Hand Application of Waterborne Finishes

Advice on choosing an applicator for waterbornes. September 18, 2014

Question (WOODWEB Member) :
When spraying is not an option what type of cloth can be used to wipe on waterborne finish that won't leave fibers in the finish? Or is there a better application method? I've tried pad, roller and lambís wool with less than smooth results.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor P:
I would never use a cloth for this purpose. I've had decent results using foam brushes (the more expensive ones work better.) You can also use an additive to extend the open time of the finish, as large surfaces can be a challenge. Work fast and use a bigger brush for large surfaces. A soft nylon bristle brush is better for surfaces with lots of detail.

From contributor D:
Foam brush is the best.

From contributor F:
When I have had to brush waterbornes, I like to use a synthetic, white taklon brush. Getting the right kind of brush (that holds the right amount of material, and doesn't leave bubbles) is critical. Homestead finishing products has some good recommendations for this. When it comes to foam brushes, your mileage might vary. I have never been too impressed with any finish applied with a foam brush. People claim to achieve good results, but the definition of good may vary, and not be up to your standards. You have to try and see for yourself. Maybe there is some magical higher quality foam brush, but I have yet to have an opportunity to experience the wonders of using one.

From contributor P:
The better foam brushes use a denser foam. They typically have a wood handle, not plastic (though some less expensive ones have wood handles, too). You're more likely to find them at paint or marine supply stores than at a big box store. They're better at tipping off than application, so sometimes I use a nylon bristle brush followed by a foam one.