GF Product Overview

8 GF Product Overview Events

10 GF Product Overview Video Lessons

10 GF Product Overview FAQs

What are the Renewable Resources in General Finishes Products?

General Finishes Renewable Resources - Water Based FinishesRenewable resources are a recent, eco-friendly advancement in the paint and coatings industry. 

They are comprised of plant proteins such as corn; as well as conventional and innovative oils derived from plants such as Euphorbia lagascaeVernonia galamensis from the sunflower family, and Calendula officinalis, aka marigold.

General Finishes products formulated with renewable resources meet the standard of excellence you have come to expect---including adhesion, coverage, color and durability---with all benefits of water finishes.

GF coatings made with Renewable Resources are: Enduro-Var II, Milk Paint, Water Based Wood Stain, Exterior 450 Stain and Wood Turner's Finish. Look for the green icon!

How Important is the "Hardness" of a Wood Finish?

The hardness properties of a wood finish are formulated around the objectives of use. A hard finish is desirable on projects that get heavy wear such as kitchen cabinets or table tops. 

But in other situations, such as an outdoor topcoat, a desired property of the finish is elongation, which allows the topcoat to expand and contract through different extremes of temperature. 

A flooring finish is another example where hardness is not the major objective of the formulation. Just like outdoor furniture, wood floors expand and contract through the seasons of the year, responding to heat, air conditioning and changes in humidity. The floor finish needs to elongate or flex as the wood moves.

This can be problematic for floors which are often subject to heavy use, including dogs nails. Pet nails will not scratch a good floor finish all the way through the wood, but the nails will indent or imprint the surface of the floor.

It is impossible to combine equal properties of flexibility and hardness in a floor finish, so you have to accept some limitations at the outset. You can improve the life of your wood floor finish by selecting a denser wood for your floors, hickory, maple or white oak instead of pine for instance.

Or just live with the indentations. This is another instance where dogs rule.

Heavy sunlight will also affect harder finishes applied in sun-saturated areas such as window sills, causing finishes to become brittle and crack.

You can keep costs down and have a better result if you match the properties of the finish to the needs of the project.

One of General Finishes hardest water based topcoats is General Finishes Enduro Conversion Varnish, which requires a catalyst and is recommend for use by professionals. It cures in half the time of most topcoats, allowing the finisher to pack and ship sooner, but the price point would make it overkill for other uses. Other factoids:

It is impossible to combine equal properties of flexibility, hardness and chemical resistance in a finish, so be sure to select the correct product for your finishing project.

Does Glaze Effects Require Topcoat?

Absolutely. All stains and glazes require a sealant. Think of the stain or glaze as the color and the topcoat as protection.

Does Milk Paint Need To Be Sealed with a Topcoat or Wax?

No, General Finishes Milk Paint is premium paint developed for commercial applications and is durable enough to stand up to most wear without top coat.

If increased sheen or maximum durability for high-use areas (cabinets, table tops) is required, GF recommends applying 2-3 coats of GF's High Performance or Enduro professional topcoats.

When working with a white Milk Paint color, GF recommends that you use a wood primer such as General Finishes Stain Blocker beforehand, and seal with General Finishes Enduro White Poly or General Finishes Brushable White Enamel.

General Finishes offers Satin Finishing Wax, High Performance Topcoat in 4 sheens (Flat, Satin, Semi-Gloss and Gloss), Flat Out Flat Topcoat and Glaze Effects to compliment the Milk Paints.

Milk Paint is also a superior exterior-rated finish.

Is General Finishes Milk Paint Different From Their Professional Paint Line?

Both products are exactly the same - the only difference is size. Professional paints are sold in gallons for use in spray applications, whereas Retail Milk Paints are sold in pints and quarts.

General Finishes are particularly durable because they were originally created for commercial use.

Can Oil and Water Based Products Be Used Over Each Other?*

Yes! But you must follow ONE simple rule to ensure the best possible finish: the underlying finish must be absolutely dry.

  • When using a water-based product over an oil-based product, such as water-based High Performance Topcoat over oil-based Gel Stain, wait 72 hours before applying the water-based product.
  • When using an oil-based product over a water-based product, such as oil-based Arm-R-Seal Topcoat over Water Based Wood Stain, wait 24 hours before applying the oil-based product.


  • You cannot mix water- and oil-based products together.
  • General Finishes Enduro-Var Urethane Topcoat can only be used over raw wood or General Finishes water-based wood stains or dye stains. Enduro-Var cannot be used with any oil-based product, sanding sealer or shellac.
  • Oil-based finishes amber over time; do not use them over white or very light colors.

VIDEO: Can oil and water based products be used over one another?

How is a Flooring Topcoat Different than a Furniture or Cabinet Finish?

Three features differentiate flooring topcoats:

  1. General Finishes flooring topcoats, such as Pro Image and Pro Shield, are fortified with significantly more urethane to increase durability.
  2. The slip rate of flooring topcoats is higher to improve floor safety and reduce the likelihood of slipping; approximately a 5.7 rating. For example, someone in socks is less likely to slip on a flooring finish, or a basketball player is less likely to slip on a good professional floor finish. Cabinet finishes have a much lower (negative) slip rate because folks want a silky, smooth finish on a cabinet or furniture; approximately a -.4 rating.
  3. A floor finish has more elongation - the finish stretches to provide flexibility over expanding and contracting woods.

Are GF Products Compatible with Other Brands?

A good rule of thumb is to not mix brands. It might work, it might not. Most paint manufacturers formulate their products to be compatible within a "system" of products.

Can I Apply Water and Oil Based Products on the Same Project?

Yes! But you must follow a few simple rules to be sure you achieve the best possible finish.

  • When using a water based product over an oil based product, such as High Performance Topcoat over Oil Based Gel Stain, wait 72 hours between the two products.  
  • When using an oil based product over a water based product, such as Arm-R-Seal Topcoat over Water Based Stain, wait 24 hours between the two products. 

Please see our video where we discuss how oil and water based products can be used over each other here.

Remember that you cannot mix water and oil based products together.

General Finishes Enduro-Var Urethane Topcoat cannot be used with any oil based product or sanding sealer.

Can I Use General Finishes Products Over Wall Paint?

You can use GF products over wall paint but proceed with caution. Latex wall paints are engineered for a different purpose than wood finishes. Walls generally experience less wear and tear than horizontal surfaces, so they are manufactured without the resin systems that make furniture paint more durable.

DRY TIME: Latex wall paints should cure for 7-10 days before glaze or top coat can be added.

WARNING: Keep in mind that GF cannot guarantee an ideal finish when applying our products on top of or in combination with another company's products. We always recommend that you test for durability and aesthetics on an unseen area of your project before getting started.