Waterlox question

2ajsmamaJuly 2, 2010

aidan_m - since I'm sealing the treads, what do you recommend sanding the shellac coat to prior to Waterlox application? Their website says 100-150 but that's for bare wood. Also says coverage is 500 sf/gal for each coat, I know it will be less, smallest I can buy is a quart but how much and how many coats do you think I'd need for 13 steps (less than 50sf) that have been sealed? I'm thinking 2 coats, a quart should be more than enough?

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150 grit is good. You need about 3 coats of Waterlox to get a good build on floors. You said the original finish is BLO and beeswax? Use the 150 grit on that finish to rough it up. Vacuum up the dust and wipe the wood with mineral spirits. Allow the mineral spirits to dry completely (about half an hour) and then wipe down with alcohol. Now you're ready to shellac. Apply shellac about 700 sf/gal. If the grain is very porous do two thin coats, otherwise one is fine. Waterlox can be applied as soon as the shellac is dry enough to sand. That could be less than an hour if the temp and humidity are favorable. The original oil finish will look beautiful with the shellac and varnish over it.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 7:24PM
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a quart is enough to do 10 coats on the stairs

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 7:26PM
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Casey made a remark on the other thread about best to put Waterlox on bare wood, no shellac. I just don't know if I can get the wax (BLO not a problem?) off entirely, after 3 yrs it might be pretty much worn off and sanding will help but I want to make sure it's entirely gone b4 putting Waterlox on, if I do skip the shellac. Casey's floor is beautiful, but so was my cousin's when it was first Waterloxed but now with a 3-yr old and riding toys, their floor is looking pretty beat (chips, not just scratches). If the shellac will help protect it, as well as seal in the wax, and look just as nice in the beginning, help it look that way longer but still allow Waterlox to be touched up, I'd like to go with that.

Oh, and I had tried a pine door with Sealcoat sanding sealer and washcoat, then gel stain, then 2 coats of thinned Minwwax Fast-Drying poly - the thinned poly still didn't dry quickly enough, I got dust nibs so I went back to the Wipe-on poly I had started using on all the trim (but after the 1st 2 doors decided to use the shellac under the poly). The shellacked door looks almost iridescent, much nicer than the poly-only doors. So I know shellac makes poly look better but don't know how it will look with Waterlox. I could just use shellac and poly on the treads (that's what I did with oak newel posts and railing, though I have poly only on the pine risers and skirt), but don't want to use the Fast-drying poly even if it is recommended for floors b/c of the dust nibs. Couldn't even sand all the dust out of the door (though I tried, and then put 2 coats of Wipe-on over it), thank goodness that side was the basement side.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 8:36AM
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The BLO gives the same depth as waterlox on bare wood. Shellac on bare wood also brings out the grain, just not quite as much as oil. For woods that amber, using clear shellac as a first coat may bring out more desireable grain characteristics than the oil. Waterlox tends to look more amber until it cures. BLO stays a little more amber. Casey's comment about shellac on bare wood looking "dead" is not my experience at all. Water based poly looks dead on bare wood. Oil and shellacs BOTH make the grain "pop" It's just a matter of the color and grain characteristics you desire.

On special grain-pattern woods, like quartersawn oak, birds-eye maple, lacewood, etc, an oil-based coat on the bare wood is definitely the way to go. You really want the grain to pop. To achieve this with the least ambering possible, I would use Waterlox for all the coats. But this gets expensive. For darker woods, or if you desire a warm, slightly amber, hue a BLO base coat gives the same effect as Waterlox for a fraction of the price. Wipe it away aggressively to prevent over saturation. This will allow you to shellac much sooner than if you let the BLO dwell too long (over-saturation)

If you plan to use Waterlox Satin, do not use more than one coat of it. More coats obscure the grain. Waterlox original is semi-gloss, so you can build up as many coats as you like. If you use the satin, you still need to buy the original to use as the base coat(s), whether it be on bare wood or over the shellac seal-coat.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 12:42PM
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Thanks - since I have to use Original for a base coat on top of shellac anyway, I guess I can always just use that and if I don't like how it looks, apply the Satin later.

So, just to get it down,

1. Sand treads with 150.
2. Wipe with mineral spirits, let dry.
2 1/2. Buy some BLO w/o wax, apply, dry, sand, tack??? Are you recommending this step or so you think my builder's oak treads will look OK without it?
3. Wipe with alcohol, let dry.
4. Apply 1-2 coats of shellac.
5. Sand with ? grit?
6. Wipe with mineral spirits.
7. Apply 2 coats of Waterlox Original (following instructions for drying time and tacking between coats - they say no sanding required).
8. Apply top coat of Original or Satin (this may be much later, after we live with Original for a bit).

They saw use a lambswool applicator - but since I'm doing treads, is a lambswool mitt (like a bonnet) better than one that can attach to broom handle? Or do I want a solid backing on it rather than just using my hand (like using a sanding block)? How to wrap under the nosing?

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 7:46AM
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Skip the BLO. You already oiled the bare wood. After the shellac, sand w/ 150 or 180. You'll know by the way the surface feels. Waterlox original is harder than satin. Better for floors. Satin finishes are inherently softer, and you can always rub a cured gloss finish to satin.

Waterlox does not require sanding between coats, but you want to remove any little nibs between coats so the surface finishes nice and smooth. I always sand between coats. Even the final coat will inevitably have some little dust nibs. That is why rubbing out the finish after it totally cures is necessary to achieve the best results.

To apply, it's not rocket science. Lambswool is not necessary for stair treads. A brush and rag is the best. Brush it on and leave it for the first coat or two. The following coats should be wiped down to prevent excessive buildup. If you have adjacent painted surfaces be careful of flooding the varnish too heavy or it will soak up into the corners and make a mess. Make sure you buy a black china bristle brush of good quality that says "for oil base" on the label. Buy a gallon of mineral spirits and clean the brushes aggressively after each use. A wire brush is necessary to clean the varnish out of the bristles completely. Let it soak in clean solvent after you get it clean. Those brush spinners are really good. Never let the china bristle brushes touch water or they will be ruined. Only oil and solvent for those.

It sounds like you're on the right track. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 10:26AM
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Yes, since they said to brush around all obstacles I was wondering if I could just brush the whole tread. No paint anywhere - the risers and skirt are poly'd. I was going to tape them off.

What grit do you use to sand b/t coats?

I have a really good Purdy brush I used for Cetol, but it's a sash brush - what size do you recommend for treads? 3 or 4 inches? Probably have to use both small and large brushes to get into corners.

Thanks - going to give this a try in August just b4 vacation. I'll let you know how it goes.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 1:12PM
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3" angled black china bristle brush.

Sand with 150 grit after first coat, then 180 next coat, then 220 before the final coat(s).

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 11:55PM
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150 after shellac, 180 first coat of Waterlox, then sand 2nd coat of Waterlox with 180&200? I only plan on putting 3 coats max of Waterlox. Thanks

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 8:19AM
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