What’s the best way to apply water-based finish when you don’t have spray equipment?

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Water-base finishing
When finishing with water-base coatings, cover a lot of surface quickly with a clean paint pad. Always work with a light source reflecting off the surface at a low angle so you donu2019t miss any spots.

Q:

What's the best way to apply water-based finish when you don't have spray equipment?
—Al Joslin, Evanston, Illinois

A:

A 100% synthetic brush works great, Al, and paint pads really speed up the process on large, flat surfaces. Natural-bristle brushes tend to splay as they absorb the water that's present in the finish, and rollers leave bubbles. Once you have the right tool or tools, follow these tips for great results:

* Take temperature and humidity into account. Weather affects water-based more than solvent-based finishes. Make sure your finishing area is 65° F or higher so the finish flows out properly. If high humidity prolongs the drying time, set a fan to blow air over the project. (Be sure you do this in a dust-free environment.)

* Stir the container thoroughly to bring solids off the bottom and back into solution. Then, pour the amount you need into a jar or pan, straining it through a paper or plastic filter or pantyhose to remove any remaining lumps.

* Apply a thin coat, let it dry (in normal conditions, waterbase dries in 10 minutes or so), and sand away the raised grain with 320-grit sandpaper. You may need to sand again if the second coat also raises the grain. Keep subsequent coats thin to avoid bubbles.