Waterlox Troubles

katiemc02April 15, 2013

Hi! Another lurker coming out of the shadows when trouble hits!

We are working on remodeling our kitchen ourselves and have run into a lot of problems with our IKEA beech butcherblock countertop. We finally got the stain figured out after a week of trial and error. In the end we used General Finishes water based stain.

After waiting for it to dry for 3+ days I applied the first coat of Waterlox. It seemed to go on fine so I applied the second coat after 24 hours. I could tell from the start that the second coat wasn't going on as well. It seemed to take on the non-stained part (we only stained the edges of the underside since that's the only part showing if you decided to lie down on my kitchen floor and look up!). Unfortunately, the stained parts look all streaky and bumpy. I know it can take a coat or two to self-level but I'm afraid this is more than a self-leveling issue. The stained parts were a little bumpy before I used the Waterlox but I couldn't sand those parts without ruining the stain.

I'm not sure what to do now. Do I sand down the bumps and hope it doesn't hurt the stain? And then start over with another coat? I'm kind of tempted to sand it all off, re-stain the underside and try another product. I don't really want to throw away $100 of product and start the research process again but I also don't want to be dealing with this Waterlox headache for the next week. Any input would be appreciated! Thanks!

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Are you using the low VOC formula? I had some problems that sound similar to yours but the explanation I got from Waterlox seemed to suggest my problems were specific to the low VOC formula so they probably don't apply unless that's what you're using.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 2:34PM
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Looks like a surface prep problem. You should do a light scuff sand between coats for better adhesion. When working with poly I do a few light passes with a sponge-backed 400-grit sandpaper between coats.

You'll need to be a bit more aggressive than that now though, to address the current situation.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 2:53PM
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wi-sailorgirl - Yes, this is the low VOC version. Did Waterlox give you advice on how to fix it and avoid it on additional layers?

chiefneil - Is it ok to sand a stained surface? Everything I've read on the Waterlox website said to never sand if you use stain.

Thank you both for your responses! I'm hoping I can get this figured out soon so we can have a kitchen sink again!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 4:41PM
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OK, so here's what I ran into with the low VOC formula.

Here's my email to Waterlox and their reply (which came quickly):

Dear sir or maam,

I hope you can help me figure out what is going on with an ongoing issue with a Waterlox project. The same problem has now happened twice.

I'm working on a butcher block-type counter (new). I used a wood conditioner, then stained it (General Finishes water-based stain and conditioner). After allowing the stain to dry for 24 hours, I applied a coat of Waterlox. I am using a natural bristle brush. I allowed the first coat to dry for 72 hours (didn't have a chance to get back to it before then). I very lightly sanded (1000 grit) a few areas that had some dust issues, cleaned off all the dust with a dust-free rag with mineral spirits, and applied a second coat of Waterlox original (low VOC). As soon as I was putting it on, it became clear that some areas were finishing quite differently from other. There is a large swatch (1 foot by 2 or more feet) plus a few other patches, where the finish is almost sandpaper-like. Like I said, this showed up while putting on the coat, not just when it dried.

This is the same thing that happened with my first attempt, but in that case I thought perhaps I had applied it wrong (I used a staining pad) and didn't allow it to dry enough in between coats (I allowed 24 hours). I sanded the counter down to bare wood and started over, but the same problem seems to have happened again.

What can be going on? More importantly, is there any way to salvage this? If I have to start from scratch again, I'd rather do it now than after I spend a lot of time and money applying more Waterlox. I just wish I knew what was going on so that I can make sure it doesn't happen again.

Thank you for your help.


Waterlox's reply:


Thank you for using Waterlox and for writing to us today.

My guess would be that all the spots that you sanded lightly are the spots that have the film wrinkled. With the VOC compliant product, if you spot sand or sand any areas of the surface, you will need to wait a minimum of 12 hours to 24 hours afterward to let the oil under where youâÂÂve sanded dry out / harden / cure. What happens when you âÂÂopen upâ the film is that it opens up and gets attacked by your next coat of finish.

You will want to scrape off the areas that had the affect and let the areas dry out for 24 ��" 48 hours, then re-coat.

Kellie Hawkins Schaffner
Vice President
Waterlox Coatings Corporation

Basically, I started over. It turned out OK in the end (and this was for a desktop and counter for my office at work so both surfaces get heavy use), but it was a lot of hassle.

Hope that helps a little. If that doesn't sound like the issue maybe you want to try emailing them to see if they can help.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 6:02PM
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Thank you for the info! I think I found your website a few weeks ago. Your email to Waterlox sounds very familiar. :) I just sent Waterlox my own email with some photos so hopefully I'll get some information on how to proceed.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 6:35PM
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