Mar 212007
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The Great Hydrocote Brushing ControversyHydrocote products have been Highland Woodworking’s primary water-based finish for many years. Professionals and enthusiasts have come to rely on Hydrocote’s overall quality, durability and broad choice of supporting products. They make a polyurethane for floors and tables, a lacquer for general cabinet work and an exterior urethane for outdoor projects.
In Fine Woodworking’s Dec. 2006 issue (#187), Chris Minick wrote an excellent article on water-based finishes. A lot has changed with these finishes over the years, and they’ve done nothing but get better. In the article, the author applied all the test products with a brush and concluded that Hydrocote’s Resisthane was the best value. We’ve always said Resisthane makes a good choice for professionals because it’s inexpensive, extremely durable, dries very fast and doesn’t require a large investment in spray booth equipment.
The controversy began with a letter to the editor of Fine Woodworking in the April 2007 issue (#190). In the letter, a customer came to our store to purchase some Hydrocote Resisthane based on the review in the article in issue #187. On the can of Resisthane the customer read a warning not to apply the product with a brush because of the fast drying time. Chris Minick then replied that one could certainly brush waterborne finishes as long as you didn’t overwork the wet finish and allow it to flow out. We certainly agree with this assessment. The reason Hydrocote and Highland recommend spraying Resisthane is that it does dry fast. We have found over the years of taking technical calls and talking to end users that most folks who are new to water-based finishes don’t follow the instructions completely and tend to overwork the finish. Perhaps they are used to slower drying oil based finishes that require a bit of tipping off with the brush. Thus, they get poor results with water-based finishes. Consequently, we now carry a line of water-based finishes by Ceramithane that doesn’t dry as fast and flows out better when brushed on. Can you brush Resisthane? Of course, you can, but if you’re the type of person that likes to mess around with the finish after it’s on, then consider the slower drying Ceramithane.
Chris Black

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