Water Based Paints

3 Water Based Paint Video Lessons

10 Water Based Paint FAQs

Can Milk Paint or Gel Stain Be Used Over Laminate?

GF advises extra care and prep when applying any finish over laminate surfaces because they are specifically designed not to mar and therefore they are not very "sand-able", making adherence difficult.

In addition to this non-permeable surface factor, General Finishes Gel Stain is an oil-based product, and it is more difficult to obtain proper drying characteristics over a dense manufactured surface such as laminate. Gel stains, as all wood stains, were formulated to go over raw wood which has an "open" surface and can absorb some of the stain.

Customers have reported the successful use of Gel products over laminate surfaces. Here are two techniques:

  1. Using Dark Chocolate Milk Paint as a Base under Gel Stain (Dark Chocolate Milk Paint was formulated to mimic the color of Java Gel Stain)
     
  2. Several techniques using only Gel Stain/no paint or primer

SOME NOTES:

  • If you can abrade the surface by sanding, you will increase your chances of success. If you choose to proceed, test for adhesion on a hidden area of your project before getting started.
     
  • If you are applying GF Gel Stains over existing "sealed" finished wood or any impenetrable surface, TRIPLE OR QUADRUPLE the drying times of all the finishes used because the stain cannot soak into the surface.
     
  • De-Glossers: GF does not recommend the use of a de-glosser as a REPLACEMENT for prep sanding and cleaning. They are sold by manufacturers that advocate that it is ok to cover up dirt and grime, which can create a problem. GF feels that appropriate cleaning and sanding delivers a better result and saves money.

    If you have physical issues with the labor of sanding, at least clean the project before using a de-glosser.

APPLYING GENERAL FINISHES MILK PAINT TO LAMINATE FOLLOWED BY GEL STAIN DRY BRUSH TECHNIQUE:

  1. “Power clean” by scrubbing with a solution of water and a strong detergent such as Dawn or Spic & Span, using a Scotch-Brite pad. Rinse thoroughly.

    Then follow with a second scrubbing with a 50:50 mix of denatured alcohol and water, also using a Scotch-Brite pad. Let dry completely.
     
  2. Sand with a power sander. 150-grit followed by 180 grit sandpaper. (some users report using 220 grit sandpaper). Wipe off the dust.
     
  3. Apply XIM 400 White Primer Sealer Bonder (follow label applications instructions but let dry longer, 12 hours or overnight.)
     
  4. Apply 2 coats of Milk Paint allowing triple drying time. Use Dark Chocolate if you are trying to mimic the look of Java Gel Stain.
     
  5. Apply Java Gel Stain. While wet, immediately use a mineral spirit dry brush technique to create a wood grain effect. Dip a clean brush in mineral spirits and drag over the surface until you achieve the effect you want, continually discharging the excess stain.

    Watch a good video demonstrating a dry brush technique here.

    Allow the Gel Stain to DRY 72 HOURS or longer if necessary.
     
  6. Seal with a topcoat, allowing extra dry time. In GF's finish line, you can use General Finishes Arm-R-Seal (this topcoat ambers) over dark colors and General Finishes High Performance over light colors.

APPLYING GEL STAIN DIRECTLY TO LAMINATE:

  • “Power clean” by scrubbing with a solution of water and a strong detergent such as Dawn or Spic & Span, using a Scotch-Brite pad. Rinse thoroughly.

    Then follow with a second scrubbing with a 50:50 mix of denatured alcohol and water, also using a Scotch-Brite pad. Let dry completely.
     
  • Sand with a power sander. 150-grit followed by 180-grit sandpaper. (some users reported using 220 grit sandpaper). Wipe off the dust.

You can apply Java Gel Stain several ways:

  • With a roller for a painted effect (from ABHall), painting on with a chip brush followed by pouncing with a plastic bag for a textured effect from Denise Wonders Beatty.
     
  • Brushing on followed by a mineral spirit dry-brush technique. See mineral spirits dry-brushing technique in this video. 
     
  • Apply a slip-coat of mineral spirits first using a chip brush to give you more open time. While the mineral spirits is still wet, paint the Gel Stain on using a chip brush. While the Gel Stain is still wet, GENTLY smooth out the surface with a folded blue shop towel going in the direction of the grain.

    Tip from Andrea Allred: Dry brush Gray Gel Stain on top the next day for a weathered look. 
     
  • Paint on two coats of Gel Stain, letting each coat dry 72 hours. Create the look of faux wood by sanding each coat lightly.
     
  • Allow the Gel Stain to DRY 72 HOURS. If it is still tacky and cool to the touch, let it dry for days. Let it dry, let it dry, let it dry. Lack of dry time over existing surfaces is the number one reason for Gel Stain failure!
     
  • Seal with 3 coats of topcoat, allowing triple dry time. As previously stated, you can use Arm-R-Seal over dark colors and High Performance over light colors.

NOTE: When using fine wood finishes, water and spills must be wiped up in a timely fashion. If this a high-use area near a sink, consider replacing the countertop instead. If this a low-use area such as a bedroom dresser that needs a tune-up, you will be fine.

ADHESION TEST:
Test your entire procedure (preparation to topcoat) on a hidden area first and let it cure for 7-10 days. Then further test the finish by duplicating normal wear and tear: washing, scrubbing, scratching, etc. to make sure the finish bonds to the surface.

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.

How Can I Get GF Water Based Finishes Off of a Mirror?

Any GF water-based finish can be removed from a mirror using 0000 steel wool and Windex.

Wet the steel wool with Windex and buff the glass. (The steel wool won't harm the mirror but make sure that you don't apply so much liquid that it seeps into the backing.) Wipe the mirror down with a clean/dry paper towel.

However, you can prevent a mistake from happening by applying Frisket to your mirror BEFORE applying finish to the frame. Frisket is a clear finish that brushes on, dries and peels off when you are done painting.

*Windex Warning: Make sure you do not get Windex on water-based finishes. The ammonia in Windex may cause a cloudy appearance to the finish.

How Do I Repair Chipping Paint Applied Over an Existing Finish?

There is no easy solution to this problem. General Finishes Milk Paint has strong adhesion properties but there are several reasons this finish could fail:

  1. The cabinets were not prep cleaned and sanded properly. Sanding and cleaning are an essential part of any refinishing process. Sanding lightly with the correct sandpaper grit will help clean and smooth the surface, but it will also abrade the previous finish which gives the new paint something to grip onto. Product may not adhere properly to a surface that is un-sanded or that is over-sanded (making the surface too smooth).

    In most cases, you can use a 220 sanding pad to scuff the surface and clean with a 50|50 mix of water and denatured alcohol.
     
  2. The surface was contaminated with a dusting spray that contained silicone. Silicone is usually impossible to remove. You can try scrubbing the surface with a strong detergent such as Spic and Span and warm water combination using a gray Scotchbrite pad. After that clean with denatured alcohol full strength.

    In most cases, you need to strip and sand, but there is no guarantee of success. Test a small area first.
     
  3. The surface was contaminated with a previous wax finish. Wax is also difficult or impossible to remove. Nothing adheres well to wax, and once you use it the wood grain can become contaminated. The wax can penetrate the wood, making future paint or stain finishes or touch-ups difficult or impossible. Even though there is internet chatter about removing wax with 3rd party products or mineral spirits, the risk of a failure in re-coating over a wax finish is very high.
     
  4. The surface was contaminated with an oil based soap.
  5. A lack of compatibility with the deglosser.
  6. A lack of compatibility with another manufacturer's top coat.

 

The most likely suspect is contamination. If any wax or silicone-based product has been used on the original surface, adhesion problems such as bubbling and chipping can be expected.

 

You could try spot sanding then repainting the chipped areas but that rarely is a good solution - we think the problem will continue to occur.

 

We recommend getting the cabinets into a paintable condition by doing the following:

  1. Sand back all the new paint and cleaning with a high strength detergent such as Spic and Span mixed with warm water. Rinse thoroughly and let dry.
     
  2. Prep sand with a 220-grit sanding PAD - do not use a finer grit or the new paint won't hold.
     
  3. Scrub with a Scotch-Brite Pad and a 50\50 mix of denatured alcohol and water. When preparing any surface we highly recommend using a 50/50 mix of denatured alcohol and water instead of commercial cleaning solutions.

    The mix is more effective because it has a higher alcohol content, you can get denatured alcohol locally, and it is cheaper. Many commercial cleaning solutions have extremely high VOCs while denatured alcohol is much lower.

    Furthermore, the 50/50 mix does not have salt in it. The salt in commercial cleaning solutions could linger in the substrate and cause salt contamination when clear coating at the end of your project, which could create a white haze.
     
  4. Test one door, letting the surface cure for 7 days to see if the problem duplicates itself. If this is silicone contamination, it may be impossible to remove the silicone completely.

If your test does not work, stripping is the only answer. We know this is not what you want to hear, but we hope that this insight will help you to achieve your desired end result.

Future forward, when working with a pre-existing finish with no knowledge of previous wood care, always test a hidden area before proceeding with the entire project.

Watch how to power prep existing high-use finishes for stain or paint like kitchen cabinetry here.

Why Does GF Milk Paint Look Different When Applied with a Spray Gun Versus a Brush Application?

Milk Paint is not like a filler-based wall paint. It is engineered for high-use applications such as tabletops and cabinets that require considerably more durability than a wall. The resins that make Milk Paint durable change the properties of it, so you have to handle it differently.

The type of applicator you use will change the thickness of the film and affect the appearance GF Milk Paint.

When refinishing kitchen cabinets, our contractor customers often roll the face frames and spray the doors. If there are any corners or edges that need to be filled in with a brush, they will fill in before spraying or rolling. Then, they will complete the entire section with one type applicator.

With this approach, you will notice a slight difference between the frame and the cabinet door, but the difference is considerably less obvious than it would be if you sprayed and rolled on this same surface. 

Secondly, always stir the can well just BEFORE and DURING use. When working with a large project, we recommend continuing to stir during use to keep color properties consistent. If there is any delay, the ingredients will start separating.

Color separation is a condition that the paint industry calls "float". This is very typical with specific colors such as grays because of the large variance in gravities of the pigments required to create the color. In gray for instance, Ti02 (white) is 3.4 and black is 1.62. The lower density will float. This phenomena will not occur in colors that have less variance in densities.

Here is an example of Milk Paint color separation:GF University FAQ: Milk Paint Color Separation

 

Why Is My Application of Milk Paint Not Adhering on Previously Finished Cabinets?

There are several reasons:

1. The cabinets were not prep cleaned and sanded properly. Sanding and cleaning are an essential part of any refinishing process.

In most cases, you can use a 220 sanding pad to scuff the surface and clean with a 50|50 mix of water and denatured alcohol.

Video Tutorial: How to Prep Existing High Use Finishes for Stain or Paint

2. The surface was contaminated with a dusting spray that contained silicone. Silicone is usually impossible to remove.

You can try scrubbing the surface with a strong detergent such as Spic and Span and warm water combination using a gray Scotchbrite pad. After that clean with denatured alcohol full strength. In most cases, you need to strip and sand, but there is no guarantee of success. Test a small area first.

3. The surface was contaminated with a previous wax finish. Wax is also difficult or impossible to remove. Nothing adheres well to wax, and once you use it the wood grain can become contaminated. The wax can penetrate the wood, making future paint or stain finishes or touch-ups difficult or impossible. Even though there is internet chatter about removing wax with 3rd party products or mineral spirits, the risk of failure in re-coating over a wax finish is very high.

GF does offer a lovely General Finishes Satin Finishing Wax, but we recommend the use of topcoats such as our water-based General Finishes High Performance or General Finishes Flat Out Flat for a reliable sealant. We promote glaze effects and stains as other means for adding depth to refinished furniture. 

4. The surface was contaminated with an oil based soap.

5. There was not enough dry time in between coats relative to the temperature and humidity. Ideal Conditions are 70 degrees F and 70% humidity. Refinishing furniture in a space that is below or above the 65-75 degrees F range can lead to problems. The colder your space it is, the longer you have to wait between coats. Cold temperatures slow the dry time and affect how quickly the finish will level, harden and cure.

Our easy rule of thumb is; if it is cold enough to wear a sweater it is too cold to apply a water-based finish.

What is the Best Applicator to use for Milk Paint and Water Based Topcoat?

Either bristle or foam brushes will work well with Milk Paint and Top Coat. The folks at GF might use several types of brushes for a project.

For example:

  • We like to use a bristle brush (which loads up more paint) to get Milk Paint on the surface, and then use a water or Extender dampened foam brush to smooth out the finish.​
  • ​​​​​​Bristle brushes are particularly helpful on vertical and detailed surfaces but they can produce subtle texture.
  • Foam brushes tend to produce a smoother finish which can be particularly helpful on flat horizontal surfaces.
  • Pad Applicators or paint rollers are also helpful on larger horizontal surfaces such as a table top.

For folks who don't want to invest in several brushes, the foam brush is our recommendation.

The very best application method is spraying.

Will Milk Paint Adhere Over a Paper Veneer Finish?

We cannot guarantee that our paints will adhere well to a paper veneer - we have no idea what the actual material is or what adhesives were used to apply the veneer to the surface. The resins and additives in our paints may break down the adhesives used for the veneer.

General Finishes Milk Paints have an excellent adhesion factor and might well be successful.  If you can abrade the surface with sandpaper, you will increase your chance of success. 

For best possible results, follow these steps:

PREPARATION:

VIDEO: How to Prep Sand Raw Wood
VIDEO: How to Prep Clean an Existing Finish
VIDEO: How to Power Prep Existing High Use Finishes

TEST:

Test your procedure on a hidden area first and let cure for 7-10 days. Then further test the finish by duplicating normal and tear such as washing, scrubbing, scratching, etc to see if the finish has bonded to the surface.  

PRIMER:

If your finish adheres well, you should be ok to continue.  If the finish comes off easily, we recommend trying a sealing binder primer before you apply the paint, such as XIM 400 White Primer Sealer Bonder or whatever is recommended for paper veneer at your local hardware or paint store.  Again, TEST!

APPLY PRODUCT:

Apply product directly over the primer and seal with 2-3 coats of GF Top Coat. We recommend using General Finishes High Performance Topcoat over Milk Paint because it's water-based and dries clear.

Why Are Some Milk Paint Colors Thinner and More Translucent Than Others?

The ability of a paint to "hide" (cover) the existing underlying finish color is dependent on a number of factors. One factor is colorants and the other is filler. Colorants affect the viscosity of durable furniture paints, making some paints thinner than others. GF could add more filler, making Milk Paint similar to wall paint, but that would reduce the durability.

When covering existing medium-dark finishes, at least 2 coats of primer is recommended. Even with the use of a primer, additional coats of paint may be necessary.   

When covering lighter colored finishes, it may take 3+ coats of paint to achieve acceptable hide.

If you want a light color that has better coverage, consider General Finishes Chalk Style Paint.

How Can I Improve Coverage When Using White Paint on Furniture?*

A primer is your best defense under light-colored paint.

Another technique to avoid the slight color change that sometimes occurs when applying topcoat is to add 10-15% of the paint you are using to your topcoat. This technique layers additional coats of color over your piece as well as providing the protection of a topcoat. If you don't like measuring, just add enough paint until you can see a bit of the hue in the topcoat. This method works with a brush or a spray gun.

To maintain the full-strength protection of the topcoat, DO NOT TINT YOUR FINAL COAT of topcoat.

Remember, NEVER EVER paint an existing piece of furniture with a light paint without proper preparation AND a stain blocking primer. Topcoats can activate tannins in the wood, or dyes in the previous finish, causing yellow or pink bleed-through. We recommend General Finishes Stain Blocker, which has been developed specifically for upcycling furniture and has proven to be 100% effective when two coats are applied, or Zinsser BIN.

Here is a sample finishing schedule:

  1. Prep clean and sand
  2. Three coats of paint (or four if needed)
  3. Two coats of topcoat mixed with 10-15% paint
  4. One coat of topcoat

VIDEO: How to update or refinish cabinets and woodwork light paint color using a sprayer.