Water based glazes…eh?

Painted and stained finishes, enhanced with glaze are a time tested finishing method for furniture builders.  Anyone doing period work or serious antique restoration is familiar with the technique.  I’ve been building a dining table for my daughter and her family.  She said that she would like a “shabby chic” finish on the table.  In the spirit of compromise, I suggested that I’d paint and glaze the base, then finish the top in stain and varnish.

Now paint to me means one of two things, either you use oil based enamel or milk paint (lime and casein).  But I’m a liberal, tree hugging kind of a guy, so I decided to try a finish using General Finishes Milk Paint and Glaze Effects.  I must say that I was very impressed with the GF Milk Paint.  It’s not “real milk paint”, but it works pretty well and a couple of coats will give you a decent base.  Then, I, reluctantly, started to work with the glaze.  I should have known better.  Anything that is soluble in water dries quickly.  In summertime it dries very quickly.  Well, when you’re glazing, quick drying is the last thing you want.

Glazing is an art.  And it takes time to be artistic.  You need time to accomplish effects like dry-brushing or graining.  You have to be able to “push the glaze around”.  It must remain “plastic” for an extended period.



The water based glaze dried so quickly that I was not able to control the level of effect.  I got “shabby”, but it certainly was not the effect that I could have achieved had I used a oil based glaze, like Behlens (or even an old can of stain that had settled out and the oil poured off).

If “re-purposing” is your thing, I’d say that the water based glaze would probably be satisfactory.  But the serious furniture maker would be better served by staying with “tried and true” methods, like oil based glaze.  Sometimes it’s tough to be “green”.


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