Applying Crystalac Water Based Finishes

For the best results with CrystaLac® Finishing Products it is important to understand the many considerations of preparation and application using waterborne finishes, and be totally familiar with the character of CrystaLac® products.

A few things of note -

  1. DO NOT use tack cloths or stearated sandpaper with CrystaLac® products.
  2. Make sure you have a clean environment for application
  3. Stir, DO NOT Shake.
  4. Be patient with drying times.
  5. Enjoy a beautiful finish when you are completed!
  6. Buy CrystaLac® Here

Environment and Finishing Area Considerations

Provide a clean, ventilated, stable temperature environment in which to apply CrystaLac® finish coatings. CrystaLac® is self-leveling and dries rapidly. Hard cure and crystal clarity will occur best at an average temperature of 70° F with a gentle circulation of moving air.  This will aid in rapid surface evaporation of water and minimize or eliminate grain rising.  Using below 60° F or above 90°F can affect the performance of the finish coat.

After the coating is dry to touch, it will take airtime to cure and harden. The temperature should remain constant over this time period. DO NOT store CrystaLac® finishing products below 60ºF. Avoid freezing.


Careful sanding and preparation of your project will help ensure a good quality finish. We recommend you sand using 220 -600, moving through intermediate grits. The finer grades of sandpaper will help keep wood grain tight and minimize or eliminate grain rising. CAUTION: USE OF COATED OR STEARATED SANDPAPERS can leave residue on the surface causing the coating not to bond property to the surface. This would be evident if the coating suddenly separated into a series of small clear craters like circles (sometimes called fisheye). Lack of adhesion can also occur if any oils or silicones are left on the surface to be coated. Avoid using steel wool or tack rags as these sometimes contain lubricants and silicones. Avoid any material that might contaminate the surface. Applying CrystaLac® to cold wood may cause the coating to perform erratically. Be sure that the wood and the coating are applied are at normal room temperature.


Stir product thoroughly to ensure that any settled particles mix through the coating. DO NOT SHAKE. You may want to filter the coating before use. Use a paper cone filter or a nylon filter to strain. In most instances, CrystaLac® finishes can be sprayed straight from the can.


CrystaLac® Coatings can be successfully applied over oil-based stains, previously coated surfaces with lacquer, urethanes, shellacs, varnishes etc. It is critical that the surface to which CrystaLac® is applied be free of oil, wax, dust, and polish. Newly applied oil-based stains and solvent finishes must be thoroughly dry and solvents totally evaporated for proper bonding and adhesion to occur. A premature application will result in bubbling, foaming, and non-adhesion of CrystaLac® to the surface. When applying CrystaLac® Coatings over a surface that has had paint remover applied, be sure that the surface has been thoroughly cleaned, and no waxy residue remains on the surface or in the wood grain. It is advisable to test for proper adhesion over all oil-based stains, non-waterborne coatings or stripped surfaces before proceeding with the entire project.


When spraying we recommend an HVLP spray gun. Avoid the extreme of either too fine a mist or flooding of material. Apply a light wet film of approximately 2 mils. The most common error when spraying waterborne coatings is applying a thick wet coat. A little practice and experience will help you achieve the right technique and best results. Always spay horizontal surfaces holding your spray gun at a slight angle away from you. Begin close and work away from the target to avoid over-spraying the work you just finished. Remember this material bonds mechanically. It does not re-melt and burn-in to the previous coat. If necessary sand between coats with 320 grit or finer for sealer/topcoats. Clean sanded surfaces by blowing off any dust and using a damp cloth.


An HLVP system and a 1mm tip and needle (.039) will usually provide the best results. If using conventional compressed air systems, a fine lacquer tip is suggested at pressures of 40-45psi although with the gun we used we found that 25-30 psi worked well. Spray guns will usually atomize CrystaLac® with 4.5-5.0 psi air cap pressure. Adjust if necessary. Test spray samples before committing to the job.


CrystaLac products can react with ferrous metals, aluminum and certain alloys that can cause corrosion and contamination of spray gun parts. It is important that all spray gun parts coming in contact with any of these fluids be of a high-grade stainless steel or Teflon coated, to afford a measure of protection.

Possible reactions can be aluminum pitting, corrosion, rusting, discoloration, and contamination of the coating to be applied.

Cup type spray guns should not only have a stainless-steel tip, needle, and fluid passage, but also the cup assembly parts. Aluminum cups should be Teflon coated for optimum protection. Secondary parts (needle and housing springs, air distributor plates etc.) should also be stainless steel.

Recommended precautions for older pressure pots are using an appropriate pot liner, changing the fluid pickup tube to stainless steel or plastic, and coating the underside of the pressure pot lid with an epoxy paint or a suitable protective coating.

A new pressure pot designed for these modern coatings is advised.

Fluid hoses should be high quality and lined. Hose couplers should be of appropriate non-corrosive metals. Cup type spray guns be cleaned after completion of a project. The material should not be left in the spray gun overnight. The same is recommended for pressure pot use. Remove the material from the pot and flush fluid lines at the end of the workday.


Depending on what you are trying to achieve in the finished appearance, the number of coats will vary. Usually, 3 or 4 coats (sanding with 320 – 400) will provide excellent depth of finish. For a heavier appearing finish, (more than four coats), allow additional time between each application (at least a few hours or more). This will permit internal additives to evaporate and not become trapped by the multiple coats. This will ensure proper curing, hardening and print resistance.


Crystalac® will usually be dry to touch in 10 to 15 minutes if applied properly. Extremely wet applications will take slightly longer. Re-coating too soon can sometimes cause an orange peel effect and may extend the final cure time of the product.

BE PATIENT!  Wait for will be worth the wait.

Allow 2-3 hours wait time for recoating depending on conditions.  Also be careful to apply thin, even coats. Cold or wet days may extend dry time.


The best and easiest part of using CrystaLac® is the clean up with warm water!


How to