What's the best (your favorite) water based top coat?

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by Grupple, Mar 7, 2019.

Best Water Based Finish/TopCoat?

This poll will close on Sep 8, 2019 at 12:15 AM.
  1. Grafted Coatings’ KTM-SV

    0 vote(s)
  2. General Finishes High Performance Topcoat

    0 vote(s)
  3. Target Coatings EM 6000WB

    1 vote(s)
  4. Target Coatings EM 9000WB

    0 vote(s)
  5. Crystalac Brite Tone

    0 vote(s)
  1. Grupple

    Grupple TDPRI Member

    Feb 13, 2019
    Opinions? I'm thinking of giving water based a try and have been doing a lot of reading up. But not sure how to decide. The Grafted Coatings’ KTM-SV sounds promising as it (supposedly) doesn't contain acrylic, which is responsible for the blue hue on many WB finishes.

    Also curious about General Finishes Enduro-Var, as I plan to dye one guitar - though it doesn't quite fit in with the rest it seem, so I kept it out of the list. :)
  2. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Holic

    Aug 22, 2018
    I have only used KTM-9 and the old stuff that StewMac sold (don't know what it was but they have replaced it). I used KTM-9 on several guitars - it sprays and buffs nicely, might have a very slightly bluish cast (since I didn't do any comparisons with nitro on the same wood I can't say). It cleans up with warm water and reduces with DA. I like to put a bit of DA in my gun and shoot that to remove any water which could cause rusting.

    Most of the water born cross linking lacquers do not burn into previous coats and it is possible to get witness lines when you sand. I learned that if I shot a mist coat of DA before the KTM-9 it made the surface slightly tacky and the next coat seemed to bond better - since I started doing that I've had no witness lines. I think that when you start your finishing schedule you should proceed right thru it - its not like nitro where you can add coats later (I think).

    I have done stained 'burst with KTM-9 - after staining I simply shot a couple of highly reduced coats to seal the stain, then gone ahead with the gloss. This mandolin was done that way


    A number of people that I respect use KTM-9, I have not tried the -SV. There are people who sing the praises of other finishes - again, I have no experience. I like a lot of things about water born - clean up, non toxic, not explosive - but honestly, I've gone back to nitro.

    I like finishing resin (Zpoxy) for my grain filler - this is KTM-9 over Zpoxy, no stains


    Last comment, KTM-9 seems to take tinting well, this has both stain on the wood and a little amber and brown added to the lacquer to do the edge burst. This is directly out of the gun, no buff

  3. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    Target EM6000 will burn in completely from one coat to the next, no matter how long is has cured. I've buffed out spot repairs more than two years after the initial coating.

    EM9000 is more clear but I would only use it over a decoratively painted piece to avoid a color shift, it's tougher and IMHO harder to level and buff out than the 6000 which is quite forgiving in my limited experience. I do use EM9000 as a clearcoat on painted bookshelves and find that it will not "block" or let the paper from magazine covers or books stick to it like regular house paint would.

    Incidentally Target will tint the EM6500 base for instance in any of the Benjamin Moore house paint colors (actually the paint store can do it also using the Target material as a pigmented base for your custom color) - I sprayed a built-in bookcase and you cannot tell it's a different material than the trim in the rest of the room the color matches so well. I have not experimented with using it as a base for a painted guitar, but you could mix the white EM6500 with clear EM1000 and add your dye or pigment to make a translucent color coat like, oh let see, anyone ever heard of butterscotch blonde?

    I tried Crystalac years (decades) ago and found it to have a little bit of a bluish cast to it. Oxford/Target USL, then PSL, and now EMtech 6000 have been a great evolution of waterborne coatings.

    Also a shout out for EM1000 as a sealer because it's not milky white so you can start to appreciate what color you're mixing in for translucent or shader/toner burst coats using pigment (Mixol) or dyes (Transtint). It's recommended to reduce the Transtint a bit in water before mixing it into the EM1000 so it doesn't get "snotty" (Technical term) then make sure you stir and let it rest overnight so the color evenly distributes into the emulsion.

    With any of the Target water based products, I do not leave anything in the gun overnight (cleaning with water in the sink is easy enough) but I will leave everything loaded for the day with all those 45 minute gaps between coats.
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