Wood Finishing – How to Apply Waterlox Original Sealer and Finisher 2014

Learn how to apply waterlox with no flaws!

Sponsored LinksPicture of a can of waterlox original sealer and finisher.Waterlox is an amazing finish that gives great depth and beauty to any wood while also creating a highly protective coating. I only use Waterlox Original on all of my handcrafted trunks I sell. I believe that I have mastered how to most effectively apply Waterlox Original.

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 Waterlox Problems: How to use waterlox finish without problems

I have been using Waterlox Original for several years now and am very satisfied with the results I have achieved with it. I will say that it took me a good while to master the potential of Waterlox Original. I am hoping to help you out by providing information that will make you a master Waterlox finish from day one.

Please note that this guide is only for Waterlox Original Sealer/Finisher and NOT for any of their other products. This method will not work with other Waterlox Products.

Other Waterlox products on the market include Waterlox Original Satin, Waterlox Original High Gloss and Waterlox Marine Finish.

Some typical problems I was having at first with Waterlox Original were:

  • Micro Bubbles in the Waterlox finish
  • Rough finish
  • Streaking

After encountering these problems I turned to the internet for help and found most articles stated that it was the easiest finish in the world to apply and was fool proof. Well I guess I was a fool because no matter what brush, rag, applicator or technique I tried I always had bubbles in my finish or it was very rough.
After reading as much information as possible I found that Waterlox had changed their formula. The reason for this may be due to new Environmental Protection Agency regulations from what I have read. Many of the tutorials and posts regarding Waterlox Original were outdated and not very helpful.

A few myths I have read online about Waterlox Original are:

  • You must stir and not shake Waterlox or you will have bubbles. Waterlox does not need to be mixed in anyway as stated by Waterlox on their website and on the side of the can.
  • You must use a high quality brush to apply Waterlox. I have found through experiments that this is not true.
  • Wiping on Waterlox is a good method. I have found that this creates a very dull or flat finish and applies the Waterlox in to thin of a coat to be helpful. I also noticed that streaking occurred also.
  • Waterlox is toxic. This is true only when in liquid form. After Waterlox has dried and fully cured it is non-toxic.


Why use Waterlox

Waterlox is a very unique finish that adds great depth and warmth to any species of wood. While Waterlox looks beautiful it also create a very unique finish in the terms of protection, longevity and the ability to be repaired. Waterlox is a tough finish but remains somewhat flexible to allow the wood to move as humidity and temperature changes take place over a period of years. Repairing a damaged finish also is also very easy when using Waterlox. The wood surface can be simply be cleaned and another coat can be applied at anytime.

Materials needed to apply Waterlox

  1. Waterlox Original Sealer/Finisher
  2. Two inch Foam Brushes
  3. Four inch Foam Brushes
  4. Mineral Spirits
  5. Lint Free Rags
  6. Sandpaper

How to Prepare Wood for Waterlox Original Application

Step 1) Sand the wood that you want to apply the Waterlox wood finish to. You will want to progressively sand up to 220 grit. You do not need to heavily sand with the 220 grit.  A couple quick passes will do. Remember that the purpose of sanding is to remove scratches from the wood surface to give the wood a nice appearance.  The finish is what creates a smooth surface rather than heavy sanding.

Step 2) After sanding it is very important to remove every speck of dust on the woods surface. First use a vacuum to pick up all the dust and then use a lint free cloth with a little mineral spirits on it to remove any remaining dust particles. Allow the mineral spirits to evaporate off the wood completely.  Next wash your hands to free them of any oils then wipe the surface of the wood off with your bare hands to remove any remaining dust or lint particles.


Picture of a foam brush used to apply waterlox original finisherHow to Apply Waterlox Original to Wood

Step 1) Pour some Waterlox into a clean glass container. Using a good quality 2 inch foam brush dip it about 1/3 of the way into the Waterlox. Run the tip of the foam brush over the edge of the glass container to remove a small amount of Waterlox to prevent drips.

Step2) Brush the Waterlox onto the wood surface following the grain of the wood. You will notice that the wood almost soaks up all the Waterlox in a short period of time. Allow this coat to dry under perfect conditions for twelve hours. There is no need to worry if you see small bubbles in the finish. Cross ventilation will significantly speed up the drying process.

Step 3) After you have allowed the Waterlox to thoroughly dry apply another coat of Waterlox Original in the same manner you did in step 2. Allow to dry thoroughly for at least 12 hours or more if needed.

Step 4) Lightly sand the wood surface that you applied the Waterlox on with 220 grit sandpaper. Two or three firm passes will do. You will notice white dust appear as you sand., this is the dried Waterlox. Wipe away any dust in perpetration for the next coat of Waterlox.

Step 5) Apply another coat of Waterlox and allow it to thoroughly dry as you did in step 2. This will be the 3rd coat.

Step 6)  After the 3rd coat has dried you will want to sand lightly with 320 grit sandpaper and then 400 grit sandpaper. Clean all dust from the surface.

Step 7) This will be the final coat. If you want or feel that you want another coat before the final coat then repeat step six. For the final coat you will want to apply a liberal coat of the Waterlox Original. Apply a liberal coat along the wood grain in one long, smooth stroke. Make sure that there are no “dry spots” left behind your brush. If there are “dry spots” go over it again. Cross ventilation will help significantly speed up the drying and cure time.

After coating the entire surface allow the Waterlox to rest for about 20 minutes. Using a new (dry) 4 inch foam brush go over the Waterlox in one long smooth stroke. Allow the Waterlox to rest again for 10 to 15 minutes.

You will want to continue dry brushing your Waterlox with the 4 inch foam brush every 5 or 10 minutes. As the Waterlox starts to set up you will remove any bubbles and/or defects as it stats to dry.

You can not over dry brush the Waterlox. You will find that you end up with a very beautiful and defect free wood finish that will last a lifetime as you can see in the pictures below.

Picture of a Walnut wooden storage trunk finished with waterlox original sealer and finisherA woodworking project finished in waterlox original sealer and finisher



Tips for Applying Waterlox Original Finish

  • Remember that this guide is only for Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish
  • Waterlox must not be stored with air in the container or it will gel solid
  • Do not blow off dust, this causes it to be airborne and will then settle in the finish
  • You can reuse foam brushes if you wash them out with mineral spirits
  • Use good quality foam brushes
  • You can’t over dry brush
  • Cross ventilation will speed up the drying process, use caution though as fans can stir up dust.
  • When applying thicker coats you will have to apply Waterlox on flat surfaces or you will have runs.
  • Do not apply furniture polish or wax to the newly finished surface. Waterlox will continue to cure over the next 60 days.

29 thoughts to “Wood Finishing – How to Apply Waterlox Original Sealer and Finisher 2014”

  1. Thanks on your marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed reading it, you may be a great author.

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  2. I just completed my walnut butcher block countertop with Waterlox and achieved excellent results by following your step by step procedure. The 400 grit sandpaper and the frequent stroking with the sponge brush made the difference. Prior to that l had a gritty surface. Thanks for your help!

  3. Hi, I would like to waterproof an old barn board table top that has coat of paste wax on it. Do I need to remove the paste wax before applying the Waterloo? Thanks

  4. i applied a second coat of waterlox original sealer and it looks streaky and wet. do i need to sand this down and start over or should i go ahead and try a third coat first? I just found your site while i was searching for waterlox mistakes. I did not use foam brush. Wondering if i used foam brush on third coat like you suggest if that would fix the issue without me having to stat completely over? Because lord the odor! it’s nauseating!

  5. Thank you so so much for this information. I am using Waterlox for the first time to finish new butcher block countertops I am installing. Your process is working flawlessly. I also found a particular series of you tube videos where the guy outlined the same basic process as you, which only made me more confident. The countertops are turning out beautifully.

  6. I have read your suggestions as I am having difficulties with a seedy, grainy, and bubbly surface after drying. I have followed the procedures from Waterlox and have read much inconsistent information on the internet from others regarding application technique, brushes, etc. When you talk about “dry brushing” as it dries, are you using a new/dry brush each time/every 5-10 minutes to help alleviate the bubbles? I also watched a video in which the guy used a foam brush and just kept brushing over and over again until it was almost dry–everything else I have read said that “overbrushing” is what causes bubbles?? Help! Had my pine bar top sanded down completely smooth with 320 for final coat, and now still grainy! Wondering if I a having trouble because of the change of formula you were talking about?

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