Applying lacquer to staircase/problem with brush streaks/marks

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Old 10-22-12, 04:45 AM
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Applying lacquer to staircase/problem with brush streaks/marks

Is there a better way to apply lacquer to a staircase (refinishing...not new, and stair treads are inside/assembled and not being removed) than with a sponge brush? In my experimenting, I am finding that I'm getting streaks/marks with the water based lacquer I am using. It's like it dries so quickly that if there are imperfections/streaks there isn't much that can be done without making an even bigger mess trying to make it look clear and smooth. I have done the light sanding between coats but each time it just ends up doing the same sort of thing/light streaks here and there, etc.

I can't spray finish them because my staircase is assembled. This is a refinishing project I have tried to take on myself, so the steps won't be removed and I don't imagine spraying them in the house is an intelligent idea.

Would there be any sense in applying mineral spirits to the water based lacquer to thin it a bit? I'm wondering if that may help with the streaking/drying too quickly and allow for it to spread a bit better?

I don't mind trying again, as this is much easier than having to sand right down to the bare wood and restain. Thankfully, that part is all done, just the clear coat now and I'm retiring from this project
 
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Old 10-22-12, 06:06 AM
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I rarely use lacquers so I'm not overly familiar with them

Do not use mineral spirits to thin the lacquer!! I've never used a waterbased lacquer but would assume it would thin with water - read the label to see what it says about thinning. I've never like foam brushes and don't use them. A quality nylon polyester blend brush would be better.

That said, why are you using lacquer? Poly is easier to apply and will wear better. It's the nature of lacquer to dry quickly.
 
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Old 10-22-12, 06:44 AM
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I got it from the same specialty shop that creates stains, finishes, etc. and was told that this stuff is professional grade (used on gym floors, for example) and that it is better. I have no idea if that is true or not.

So this leads to my next question...if I should be using a poly, what is the best satin finish poly I should be using? I'm assuming Minwax or something I can pick up at Home Depot is likely not good enough. Let me know.

And what type of brush would you recommend from HomeDepot.ca or Kent.ca...would this be similar to your recommend?

Workforce | 1 Inch/25Mm Poly/Bristle General | Home Depot Canada

Thanks
 
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Old 10-22-12, 06:48 AM
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Also, to remove the lacquer and apply a poly instead, is it simply sanding down to the stain and probably restaining (doubt it's possible to remove all the lacquer without taking some of the stain off in the process) or is there an easier process to eliminate the potential of staining yet again?
 
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Old 10-22-12, 06:56 AM
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I know lacquer was the predominate floor finish 40 yrs ago but haven't been on any jobs in the last 25 yrs where it was used on hardwood floors. Lacquer works well in shops where the environment is controlled and quick turn around is desired.

I've used a lot of the oil base Minwax and while it's not quite as good as the urethanes some of the floor finishers use - it's readily available and does a decent job. Generally you have to go to a hardwood flooring distributor to get those types of floor finishes. I seldom use waterbased polys as they don't dry to as hard a finish as the oil base. I don't remember the brand name but I have used one water based floor poly that was fairly stout - it required a catalyst.

Generally a scuff sand is all that is needed before poly is applied. It's always best to test a small section to make sure the new coating is compatible with the existing lacquer.
 
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Old 10-22-12, 06:58 AM
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I have no problem using an oil based instead of water based, this is just what they gave me is all. I'm concerned now that to strip the lacquer and replace with a poly, wondering if I'm gonna have to restain as well...basically start all over?
 
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Old 10-22-12, 07:03 AM
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I'm sorry, I missed your comment about scuff sanding. So, you're saying (just so I am clear) that I should be able to scuff sand using a light sand paper (like I was doing between coats with the lacquer) and cover with the poly? Lucky for me, I have 12 stairs, 3 that are currently not finished...because I've been trying to figure out the right way to do these right. This has been an ongoing project forever, and luckily I have a staircase that leads to my garage that I can use while I work on it. I just want to get it all done though (LOL).
 
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Old 10-22-12, 07:05 AM
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I'm not familiar with the brush you gave a link for..... and I assume you meant to use a bigger brush.
Here is an example of a good brush for waterbased poly or latex paint - Purdy Pro-Extra Sprig
For oil base coatings - Purdy Chinex Swan

Purdy brushes are sold at most paint stores and some home centers. The main thing is to use a quality brush. Even with all my yrs of painting experience, I would have a hard time doing a good job with an inferior brush.
 
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Old 10-22-12, 07:09 AM
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You type faster than me, I'm having a time keeping up

Waterbased polys go on milky and don't change the color of the wood any other than give it a sheen.
Oil base polys tend to make the colors naturally in the wood [or stain] deepen some. I don't remember how the wood/stain reacts to lacquer You might want to go ahead and give the 3 unfinished steps a coat of lacquer to insure all the steps look the same.
 
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Old 10-22-12, 07:16 AM
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Thanks a lot for all your help I appreciate it. I wasn't sure if it made a diff if I put an oil poly over a water lacquer, versus a water poly over a water lacquer.

I think I want to try an oil based poly, as that sounds better based on the info you have provided me. I'm gonna see if I can find a good satin poly...if you have any strong recommends please feel free to share. I'm always hesitant/inexperienced as to what to try!
 
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Old 10-22-12, 07:22 AM
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I don't often do floors but before I retired I had one builder I painted for that had me do all of his staircases. I usually used Minwax oil base poly in whatever sheen the homeowner picked. Occasionally the floor finish would be something out of the ordinary and at those times the floor finish would be supplied to me.

I'm 95% certain that oil poly will adhere fine over the lacquer but it's always best to test first and be 100% certain.
 
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Old 10-22-12, 07:32 AM
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I've been experimenting for a long time, so no reason not to try a little longer.

It's the stair treads I'm doing, not a floor per say, although I guess it would be the same.

So, do you think using an oil Minwax poly is my best bet, or should I go to a specialty shop and get something there?
 
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Old 10-22-12, 08:05 AM
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Minwax oil based poly will be fine. Scuff sand the lacquer first and then between all coats of polyurethane to promote good adhesion.
 
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Old 10-22-12, 10:26 AM
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If the stairs were to see more use [think commercial] I'd go thru the trouble of finding a better coating but IMO Minwax oil base poly will give satisfactory performance in a residential setting.
 
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Old 10-22-12, 05:59 PM
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I hope I am not too late, but I don't think you can put an oil based poly over waterbased anything. From what I understand, once you put waterbased down, you won't be able to put a solvent base finish over it. I am not 100% certain on this, but you should absolutely test a small area before you do the whole thing.

Just because they call it "lacquer" doesn't mean it is. Waterbased finishes are named after the oil based finishes that they are competing with.

What is the exact name of the product you used and who manufactures it?
 
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Old 10-23-12, 05:07 AM
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Andrew, it should be ok to apply oil base poly over a waterbased coating. Oil base enamel gets applied over latex paint everyday. Years ago I worked for a cheap outfit that used the flat latex house paint we painted the exterior with to paint the exterior doors and then applied oil base poly to give it a sheen. The only time you'd run into problems with an oil coating over a waterbased coating is if there was a heavy coat [s] of waterbased.

As we both have already stated, it's best to apply a test coat on a small area when you don't know for sure that the 2 coatings are compatible.
 
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