Sanding and Waterlox.

Sanding for adhesion purposes is not required between coats of Waterlox Original Tung oil finishes. This makes Waterlox unique and different from most surface finishes which need abrasion for inter-coat adhesion.

Most surface finishes such as urethanes require the sanding process to create what’s called a “profile”. A profile is similar to a mountain range microscopically. Failure to sand/abrade between coats of a surface finish can result in delamination of the new coat from the old coat.  With Waterlox Original Tung oil finishes, new coats will actually bond with the previous Waterlox coat and becomes part of it rather than a layer on top of it.

Even on a finely sanded wood surface, there are peaks and valleys as well as spots of hard and soft grain. When you apply the first coat of Waterlox, it’s like snowfall on the mountains. The snow caps the peaks and begins to fill the valleys. If you sand, you will unseal the caps and there will be less to flow to the valleys when you apply the next coat of finish. This will result in the cap being re-sealed again, and will therefore result in less available finish to flow into the valley. If you do not sand, then the next coat will flow away from the sealed caps and do more to fill the valleys. After the third or fourth coat, this self-leveling process is complete.1

1This is the most important reason to obtain the recommended spread rate of 500 square feet per gallon per coat.


  • Heavy debris or applicator fuzz can be removed from the film with 0000 steel wool, 320 grit sandpaper, or a Scotch-Brite® pad (as shown in the Waterlox application video on our website at
  • Some customers perform a light buffing between the second-to-last and last coat. This is for aesthetic reasons only. Depending on the size of the project you may choose to use a new or used maroon pad or a 3M® white pad with a low-rpm buffing machine. For smaller rooms, try a drywall pole sander or an orbital sander with 320 or finer grit paper.
  • Keep in mind if you can visually see any sand or swirl marks in the finish before the final coat, these need to be sanded or removed with a finer grit paper or pad before proceeding with the final coat as they WILL be visible. To check for sand or swirl marks, wipe a thin coat of mineral spirits over an area. While still wet it will give you an accurate visualization of what the final coat will look like.
  • Waterlox Original Tung oil finishes should never be abraded with a coarser grit than 150.
  • NEVER sand a surface that has been stained as this process will change the color.

Before using a new applicator, be sure that any loose hairs or fibers are removed or cleaned from the applicator. This can be achieved by any of the following methods:

  • Wrap the applicator with masking or painter's tape and then remove the tape completely, or
  • Put new and unused applicator pads in the dryer for a spin, or
  • Use a lint roller on the applicator pad until the lint-roller paper does not pick up any further hair or remains sticky.

ABRASION TECHNIQUES FOR AESTHETIC REAONS FOR WOOD PROJECTS (e.g.: tables, furniture, etc.): Follow the instructions "For Floors" as outlined above; however, because these type of projects are smaller in size you may want to perform a light sanding with 220 or higher grit sandpaper or 0000 steel wool. For fine woodworking, many artisans have used 600 - 800 grit sandpaper before the final coat.

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