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Thread: Anyone using GEL POLYURETHANE finishes?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
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    Cincinnati, Ohio - north
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    Anyone using GEL POLYURETHANE finishes?

    On a recent visit to my local Rockeler store, I was looking for my old favorite GF Arm-R-Seal and noticed a product new to me called Old Masters Gel Polyurethane. (Since then I have found other gel polys.) From the label I see some advantages to using it as opposed to traditional oil based poly most obviously the fact that it is a wipe-on and buff-off product with no chance for drips and runs.

    I am curious if anyone has used gel polyurethanes and what your experiences were:
    1) What consistency are they ? Semi-liquid like most gel stains? or more like paste waxes?
    2) After being opened do they dry up or skin over in the can like regular varnishes ? or do they maintain their consistency like gel stains and paste waxes and not dry out?
    3) Did you like the end results? Any complaints or advice from your experiences?

    While I like Arm-R-Seal (and I most often use it in wipe-on fashion), I can see some advantages to the gel polys if they work as labeled. But if it is just another finish that dries up in the can, I can see where most of a can could go to waste before being used up.

    Interested in any comments you may have.

    Thanks in advance.
    - Al Heitz

  2. #2
    I know of the finish but have never used it. It's just easier for a person to apply it by hand than conventional varnishes. It's about the consistency of mayonnaise but what separates from regular poly is when applying it is it has a lot more open time to work it. Regular poly begins to set up as soon as it comes out of a can but the gel poly you can apply it and go over and over it until you get a smooth finish over the entire surface without any drag or brush marks. Now since it's slow to set up you would have to have a very clean work space to apply it. Then you could only apply one coat every 24 hours in good conditions. If it was cool or damp it might take days to dry enough for another coat. What worries me is they have reformulated the finish to make it easier to apply, what's it going to do with the quality of the finish itself once applied and dried. I have a hunch it won't be as hard of a finish and won't last as long.

    Any finish when exposed to air will skim over or harden in the can. There are those that put marbles in the can to raise fluid levels so there is less air in the can. Then I've heard of people putting gasses such as argon in the can but I could never see how you could put it in and shut the lid fast enough, As far as storage a finish will last longer if kept cold and it also helps if the can was shaken every couple of weeks.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    I've used GF's Gel Urethane. Contrary to what Ed surmised, it has a very short working time, probably less than Arm-R-Seal, after which you get streaks if you try to continue wiping it. IIRC GF's version only comes in satin, too. It goes on easily enough if you work quickly, and it gives a pretty nice looking finish. However, it is not very chemically resistant, as Ed suggested. It is easily damaged by anything with ammonia in it and even plain water will leave a nasty ring if it's left on very long. I stopped using it when a piece I made got damaged from water, and use Arm-R-Seal when I want to use a wipe on finish. It's much more bullet proof in comparison and comes in all sheens, too.

    John

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Dyas View Post
    Then I've heard of people putting gasses such as argon in the can but I could never see how you could put it in and shut the lid fast enough,
    I think the way it works is that the gas is heavier than air so it doesn't escape from the can. Haven't used it myself but that's what I've heard.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Garson View Post
    I think the way it works is that the gas is heavier than air so it doesn't escape from the can. Haven't used it myself but that's what I've heard.
    Bloxygen is the brand I use and it works great. It's argon, or something similar. It displaces the air from the can, which means there is no oxygen for the finish to react with so it doesn't skin over. A can of Bloxygen feels empty. Gas weighs almost nothing. But it's in there and lasts a long time if you follow the directions.

    John

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
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    Cincinnati, Ohio - north
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    Many thanks to all, but especially to John. I've probably learned more from him than anyone else short of Flexner.

    Enough said from everyone to prevent me from throwing money at a new approach. Sticking with Arm-R-Seal.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Cleveland, Ohio
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    I finished a kitchen with Arm-R-Seal gel. Biggest reason (vs brushed poly): no drips on vertical surfaces. Cabinets still look new after 10 years.

    Drying out becomes a problem with a can opened more than a month, so I choose can size for the project ahead.

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