06-24-2010 04:09 AM
I have been using Waterlox original for years. I have only used it on small projects that required a quart or less so I never had to buy gallons. The original formula is no longer available in gallons in New York (and many other states) althoug you can still buy it in quarts.
Has anyone used the new low VOC formula? Is it pretty much the same as the original? Will I get the same high quality finish I got with the original?
Opinion: The laws that limit the size of the container make no sense to me. I guess they are trying to discourage people from using high VOC materials in large quantities so the do not allow the sale of gallons. But if I wanted to really use the original Waterlox I could just buy 4 quarts!!! Makes no sense to me. It would cost me more but is actually still cheaper to buy 4 quarts of orginal than 1 gallon of the low VOC. So I am not discouraged from using this product because of cost. I am willing to use a low VOC product but want to make sure it is going to give me the same quality I am used to getting from the original.
06-24-2010 04:18 PM
Without some investigation, I would not assume that new vs. old is simply less thinner. Since we went low-VOC in my state in the last year, the paint lady at my local hardware store has told me that the manufacturers of low-VOC paint advise against mixing new and old paints. The store can sell existing inventory but must reorder low-VOC only, so the shelves currently have both formulations and you have to pick one or the other if you are going to mix cans to blend before applying.
I don't know about Waterlox, but like I said, without inside information, it would not assume. Waterlox customer service would be the place to ask.
06-24-2010 05:46 PM - edited 06-25-2010 02:58 AM
…that conventional wisdom is that low VOC varnish is achieved by simply reducing the amount of thinner; if we simply add thinner we restore the varnish to what we have become accustom to using. While that technique may have worked in the initial phases of finish reformulation to meet clean air requirements, logic tells us that the technique, if ever employed, would soon reach the point of diminishing returns. After all, sooner or later, we would have to apply varnish with a trowel if the solution to lowering VOCs was simply remove thinner from the blend.
The reality is something quite different. The relative volume of thinner remains much the same. It is the nature of the thinner that is changing. Waterlox Original employed mostly Stoddard Solvent (mineral spirits), about 60% by weight. The new low VOC Waterlox (350 VOC) employs Parachlorobenzofluoride (50% by weight) and Solvent Naphtha (20% by weight). The amount of Stoddard Solvent (mineral spirits) has fallen to less than 2% by weight. The amount of thinner in the new low VOC varnish remains essentially the same; it’s just different stuff to keep the feds happy. (The increase in total thinner weight does not mean that the thinner volume has increased; it means that the new low VOC thinner weighs more.)
To the original question, in the limited “testing” I have done I see no difference in the finish, other than in my view the new low VOC stuff stinks (it smells really bad). But, it still thins the same for brushing or wiping, it still cures just as fast and it still looks great.
One other aside, for what little it may be worth. I see no value to purchasing varnish in gallons unless you do one heck of a lot of finishing. Remember, the stuff is a reactive finish; it cures through a reaction with oxygen in the air. Once opened it begins to cure. It is much better to have four quarts of varnish, three of which remain sealed, than to use a little from a gallon and watch the remainder slowly go bad. Several of our floor finishing customers continue to buy Waterlox Original in quarts. Four quarts of the Original is priced very competitively with a gallon of the low VOC; and, if they don’t need a full gallon the remaining unopened quart(s) keep quite nicely between jobs. I haven’t brought any of the low VOC product into our inventory and probably won’t as long as the Original continues to sell and the price point favors the Original…
06-25-2010 05:18 PM
…actually, a very good question. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer. The thinner use in today’s low VOC finishes does not appear to be readily available to consumers. In point of fact, I’ve never seen the stuff in gallon cans. Further, since manufacturer’s instructions (and no doubt federal regulations) militate against thinning, I don’t expect to see this stuff on the shelves at Lowe’s or Home Depot anytime soon. Clean-up is still with mineral spirits/paint thinner. The thinning I have done has been with simple paint thinner and it seems to work just fine. So, if you tend not to give a rip what the feds think then MS/paint thinner will probably remain the thinner of choice. But, I reserve the right to change my mind as the madness of our hired help in DC and in state capitals continues to unfold…