Number of Coats for Your Project

When finishing a project and selecting a finish, one important factor is the number of coats required to complete the project. The important thing to remember is that the number of coats is only half of the actual equation when it comes to finishing a project. The other half of that equation is spread rate. That is why in our guides, you’ll almost always see both numbers reported together. Below are some general guidelines and considerations. See the find your finishing system tool to help determine which products you’ll need for each coat.

What Is a “Coat”?

  1. A “coat” is dependent on spread rate (measured in volume per area) or what volume (quart, gallon, pint, etc.) of product you use to cover what area (square feet, square meters, etc.) of project.

  2. Our different products have different spread rates. The following is the recommended spread rate for ONE COAT.
    1. UNIVERSAL Tung Oil Sealer (UTOS) and TRUETONE (Colors and Buff-In Finish)**
      • One quart = 600-800 square feet
      • One pint = 300-400 square feet
      • One 2 oz. sample = 35 square feet
    2. ORIGINAL URETHANE, H2OLOX and MARINE Finishes
      • One gallon = 500 square feet
      • One quart = 125 square feet
      • One 2 oz. Sample = 6 square feet
    3. PURE Tung Oil**
      • Similar to TRUETONE, but will vary depending on how much the product is cut with solvent. See the PURE Tung Oil guide for more information.
  3. These spread rates are theoretical and you should consider getting a little extra for your project. This is especially important with the samples as much of the product can be lost in your application tools. For instance, you can never really squeeze all of the water out of a sponge. Equally, some product will stay in the brush, pad or rag used for application which will make a difference at lower quantities.

    **Wood is a natural substance and its absorption can vary wildly between species and even how it is milled and assembled (end grain vs. face grain). These products aim to saturate the wood surface, so softer woods absorb more finish than other more dense woods. You’ll also use less product with each application and wipe off more excess as the wood surface gets closer to saturation.

Recommended Application Methods

  1. UNIVERSAL Tung Oil Sealer and TRUETONE Products
    1. Large Projects – Floor buffer with a thick white pad for application and a clean pad, towels or rags for removal of excess.
    2. Small Projects – Rag, pad sponge that can be used to buff/rub the product in. Clean rags, towels or pads for removal of excess.
  2. H2OLOX Finishes
    1. Large Projects – T-bar or other non-rolling light pad for waterbased finishes.
    2. Small Projects – Foam brush
  3. ORIGINAL, MARINE and URETHANE Finishes
    1. Large Projects – Lambswool pad or similar oil-based, non-rolling applicator.
    2. Small Projects – Natural bristle brush for oil-based paints.
  4. PURE Tung Oil
    1. Depends on how the tung oil is used. See the PURE Tung Oil Guide for specific instructions using that product.

Other Application Methods

Other application methods can and will work, but they will most likely affect your spread rate and therefore change the required number of coats. See the Different Application Methods and Tools paper for a more in depth discussion of different application tools. A few key points are discussed below.

  1. Different users and different projects will require different application methods and tools. The equipment and space available, the experience of the user and the physical geometry of the project can determine where one method may work better than another.
  2. Think carefully about the potential impacts that a particular application method may have on total film build and drying/curing times. Really thin wiped on coats will flow, level and dry differently than wetter brushed or sprayed on coats. You will also need more of them to reach the same total film build.
  3. Rollers should be avoided as they will cause lots of bubbles and may cause patterns to dry in the finish.
    1. PURE tung oil (when cut), TRUETONE and the UTOS can be initially rolled onto the surface, but they need to be buffed in fully.

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