Waterlox, Good Stuff or Tung Oil

dlspellmanJanuary 27, 2008

I've just spent hours reading blogs on what to use and am confused.

I will have new solid black walnut island top with no sink or appliances on it. It will be used alot, primarily for food prep and eating. No cutting direcly on the countertop, but lots of mixing and prepping. Wet cans, glasses, etc. It's also the landing spot for grocery bags that get scooted across, etc.

The countertop was originally delivered and was finished using 3 coats of "Good Stuff" (available from Grizzley). I found that after a few wipedowns it was already in need of refreshing and was drying out considerably. Plus, I was getting water rings. I'm not sure Good Stuff was the best product...

Due to a mismeasure, the counter is having to be remade and now I have the opportunity to finish the new counter with something different and am looking for recommendations. I've read alot about Waterlox and tung oil and am wondering if I'll be happier going in that direction. On my perimeter counters I have soapstone - so I am going for a patina'd, classic look. Appreciate your feedback!

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Bar epoxy.

Both the finishes you listed will do the same thing that happened with the original.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 11:09AM
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I'm presuming you're the same person that posted on Y!A?

Bar epoxy is a one-shot deal, meaning you can't really repair it and you can't easily strip and refinish, should that be in your future. What would you do if you drop a bowl and fracture the finish or it gets minute cracks in it?

Waterlox original is a varnish _made from_ tung oil. It is as different from tung oil as a finish as is a loaf of bread from a bag of flour. Waterlox Original is probably one of the most water-resistant things you can apply.

Tung Oil (100% Tung Oil, not the misleading Tung Oil Finishes) will provide minimal protection.

I have no idea what "Good Stuff" is and "synthetic oil" does not give much of a clue. The MSDS says 52% is mineral spirits and that will evaporate away in a few hours.

Well, there's some more opinions to confuse you more.

Here is a link that might be useful: Oil FInishes

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 12:39PM
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First, no I'm not the one who posted on Y!A? This was my only posting on the walnut countertop on any post, anywhere.

Bobsmyuncle, are you the Bob that wrote the article? It was very helpful! But, still left me with questions...

If I did a Waterlox product, say 4-6 coats, since it is a wiping varnish (not an oil/varnish blend), does it become hard to the point like a shellac would and be hard to repair surface scrathes from the grocery bags? Or at that point would you just touch up by rubbing in Waterlox? ie- is it easily repairable?

If I am looking for a touchup/repairable product, am I better off with a product from the oil/varnish blends? Or do I then risk the water ring problem again? And does it need frequent fresh coats to keep it from drying out like I experienced before?

I know the article says the tung oil is alot more upfront work, but will eventially offer good water resistance if the 5-7 coats are applied upfront. That definitely would be repairable, right? Will it need frequent fresh coats to keep it from drying out?

So, if it were your top, or a customers top, what would you recommend? Thanks!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2008 at 4:28AM
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I did not write that article.

If if were mine, or I was doing it for someone else, I'd probably go with Waterlox Original (a varnish). I used this on a dry sink turned vanity last year.

Oil by itself is not waterproof, in fact, it's hygroscopic. So I would stay away from oil-varnish blends such as Danish Oils. In addition, oil finishes will crystallize and slough off and therefore need to be renewed regularly.

If the finish becomes scuffed, you can rub it out, or sand and add another coat.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2008 at 9:48AM
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Behlens Rockhard Tabletop Varnish. It is a old-fashion oil varnish, no poly. It can be rubbed out with pumice stone for a satin finish. If it gets scratched, it can be polished back with rottenstone, rubbing compound and wax to a full gloss finish.
Big drawback for some is the slow dry time.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2008 at 9:48AM
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If remember correctly, both the above are a phenolic resin-tung oil varnish. If they are, they are much more alike than different. I would be much more comfortable recommending either of these over epoxy. (See the thread below on catalytic finish and problems therein)

Here is a link that might be useful: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/wood/msg011608486946.html?24

    Bookmark   January 28, 2008 at 7:09PM
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I will give my two cents here on Waterlox. We have used various finishes over the years for wood care projects for our clients. We have settled on Waterlox as our finish of choice on most interior wood surfaces including floors, countertops, and cabinetry for two main reasons.

First and foremost is the awesome look of natural beauty it gives to wood surfaces. Almost a "sparkle" effect with the colors in wood, but it's really hard to describe; you just should see a sample yourself on wood. Most other finishes look "plastic" or manufactured. Waterlox is just an elegant look.

Second, Waterlox is extremely servicable, and easy to touchup or recoat if scratched or abused. Even the hardest coatings will become scratched or worn eventually. Many of our clients do the maintenance themselves. Most other coating options for interior wood including polyurethane, epoxy, or moisture cure urethane are more unpleasant and difficult for our crew to apply initially, and a major pain when it is time for recoat. While MCU and epoxy may be a harder surface, scratch repair is impossible, and they are in my opinion something we do not want to use in a home or resturant. A Waterlox coated surface is rated "food-grade" after 30 days of drying. I even read that it is used for wood salad bowls and the like.

We have come across quite a few custom countertop companies over the years that use the Waterlox as their original finish. Again, once you see Waterlox on Zebrawood, Mesquite, or other exotic wood, the choice of finish is obvious. The guys we get our wood finishes from have small sample packets of Waterlox available, and they have some other information about Waterlox.

Here is a link that might be useful: Waterlox Samples

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 9:01AM
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Waterlox varnish is a great product and looks absolutely beautiful on Walnut. The only downside is the slow dry time and odor. I haven't used it on a food prep surface before, but right now I am working on a maple/cherry kitchen island and the previous poster's comment has me thinking about using Waterlox. I am going to do some research to confirm that it is "food-grade" before I commit.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 2:22PM
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regarding food-safe, see the link

Here is a link that might be useful: food safe finishes

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 9:24PM
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Just as a followup from my end...my walnut top fabricators wouldn't use Waterlox because they didn't have the time & place to let it dry between coats (not to mention they were just being stubborn about using their own methods). So I negotiated some money back and I did the finishing myself. I'm a somewhat handy housewife...no previous experience with Waterlox....it went great! I brushed two coats of the original as a base coat. Very light sanding & tack cloth in between. Then I switched to the lower sheen and brushed on two more coats with light sanding in between. I now have a couple of scratches, etc. and my goal is to get a couple more coats of low sheen on before winter (fumes). I think I will rag apply the last two coats, b/c in just a couple places if you look hard, you can see some brush marks. I want to see if they will disappear with a rag application. Any tips or recommendations for this process - ie) adding coats after several months to remove scratches and just build up more finish?

By the way, this was my second top - the first I had used the product Good Stuff. I much prefer the Waterlox, despite the longer application and smell (which is no worse than oil based paint or varnish IMHO). The Good Stuff was kind of like applying a wax. Rub on, let sit, buff off. Has to be reapplied every 4-6 months when it is washed on a daily basis, and it started to look more uneven in appearance as it wore off. I did use Good Stuff in some other areas of my kitchen (but not a horizontal counter that gets washed several times a day), and it is looking great, too.

But, in conclusion, the Waterlox is beautiful!!!! Looks very much like a handworn, beautifully maintained patina on a cherished antique. I love it.

On a side note, I did some light distressing before applying the Waterlow - banged around with various objects, then added just a little stain to some of those divets and places with an artist's brush before applying the first coats of Waterlox, worked like a charm. I'll try to post photos later.

Thanks to everyone who has posted here, I found the right solution for me!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 10:18AM
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Here are a couple phots of my walnut countertop which currently has four coats of Waterlox that were applied in February or so. 2 coats original first, then 2 coats of the satin.

Some distressing was done before any Waterlox coats were applied. And a bit of stain was thrown in some of the distressed marks to highlight them prior to Waterlox.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 1:39PM
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Very nice. Converting the world away from Minwax Polyurethane, one person at a time.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 6:28PM
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Stunning countertop dls!

Love the added "imperfections" too - great job!

I have a couple of antique walnut side tables that have needed refinishing for some time. I may consider the Waterlox for them.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 2:55AM
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Thanks guys - not bad for a rookie! Thanks again "bobsmyuncle".... your tips on this forum have served me well!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 8:57AM
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Be very careful with the rags you have used. They are flammable. Lay the used rag out flat on your driveway and let it dry thoroughly before throwing it out.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 11:36AM
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We have installed Marvin windows in the new house. wood inside/clad outside. I heard so much good about the Waterlox that I decided to try it. Many call it a wiping varnish so that is what I did, wiped it on with a rag. It looks great BUT my carpenter put on the base coats on the outside doors as I have been very busy. He brushed it on. Wow! What a difference. I feel really stupid now for not brushing it on the windows. I plan on going back and reapplying it to all the windows. The doors are Spanish Cedar and we can't get over how beautiful the Waterlox is on the doors. My carpenter, who is a wood craftsman, had never heard of the product. He loves it.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 12:30AM
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click, click... two more converts :-)

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 1:52PM
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Interesting reading. I'm looking for a no or low VOC sealer for my living room and kitchen ceilings. I'd really like to find something that won't yellow over time. Though I don't particularly want it to look shiny. Any sugguestions?

Here is a link that might be useful: Wood ceilings

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 8:02PM
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A ceiling is a challenging project, and you should try to "pre-coat" as much as possible before installation. Waterlox would make an excellent choice to protect and beautify the wood. While Waterlox will richen the wood initially, it does not continue to amber over time like most conventional oil finishes. Waterlox has a VOC Compliant product, but not a Low VOC version . I am told they will be releasing a Low VOC version soon.

The solvent in most Waterlox products is primarily mineral spirits. The VOC compliant versions contain a solvent shown not to contribute to ozone depletion, and that is why they are compliant in those regulated states. It is a very expensive solvent, and is actually more unpleasant to use than the mineral spirit versions. The challenge in applying Waterlox to a ceiling is the thin nature of the product, and generally requires spray and back brush application when applying to an already installed ceiling.

A truly low voc wood coating choice would be a water-based urethane, but those finishes typically do not bring out the natural beauty of the wood like an oil would. While the quick dry and low odor of the water-based finishes are attractive features, there are some downsides. Water-based finishes will usually result in excessive grain raising on many species of wood. Water-based finishes dry quickly and can be difficult to apply evenly over a large expanse of ceiling.

A great compromise for ceilings is to pre-coat the wood with (2-3 coats) Waterlox (even one coat backside) prior to installing, then apply a final coat of Waterlox after you install the wood. Waterlox Sealer Finish serves as a great sealer for a variety of topcoats, enhancing and beautifying the wood. Some clients choose to topcoat the Waterlox with a waterbased urethane after installing if application issues dictate. Every project will have it's own circumstances to consider when selecting your finish.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 1:39PM
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Great, thanks for the info.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2009 at 3:54PM
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Chalk another one up Bob...I also give my thumbs up for Waterlox as well (the Original is my product of choice). It is a superior finish with a very natural look. Maybe not as hard as some finishes but much more easily touched up than most finishes. I have used it on high grade furniture refinishes for several years with tremendous success. I used it on our heart pine floors (2500 sqft); it is absolutely stunning and is holding up well. The pic's of the walnut countertop (excellent work BTW) are a great example of the natural beauty of the finish imparted by Waterlox.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2009 at 5:42PM
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I have down a few jobs for a high-end kitchen cabinet company in town and it looks like I'm going to be their new go-to guy for touch-up repairs. I did a site visit yesterday and the kitchen had a walnut countertop. As I was talking to the designer, she told me their cabinet shop used Waterlox for the job. Looks like they keep good company.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 9:23PM
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bob - out of curiosity, have you ever run across John Boos butcher blocks and countertops in your endeavors?

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 10:05PM
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Not that I know of. I've only done a few jobs for this Kitchen Company, most of my work is on furniture. I have heard of them, and may have even seen them in homes without knowing it.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 2:23PM
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I have to redo our wood island top this summer and have been looking at different products. When we did it originally I wanted waterlox but couldn't find it in our area. I used what seemed to be a similar product from Lee Valley. It hasn't been too bad but now looks dry and worn after about 2 yrs. Really wishing I could get my hands on some Waterlox after seeing dlspellman's gorgeous counter top. Oh, well.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 11:13PM
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Try an outfit called paintsource.net. They sell all finishes in quarts and gallons. They are very competitive and very helpful and knowledgeable folks. HTH

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 5:20AM
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Thanks breezy, but I'm in Canada and Waterlox is on a list of things that can't be shipped here because of it's chemical make up I guess.

It can be bought in some parts of Canada, just not here.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 11:08AM
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budge1, the manufacturer can ship directly to Canadian customers. I'm not sure about shipping cost, but you could contact them directly through link provided.

Here is a link that might be useful: Waterlox

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 3:03PM
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dlspellman - - I hope you're still checking in because I just saw your beautiful built-in refrigerator on the Kitchen Forum and would like to know the finish on the handles and where you got them. Your whole kitchen is fabulous!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 8:15PM
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Napagirl -

The large vertical pulls are by Top Knob - the Pumpkin series in Rust. Are those the ones you were asking about?

The Horizontal were from another company...blanking out, but can look it up if you want.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 10:25AM
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I found this post regarding your countertop finished with water lox tung oil finish. How do you clean it and how is it holding up?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 7:50PM
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