Waterlox ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish

Our Waterlox ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish has had many names over its 100 years of existence, but it has always been the same beautiful resin-modified tung oil finish handmade in Cleveland, OH. It is the go-to product for many wood enthusiasts on any project from flooring, countertops and vanities, to turned bowls, ornate furniture and thousands of other woodworking projects.

What is Waterlox ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish?

Waterlox ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish has been a popular wood finish for over 100 years. The formulation has been in existence since the founding of the Empire Varnish Co. (now Waterlox Coatings) in 1910 in Cleveland, OH. It is still made by hand from pure tung oil and phenolic resins to create a truly beautiful, durable and one of a kind finish that looks and works great on any wood project.

Waterlox ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish is a solvent-based, resin-modified tung oil finish that is delivered in mineral spirits. It will produce a beautiful warm/amber finish that enhances and shows off the beauty of the wood. Due to its solvent content, it may not be available in your region in the quantities desired or, in rare instances, not at all. There are some alternatives that may be available that still hold true to our goal of protecting and enhancing the wood. See the Lower VOC, Low Odor Alternatives section further down for more information.

One Product, Many Names

This same product has been around for over 100 years and has gone through a few name changes and label designs, as well as gained some informal names throughout the world. It has been going by the name of Waterlox ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish since the late 1990s and has been in the tan label with the rust colored band at the top for equally as long. In the past (and cans still exist and are still good) it went by the name of Waterlox Transparent. Currently, it is also labeled as Waterlox ORIGINAL Semi-Gloss Finish. These are the more formal names used to identify this product specifically, but many people simply refer to it as Waterlox, Waterlox ORIGINAL or ORIGINAL S/F. We at Waterlox Coatings make a variety of different products, but unless otherwise noted, the ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish is usually what people are referring to when they say simply “Waterlox”.

One constant across all names and even private labels is that the product number has always been 5284. If you have a can or are shopping, this 5284 will always and has always designated this one particular product. For more information on that product number and where to find that information please see this guide.

Where to Use Waterlox ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish

Waterlox ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish works well on any wood project and it can be used a multitude of ways.


One of the most popular uses of the Waterlox ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish is for fine woodworking. This includes turned bowls and pens, jewelry boxes, workbenches, furniture and any other project worthy of finishing. It is very versatile in how it can be applied, so it is suitable for virtually any project. See our Woodworking Solutions area for more information.

Countertops, Tabletops and Vanities

Waterlox ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish is also popular for countertops as it creates an equally beautiful, durable and protective finish that is food-safe and non-toxic when cured. It can be used by itself or with other Waterlox stains and finishes to achieve different colors and gloss levels. See our Countertop Solutions area for more information and product recommendations.


Waterlox ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish was initially developed solely as a floor finish. It creates a durable, elastic finish that penetrates into the wood while also building a durable, protective layer on the surface. The ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish will wear well and maintain a high level of protection even when worn. It can be used by itself or with other Waterlox stains and finishes to achieve different colors and gloss levels. See our Flooring Solutions area for more information and product recommendations.

Due to the size of flooring projects and local VOC rules and regulations, the ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish may not be available in the desired quantities (or at all) to complete large projects. See the Lower VOC, Low Odor Alternatives section further down for more information.

Doors, Cabinets, Trim, Ceilings and other Finish Carpentry

Waterlox ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish is popular on any wood project which includes doors, trim, molding, cabinetry, mantels and any other wood surface in and around your home. Application of the ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish can be done using many different methods including, but not limited to, wiping, spraying, and brushing, so it is well suited for virtually any project and any situation. See our Doors, Cabinets, and Carpentry Solutions area for more information.

Exterior Projects

Yes, Waterlox ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish can even be used on some exterior projects. It cannot hold up to regular direct sun exposure, but will perform beautifully on non-sun exposed projects like porch ceilings, three season porches and other similar situations. It has been around since before HVAC in homes, so it does quite well in non-climate controlled environments, it just cannot hold up well to regular direct UV exposure. It can be used as a base coat under our MARINE Finishes to achieve UV resistance. See the Outdoor Solutions area for more information.

Non-Wood Projects

Although somewhat rare, Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish is also used on non-wood projects. It adheres well to almost any surface and can penetrate and seal other porous materials other than wood. Most common would be concrete, stone, and tile. Please visit the Non-Wood Surfaces Solutions area for more information.

Lower VOC, Low Odor Alternatives

The Waterlox ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish, as well as the other finishes in the ORIGINAL product family are traditional solvent-based finishes that use mineral spirits as the main solvent. This makes them higher VOC products and may mean that they are unavailable in your state, region, or country. See the VOC Rules and Laws guide for a little more information. Our product selectors and guide builders will ask for zip code information in an effort to only provide you with the products that are available to use in your region. Also, while all of our product options may be available in your area, for your own personal reasons, you may want to consider a lower VOC, lower odor option for your personal project. Below are some alternatives and options that will still allow you to get the beauty and durability of a Waterlox finish without using the ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish.

UNIVERSAL Tung Oil Sealer

The UNIVERSAL Tung Oil Sealer (UTOS for short) was developed as a very low VOC, very low odor sealer option. It uses the same tung oil and resins as the ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish, but is delivered in a high solids, very low solvent option. It provides the same final color, beauty and depth that the ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish provides with some additional benefits. See the Advantages of the Universal Tung Oil Sealer guide for a little more information. Just like the ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish, the UTOS is an excellent sealer choice and can be used as a base coat under most of our other finishes (MARINE, ORIGINAL, URETHANE, H2OLOX, and VOC Compliant).


  • The ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish could be used on its own and if enough coats are applied it will build up to a waterproof finish. The UTOS does require a different finish on top to become fully waterproof. From the UNIVERSAL Tung Oil Sealer product page you can use the Find Your Finishing System tool and the Finish Comparison Matrix can help you to identify what you may need for your project.
  • The UNIVERSAL Tung Oil Sealer is a rub in, rub off product. While this can be a major advantage for vertical and inverted surfaces, it may create a problem on particularly rough surfaces like reclaimed lumber or rough hewn beams. See the Special Cases guide for some additional Information.

H2OLOX Finishes

The H2OLOX product family took many years of research and development to achieve the same look and beauty of the ORIGINAL product family and deliver it in a very low VOC and very low odor water-based formula. The H2OLOX finishes are not a standard water-based finish, but they are an emulsion of the same tung oil and resin system as the ORIGINAL delivered in water. For more information, please visit the H2OLOX product page.


  • The H2OLOX finishes will require the use of a sealer to eliminate or minimize the effects of putting water onto raw wood (possible discoloration, grain raise, roughness or loss of dry). Our UNIVERSAL Tung Oil Sealer or TRUETONE Color-Infused Tung Oils are great for the initial sealing of the wood. The ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish can be used for 1-2 coats as a sealer as well. See the Find Your Finishing System tool and the Finish Comparison Matrix to identify what you may need for your project.

VOC Compliant ORIGINAL Products

If you are still interested in using solvent-based products, an alternative to the ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish would be our VOC Compliant Sealer/Finish. It is almost an exact copy of the ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish, however mineral spirits has been mostly replaced with a specialty solvent. Application, dry times, spread rates are all identical to the ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish.


  • The VOC Compliant Sealer/Finish is still solvent-based. So they are technically lower in VOC content, they still have a strong odor. Some have argued that its worse than the ORIGINAL.
  • At <350 g/L VOC, they may still not be available in some states and regions. Again, our guide builders and product selectors will eliminate them from any results if that is the case.
Less Amber Options

Waterlox ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish is a resin-modified tung oil finish. Both the resin and the tung oil are amber in color and they provide a beautiful warmth to the surface. In some instances, this is not a desired result.


Urethanes can get a bad reputation, but Waterlox URETHANE products have stood out among the others as a very high quality, oil-modified urethane. They are oil-modified and contain no fillers, so they still provide excellent beauty and durability with none of the yellowing or ambering. The URETHANE is often recommended for maple or neutrally stained (whites and grays) to minimize the amber effect that ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish can cause. See our URETHANE page for more information.

TRUETONE Buff-In Tung Oil Finish

For a more “unfinished” look, the Buff-In Tung Oil Finish will help to seal the wood without putting a true film layer on the surface. Therefore, you do not get the amber layer on the surface and colors stay much more true to what they are. This is still an oil-based product, so it will provide some warmth and richness, but to a much lesser extent than the ORIGINAL Sealer/Finish. The Buff-In Tung Oil finish will leave a very matte, unfinished look.