What are Waterlox Finishes?

Waterlox is our company name and we manufacture and sell a variety of finishes. If you have searched our website, you’ll see numerous references to our finishes as well as other finishes and some comparisons between the many types. This guide aims to provide a little more technical background on the Waterlox product families. For a more general discussion, please read our Types of Finishes discussion and for more information about where each Waterlox product family can/should be used or how they can be mixed and matched, please visit the Products pages or the Find Your Finishing System guide.

In general, there are two types of finishes: penetrating and film-forming. Waterlox provides a few options in each category.

Penetrating Finishes

Our penetrating finishes include the Universal Tung Oil Sealer, TrueTone and Pure Tung Oil. Standard application for these products will included buffing, rubbing, trowel apply, or wiping in the product and then wiping off of the excess. Aside from the Universal Tung Oil Sealer (UTOS), these can be considered fully finished with the proper number of coats. They will yield an “unfinished look” and a generally matte or flat sheen appearance.

  • Pure Tung Oil
    • Just as described. The same Tung Oil that we use as an ingredient in many of our other finishes.
    • Sold at 100% solids. For ease of use, it is usually recommended to cut in mineral spirits or citrus solvent.
    • Tung Oil is the best naturally occurring drying oil. It has a high percentage of α-eleostearic acid, which is a long chain with three conjugated double bonds. This means it dries quickly and has a high level of cross-linking naturally.
  • TrueTone
    • Colors: Pigments dispersed in Tung Oil and a proprietary resin thinned with mineral spirits. These are very high solids “stains” that are mostly Tung Oil, so they act as a protective layer as well. The colors need to be sealed in with some form of clear coat.
    • Buff-In Tung Oil Finish: A high solids blend of mostly Tung Oil (>80%) and a proprietary resin. This resin improves the chemical resistance and the curing speed of the Tung Oil while not affecting water resistance.
  • Universal Tung Oil Sealer1
    • The UTOS is high in solids (>85%) and is a blend of mostly Tung Oil with resin and driers. It dries very quickly and forms a loose “film” to seal in wood tannins and stains.
    • It needs to be topcoated with a film-forming finish to form a continuous waterproof layer. It works well under Original, Marine, H2OLOX or our Urethane finishes.

Film-Forming Finishes

Our film-forming finishes are comprised of the Original, H2OLOX, Marine and Urethane product families. The standard application will be applying a wet coat of finish (brush, pad, t-bar, etc.) and then letting it dry. There is a variety of sheen options available from matte through high gloss and they will result in a much more “finished look”.

  • Original
    • This is the true original line of products made from Tung Oil that is modified with resin. These are reacted together to create a finish that forms a hard clear film with excellent water protection and durability. The main solvent that is used is mineral spirits.
  • H2OLOX
    • This is a water reducible version of our Original product line. Water is used to deliver the same Tung Oil and resin base product as the Original line. Due to some slight formulation tweaks to mix oil and water, the films are slightly harder.
  • Marine
    • A Tung Oil based alkyd varnish in mineral spirits that would generally be considered a spar varnish. It has a higher oil to resin ratio compared to our Original products to allow for greater flexibility and to resist cracking chipping and peeling when used on outdoor surfaces.
    • This should not be used on interior surface as it relies on the UV for some of the curing.
    • They are not “more waterproof” than the Original products. They are called Marine because they are popular for use on boat’s wood work ABOVE the waterline.
  • Urethane
    • A soya oil modified urethane resin in mineral spirits. Very similar to other oil modified urethanes on the market, however, it has no added fillers or linseed oil. This results in a clearer, less amber/yellow film that rivals water-based urethane products.
    • Dries harder and faster than the Original products and has plastic like protection and chemical resistance. Good for use in commercial areas to minimize down time and provide protection from commercial cleaners.
    • Recoating and maintenance are generally more labor-intensive and sanding is required.

1 The UTOS cannot be used on its own. It needs to be used in conjunction with a film-forming finish to fully seal the surface.

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