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Best Interior Polyurethane

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Forum topic by Automaton25 posted 07-06-2020 12:57 AM 583 views 1 time favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Automaton25

13 posts in 397 days


07-06-2020 12:57 AM

Hello Everyone,

I am looking for recommendations on quality interior polyurethanes. I was looking at General Finishes HP but wasn’t sure if there was something just as good that is comparable. The finish will be on a staircase railing and on a mantle over and active wood burning stove. There is a shield on the mantle but it is not completely protected from heat.

Also, on a side note, what is an acceptable moisture content at which to seal a checked Douglas Fir beam? I am currently sitting at about 18% surface moisture content. I cut the beam to length a couple months ago and at the fresh cut the heart of the beam was at 47%. The beam has been inside at about 70 degrees in an air conditioned house in Colorado ever since.

Thoughts?

Cheers


18 replies so far

View Walker's profile

Walker

385 posts in 1277 days


#1 posted 07-06-2020 04:57 AM

I don’t have experience with the General Finishes HP, but I have had success on stairs with the Waterlox Urethane (XL-89). It dries clear and does not yellow over time, and it’s very durable. I used it on my basement stairs I built of yellow pine. After 3 years or so it’s held up really well. Still clear, still solid. I’m in the process of redoing my main staircase now, with oak treads and risers painted with while latex paint. Both will get the Waterlox Urethane as a top coat. I don’t know how it stands up to heat, but it’s something to research in addition to the GF products.

-- ~Walker

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Automaton25

13 posts in 397 days


#2 posted 07-06-2020 05:16 AM



I don t have experience with the General Finishes HP, but I have had success on stairs with the Waterlox Urethane (XL-89). It dries clear and does not yellow over time, and it s very durable. I used it on my basement stairs I built of yellow pine. After 3 years or so it s held up really well. Still clear, still solid. I m in the process of redoing my main staircase now, with oak treads and risers painted with while latex paint. Both will get the Waterlox Urethane as a top coat. I don t know how it stands up to heat, but it s something to research in addition to the GF products.

- Walker

Awesome, thank you! I’ll definitely look into it

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

1758 posts in 3598 days


#3 posted 07-06-2020 02:25 PM

Varathane makes great finishes. I stripped, sanded, and applied 3 coats to our hardwood floors, using a painting of. It has been 30 years, 4 kids, and it still has a great finish. Hardly a scratch. But remember, dry to touch is not cured. Don’t rush to use it after the last layer. Patience is important. (This is oil based)

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Automaton25

13 posts in 397 days


#4 posted 07-06-2020 03:14 PM



Varathane makes great finishes. I stripped, sanded, and applied 3 coats to our hardwood floors, using a painting of. It has been 30 years, 4 kids, and it still has a great finish. Hardly a scratch. But remember, dry to touch is not cured. Don t rush to use it after the last layer. Patience is important. (This is oil based)

- ibewjon

The oil based products are definitely more durable. We are trying to and the warm tones since it is covering hickory. The oil based also seems to Stacy a lot more dust and hair while it is drying.

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LesB

2573 posts in 4248 days


#5 posted 07-06-2020 05:41 PM

FYI. Varathane brand is currently owned by Rust-oleum. That is not a comment on it’s reliability but sometimes products change with different ownership. I have used their water based product for many years with very good results. Their water based Floor Finish is quite durable. I have used it successfully on stairs and table tops. I would disagree with Automation25 that oil based is better; also oil based produces a lot more noxious fumes and most have a slight yellowish tint as opposed to the clear color of water base. Water base goes on milky white so any drips or runs are easy to spot and correct.

I have found that ambient temperature and humidity can affect the drying times for water based varathanes. The best temps seem to be between 65 and 75 degrees. Cooler slows the drying and allows more dust to settle. Warmer the surface drys too fast for the surface to completely level out, especially if applied with a brush.

Regarding your fir beam. Wet or green wood that size can take a long time to dry and as a general rule you want it down to about 10-15% moisture before “sealing”. Your climate is relatively dry in CO so it might only take a few months.
You did not say how you intended to seal it or what it was being used for. Certainly an oil based sealer like linseed or tung oil could be applied at a higher moisture content as they would still allow the moisture to exit over time but a hard finish like varathane, varnish or shellac would trap the moisture for a longer time and the moisture could end up damaging the finish.

-- Les B, Oregon

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JIMMIEM

71 posts in 1647 days


#6 posted 07-08-2020 01:37 PM

Check out Last N Last oil based polyurethane. This is a great product and creates a very durable finish. It’s relatively expensive.

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Carol

87 posts in 1318 days


#7 posted 07-09-2020 10:19 PM

i’ll never use varathane oil base again…all the heart pine in our house (ceiling, floors, staircase, trim) was finished with varathane. the floor and anything that had a cover (the rugs cover parts of the floor and a blanket had been kept over the loft railing) darkened like pine from the 60s. i hate it…

i have braided rugs on the floor, handmade in nc, down a hallway, and in the loft. the wood under each rug is the color the beautiful pine was before indirect uv rays from windows (with shades and curtains no less) darkened it over about 6 months time. now i have to constantly change the position of the rugs so the entire surface can darken and not just the uncovered part.

used leftover pine flooring for my countertops, and sealed with original waterlox – love it. i’ve had a cutting board on one end of the counter that only gets moved once in a while, and the pine under that board looks just like the rest of the counter.

should have used waterlox everywhere instead of varathane…

-- Carol

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

1758 posts in 3598 days


#8 posted 07-10-2020 02:03 AM

I don’t know why you had a problem with varathane. I did my floors over 30 years ago. We have had various rugs in different parts of the filled. Lots of sunlight, especially through a large dining room window with no UV glass, no shades, just pure sunlight. No darkening what do ever. This is oak flooring. I also have heart pine with the varathane, and no problems there either.

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Woodknack

13439 posts in 3185 days


#9 posted 07-10-2020 02:39 AM

I don’t know the best but I’m using waterbase low odor, fast drying, floor finishes. I’m way over stinky finishes that take days to dry.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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oldnovice

7595 posts in 4173 days


#10 posted 07-10-2020 04:54 PM

I have used Minwax wipe on poly, General Finishes wipe on poly (one of the best IMO), but lately I started using Varathane water based poly in spray/brush and like the results very much, more than the oil based polyurethane.

The Varathane poly dries quickly, has very little odor, and is very forgiving. In the last few months I have gone through a quart of brush on and two cans of spray. I am with Woodnack with regard to water based finishes. I haven’t tried any other WBF at this time.

A note on the GF Arm-R-Seal, it is probably one of the best oil based finishes I have ever used. I have several projects that are over 40+ years old, one is an end table, used daily, and still looks very good.

-- "It's fine in practise but it will never work in theory"

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controlfreak

945 posts in 406 days


#11 posted 07-10-2020 05:13 PM

I am an oil based guy. The slower dry time works in my favor when I need to keep a wet edge longer. I hate seeing brush tracks where the edges dry too quickly.

View becikeja's profile

becikeja

1122 posts in 3618 days


#12 posted 07-10-2020 10:33 PM

Im a General Finishes fan myself

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

3352 posts in 2299 days


#13 posted 07-11-2020 02:30 AM

IMHO Finishing wood/metal is like hair styles and picking a shampoo?

Every geographic area has different ‘best’ preferences based on availability, and local design choices that are popular. Many folks pick a best without every trying the 50 other products in market, as not every brand has sales or distribution that is easy to find locally.

+1 Oil based Polyurethane is best.
I prefer oil and solvent based coatings as they add depth and character that a water clear water based coating can not offer. When using WB finishes, it is really easy to make project look like it was dipped in clear plastic and was made by IKEA. Arm-R-Seal is super easy wipe/brush/spray on coating for home use. The 2 part old school commercial coatings used on bar tops and will last decades covered in beer. And SW pre-cat CAB Lacquer is super easy to use when you have low humidity, is easy to touch up, and looks like like every commercial kitchen cabinet you have ever seen installed.

Regardless, my personal ranking of water based single part clear top coats:

Last place – Minwax Anything
Polycrylic is not a poly, and has worst durability in market. All the Minwax poly finishes are temperamental to apply without defects. Minwax is bottom of barrel of products from Sherwin Williams. Just say no thank and find a different brand, unless you like personal Flagellation.

#5 – General Finishes High Performance
Not a polyurethane, is a clear acrylic. OK for drawers or small unused decorative boxes, but not durable enough for table tops or bookcases that will get scratched with dusty books slide off/on shelves regularly.

#4 – GF Enduro-Var Polyurethane
There are two Enduro Var product lines. The commercial line performs better than retail grade for me. EnduroVar has pink tones, they get worse with longer shelf life. So if your local retail stock is over 6-12 months old, may find a strong pink tone. The pink is supposed to disappear after dry/cure, but really old stock will retain some color. The pink is especially noticeable on white wood like maple or birch, and is worse with thick film build. Use only fresh stuff, and it works OK.

#3 – Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane or Varathane Crystal Clear Floor Finish
Floor finish has clear aluminum oxide filler which improves durability, but not as transparent on grain details with thick coating. Both Varathane are water clear, but have slight blue haze with thick coating. The floor finish has worked OK on veneer table top refinish job I did a couple years ago, has minimal scratches even with 3 kids. I spray Ultimate Polyurethane on drawer boxes, and shop furniture with great results. Works well for small boxes too, as long as blue tone is acceptable. With low temperature incandescent lighting, you don’t see any color. But hit it with high temp LED lighting and blue is obvious (to me). Coupled with cheap BORG pricing is hard to not use it when cost is most important criteria.

#2 – Gemini EVO HYDRO-PURE Clear
Not a polyurethane. More like an acrylic modified Lacquer. Is one of the most durable commercial WB top coats, with a large processing window that makes is easy to apply. Has no pink/blue tint. Passes KCMA finish requirements for kitchen and bath cabinets. Works best with extra hardener. I use it for any/all commission cabinetry work I randomly do for friends and family, where quality is more important than saving $20/gal.

#1 NONE. There are zero ‘best’ water based single part polyurethane coatings in market.

—————————————-
If you open the rankings to include 2 part materials that use hardener/catalyst; there are more options. Although the choices are limited as the number of WB polyurethanes in market is limited.

Target Em9300:
Is sold as single part coating, but is too soft without additional cross linker. Looses it’s outdoor rating with cross linker as well. I like the Em8000 Conversion Varnish better due natural amber color tones, but it is not a polyurethane as requested on OP. The EM6000 WB lacquer is also a decent coating (with cross linker) for anywhere you would use lacquer (except table tops or gaming surfaces), although the Gemini EVO has seemed more durable so far. All of the Target coatings are more expensive for me as I have to pay shipping. So I have used a max of 1-2 gallons each on very few projects.

Renner 2K – Urethane M750 product
Get this locally, and can’t find any English product references as Renner is Italian company. I am told Renner WB products have large market share in Europe commercial cabinetry, but they have a ton of different products and hard to nail down which ones are used. Acts more like a conversion varnish than a poly. The most durable clear top coat I have tested. Have only tested this coating on 1 small box, and stain samples. But this will replace Gemini as my choice for any future commission work.

BTW – The above is my opinion based on my hands on testing of ALL the products, not internet reviews I read and regurgitate in the forums. My favorite coatings always seem to be the commercial materials, and not the stuff sold at retail. Once I started using commercial grade finishes, the quality of my finish work improved dramatically. TBH – have no idea if it is better materials, or the professional education/support i get from the a commercial distributor that ensures better looking finish? But thanks to old age and experience, and the industrial grade materials, I can apply a finish with more than acceptable results. :-)

Thanks for reading to end. and as always, YMMV

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

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mdhills

36 posts in 3437 days


#14 posted 07-11-2020 02:57 AM

I finished my son’s desk with GF High Performance (several coats sprayed with earlex HVLP).
It has held up well for the last couple of years, although he isn’t super abusive.
It is a noticeably thicker film than the GF oil-based finishes I’ve used (arm-r-seal and their wipeable gel)

Matt

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farmfromkansas

210 posts in 419 days


#15 posted 07-11-2020 03:04 AM

I bought a quart of varathane and it was a completely different product than the varathane I used years ago. Minwax was just a stain company, good stuff, then was bought by sherwin williams, and now they sell urethane the same brand. No idea if it is very good, although I have some in my storage cabinet. Where do you buy the general brand finishes?

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