is UV-resistant, and is a fabulous sealer over outdoor pieces like porch leaners, wreath posts, planter chairs....the list goes on and on.
As with the High Performance sealers, your sheen will have a bearing on how well it wears. If you need the best of both worlds, apply two coats of the shinier finish and finish with a third coat of flat or satin.
Want a quick video show-and-tell of these finishes, and our best tips for applying them? Here's a recent in-store demo I did that covers all the ins and outs of using these fabulous finishes.
We have a full slate of free demos each Wednesday at 10:30. You can stop by and watch in-person, or catch us on Facebook!
WHO WRITES THIS STUFF?
I'm Terry Lea, owner of Re-Invintage Home, a vintage home goods shop just south of Nashville in Murfreesboro, TN. A lifelong passion for vintage picking led me to open a shop with my picking pal, Sherri in 2017. Come see us!