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Use Finish-Up and clean up a new line of business

How many times have you had to pass up a potentially lucrative on-site job because of problems associated with odor, fumes or overspray.

Ideally, on-site finishers could apply a topcoat over any existing finish without concern about lifting or any incompatibility. We could add color to this topcoat material, allowing us to shade or brighten an existing finish, or even replace lost color, either over the entire surface or just on worn edges. We could use it to grain or pattern for touch-up overfills, especially if it had no softening effect on burn-ins.

Properties of Finish-Up Clear wipe-on coating with good mechanical adhesion to most surfaces, especially existing coatings. • Very durable • Water based • Water cleanup (while wet) • Dries water clear • Low odor • Non-flammable Subsequent applications will not remove previous applications • No overspray • No brushes to clean • Will mix with Blendal powders • Will mix with water miscible pigment stain and concentrates dye stain and dye concentrates • Dries rapidly/can be force-dried in seconds • Does not soften with moderate heat • Print-free in minutes • Non-yellowing • Good barrier coat/burn in sealer • Good graining liquid Available in three sheens: gloss, satin and flat. Can be reduced in sheen with waterborne flatting paste. Solids weight: Gloss 19.65, Satin 19.33, Flat 18.76 Average build wipe on coat .O155 mil (.000155”) or 13 coats = 2 mil dry For interior use only

As a sales rep for Mohawk Finishing Products, I played a part in developing and testing such a product about 20 years ago. It is called Finish-Up, a water-based, wipe-on polyurethane finish that has outstanding adhesion to almost any surface, has no solvent effect on existing finishes and is non-flammable and virtually odorless. It is fast-drying, durable and easy to use.

The basic formulation originally came from the wood-flooring industry. Other manufacturers have made water-based emulsions and dispersions that are similar in many respects, but none were designed as a touch-up product.

You can force-dry Finish-Up quite easily using a hair dryer, heat gun or other source of warm, dry air. A spot repair can be dried in about 10 to 20 seconds, ready for another coat, or for rubbing out. Unlike solvent-based finishes, Finish-Up doesn’t tend to bubble when heated moderately and doesn’t subsequently soften when exposed to heat, such as you would experience in the back of a delivery truck on a summer day.

More importantly, subsequent coats of Finish-Up don’t soften previous coats. When applying several coats of color, you don’t take the chance of removing what you just put on as you will with a padding lacquer.

Although not designed for application with a brush, it will grain very well with a fine brush. Use Blendal Powder for color and clean the brush with water immediately after use. Don’t let it dry on the brush.

Finish-Up also makes an excellent barrier coat or burn-in sealer over standard resin burn in sticks, which tend to re-gloss under solvent-borne lacquers.

Applying the product

Finish-Up is best applied by wiping on a thin, wet film with a soft, smoothly textured cloth or sponge. It is important to avoid flowing it onto the surface.

Additional coats can be applied as soon as the previous coat is dry to the touch. It can be worked wet, but practice to learn the drying properties. For example, you might be able to accomplish six or seven strokes safely, but find that the eighth stroke pulls or leaves a dull streak.

As water-based coatings in general exhibit greater surface tension than solvent-borne coatings, there is a greater tendency for Finish-Up to crawl, bead or fish-eye than lacquer, especially when applied thickly. It is important that the surface is clean and free from oil, wax or silicone. In some cases slightly scuffing the surface will enhance the ability of Finish-Up to wet out the surface without crawling.

The best applying surface for Finish-Up is a finely textured, low-lint, absorbent cloth or pad. Some examples are trace cloth, fine (non-ribbed) cotton knit and microfiber chamois-type cloth such as Sham-Wow. A rounded or cylindrically shaped surface works better than a flat pad. A high-density foam paint roller works very well if it is used with a wiping action rather than rolling. You can vary the size of the applicator according to the area to be coated.

Using a trace cloth

Finish-Up can be applied with a finger pad, made by folding a small piece of trace cloth twice or more to form a corner. Place the index finger underneath the cloth at the corner. Wet the corner of the pad over the index finger with a few drops of Finish–Up. Apply Blendal Powder to the wet pad by touching a finger on the opposite hand to the powder and transferring that powder to the pad. Rub the powder into the pad until the powder is thoroughly wet. Use the pad to wipe on a thin film of colored Finish-Up into the area where color is needed. Feather in this color while wet and allow it to dry. Repeat these processes until the desired level of color is achieved, then apply clear Finish-Up in the appropriate sheen as a topcoat.

For large-surface finish replacement, make an applicator with no corners or wrinkles showing, such as by wrapping a cotton-knit cloth around a medium nap paint roller or a trace cloth around a household sponge. Finish-Up is then applied by wiping on a thin film in a straight line across the surface, preferably with the grain of the wood. Make only one or two strokes over a specific area. Overlap the strokes so that the entire surface is coated and allow to dry. Apply additional coats until the desired thickness is achieved (it will typically take three coats to cover the scratch pattern left by 400-grit sandpaper). Vary the stroke overlap to produce a streak-free finish.


Shading or toning: Mix compatible pigment, dye stain or concentrate with Finish-Up to desired color intensity and allow bubbles to dissipate. Pigment provides some hiding power, while dye creates a transparent, colored coating. It is easier to apply an even color if you make a weaker mixture and apply several coats.

Graining with applied color: Put a drop of Finish-Up on a mixing glass. Wet a graining brush with Finish-Up and dip in Blendal Powder. Mix thoroughly on the mixing glass. Remove excess liquid from the brush with a single stroke across the edge of the mixing glass. Apply grain lines with the brush, rewetting with the mixture when necessary. Brush only where color is needed and avoid overlap. Errors can be quickly wiped off.

Glazing: Put a drop of Finish-Up on a mixing glass, wet a cloth, sponge or brush with Finish-Up and dip the applicator in Blendal Powder. Mix thoroughly on the mixing glass. Apply to the surface in desired pattern (cow tail, mottle, etc.) and quickly remove any excess with cloth. After the surface gas dried, the pattern can be highlighted with steel wool. It’s a good idea to practice to learn how much the glaze can be worked before it sets too much.

Texturing: Mix micro balloons, saw dust, pumice, pigment, bronzing powder or other inert solids with Finish-Up to make a paste. Apply to surface in desired pattern, quickly removing any excess. The dried pattern can also be highlighted with steel wool.

Test first

Finish-Up is designed and formulated for wipe-on application. While under certain circumstances it can be applied by spray or brush, many of those applications are outside of the design parameters and should be tested first.

If it is necessary to spray an aerosol topcoat over Finish-Up, test first in an inconspicuous area since minor crazing can occur.

To re-use an applicator cloth, sponge or roller, thoroughly rinse and wash before the Finish-Up has dried. A wet applicator can be stored in a water- and airtight container.

Learning to use Finish-Up and other waterborne touch-up, coating and coloring products can open the door to increased business and set you ahead of many of your competitors restricted to the solvent-borne materials they’ve always used. Today’s customers are sensitive to environmental concerns and there might be sites that are off limits to aerosol can or spray equipment. There are opportunities everywhere for the technician who takes the time to develop some skill and confidence to go after this market.

This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue.

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