Waterlox® and Gloss Level

Waterlox offers different glosses in many of its product lines based on the principle of manipulating the surface roughness. When designing a Waterlox product, the focus is on providing superior protection while highlighting the beauty of the wood. We have offerings that range from a matte finish through a very high gloss finish. If you would like more information about gloss, see our How Gloss Works guide. For more information about the different Waterlox product families, see the What are Waterlox Finishes guide.

Penetrating Finishes: Very Low Gloss and an “Unfinished Look”

TrueTone and Pure Tung Oil

Our TrueTone line and our Pure Tung Oil offerings will produce a matte finish. This is because they are saturating oil finishes that exist mostly within the wood surface. In general, the surface of the wood is rough on a microscopic level, so it will be low in gloss as we are not smoothing out that surface with products that soak into the wood. This will leave the wood with a more “unfinished look” as it does not appear to have an actual coating layer on the surface of the wood. As these products cure, they do not dry into a clear hard coating. If excess is left on the surface (or if applied to a non-porous surface like glass), it will dry into a soft, white, wrinkled film. You can apply multiple coats to build up to a soft luster, but they will not build into a satin gloss or higher.

Universal Tung Oil Sealer

The Universal Tung Oil Sealer (UTOS) will also produce a matte, unfinished look when dried, however it should never be used on its own. It will seal the wood well, but will not provide the full, waterproof and protective layer needed for proper protection. A film-forming finish is required over UTOS to complete the system (typically two coats).

Waterlox Film-Forming Finishes

For the highest level of protection these products will form a protective water tight barrier over the surface of the wood. For comparisons of Waterlox products and recommended applications of each of the product families, please review the Product Family pages and the Find Your Finishing System page.

Oil-Modified Urethane

Available Gloss Levels – Satin (XL-89), Semi-Gloss (XL-90) and Gloss (XL-88)

Waterlox Oil-Modified Urethanes use a very high quality urethane base that is modified with soya oil. This resin system is naturally high gloss, so flattener is added to lower the gloss to satin and semi-gloss levels.

Marine Finishes

Available Gloss Levels – Satin (TB 6032) and Gloss (TB 3940)

For an exterior project exposed to UV light, we have our Marine Finishes. The Universal Tung Oil Sealer will act as a base coat to get oil and resin into the wood surface to add some structure and protection to the wood surface, as well as provide an anchor for the Marine Finishes. The Marine Finishes will provide the actual UV protective layer. These are different formulations designed specifically to deal with harsh UV exposure. The High Gloss will provide a high clarity coating and a slightly thick and a very glossy film. Because the gloss is determined by how the product reflects light, this high gloss actually helps with the protection. The Marine Satin Finish will provide more of a soft luster and will reduce the final clarity of the film due to the flattening agent used to lower the final gloss.

An important part of any exterior system is the maintenance and upkeep to maintain the integrity and protection of the film. If left unmaintained, our Marine Finishes will begin to fail and can flake/peel. However, a good way to determine if maintenance is needed is to monitor the gloss of the surface. As the gloss starts to look dull/dry (for both Satin and High Gloss), that is the signal to recoat. Clean the surface thoroughly, lightly buff/sand if desired, and reapply one coat of Finish to restore the coating to brand new.

Original Finishes

Available Gloss Levels – Satin (TB 6044), Semi-Gloss (TB 5284), Gloss (TB 3182)

After applying one coat of the Universal Tung Oil Sealer to seal the wood, follow with two coats with the finish of your choice. The Original Semi-Gloss Finish is our true Original, flagship product (see Original Sealer & Semi-Gloss Finish History). The Original products are slightly unique in how they achieve their gloss, but the final result is the same.

  1. The Original Semi-Gloss product is the base product. When applied, it will be relatively high gloss (about 70-75 gloss units), but it will wrinkle slightly as it cures (microscopic level) and settle into a 50-55 degree gloss after the first few weeks or months.
  2. The Original Satin Finish is very similar to the Semi-Gloss, however flattener is added. This is essentially the same as all the other product lines.
  3. The Original Gloss Finish actually has a slight resin change to help lock in the higher gloss and to keep it at a higher gloss.

H2OLOX Finishes

Available Gloss Levels – Matte (TB 2002), Satin (TB 2001) and Gloss (TB 2000)

After applying the Universal Tung Oil Sealer to seal the wood, follow with two coats with the H2OLOX finish of your choice. The different gloss levels are achieved similarly to the Oil-Modified Urethane Products.

Mechanically Changing Gloss – Buffing, Polishing or Rubbing a Finish

If you would like to buff, rub or polish your finish to a different final gloss, that can be done with our film-forming finishes. There is more detailed information in the How Gloss Works guide, but in general, most buffing procedures should work well with Waterlox products. You may also chose to use wax to achieve a final finish, see our Wax and Waterlox guide for more information on that topic. Either way, if you intend to manipulate your finish after the final coat is applied there are a few recommendations.

  1. Allow the final coat to dry/cure for at least 24 hours with good air movement. The 24 hours is an absolute minimum, although more time is recommended to allow the finish to cure harder.
  2. Recommended wait time would be 48-72 hours after the final coat is applied. There would be negligible change in hardness or cure after 7 days.
  3. If you intend to buff out your finish from the outset, I would recommend using a higher gloss finish. These will have the best clarity and are usually easier to apply. Because you will be scuffing the surface anyways, there is no added benefit to starting with a lower gloss product.