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Retrocraft Design

Vermont Natural Coatings

Vermont Natural Coatings
Vermont Natural Coatings PolyWhey is a water-based interior polyurethane that is made with whey, a by-product of cheese-making. We recently purchased the product at  Eco Home in Acton and it is also available at Phillips Fine Paint in West Concord.  It is roughly $30 a quart and comes in satin and gloss finish. 

The basic difficulty with water-based products vis a vis oil-based products is that water-based finishes dry very quickly so you don’t have a lot of “open time” to manipulate them. 

Assessment: The product is not easy to apply but worth the difficulty because of the lack of odor and the look of the finished product.  It has more of a natural look as opposed to a plastic quality. 

We applied it with a soft synthetic 2” to 3” wide bristle brush.  (When using a brush, always apply in the direction of the wood grain.) The finish dries so rapidly that if you go over a spot that has already started to dry, you’ll get a drag mark.  You have to work fast and it is imperative to have good light to see that you’re getting complete coverage.  It also helps to have someone checking for missed spots and drips along the edges as you are  working.  Obviously, smaller piece are easier to manage.  On larger pieces, it gets challenging.  To keep a constant wet edge on a large piece we tag team by having one of us start a new section as the first person is finishing the first pass  (generally a pass is 5 to 6” wide).  
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Once dry, it should be lightly sanded with 220 or finer sandpaper. At least three coats are recommended. The good news is that the product is forgiving. Reapplication will generally correct previous errors and missed spots. However, your final coat needs to be flawless (i.e., no drags or missed spots).
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Generally, light surfaces do not show imperfections in the seal coat as much as darker colors. On darker surfaces, drag marks are more noticeable and the finish can get a bit milky with too many coats.