Johnstone's Aqua Guard review - a fully water-based and very durable satin product for interior woodwork

Johnstone’s Aqua Guard Review

By Mike Gregory


Johnstone’s Aqua Guard is a fully water-based satinwood, meaning it will never discolour over time. You must use the correct system, so bare timber should be primed using an acrylic primer. Then you should use the Johnstone’s Aqua undercoat, followed by at least one coat of Aqua Guard.

This paint is an evolution of the old Johnstone’s Aqua Satinwood which is still available to buy. At one point, the Aqua satinwood was the brand leader in “water-based satin” amongst professional decorators. However, it is a hybrid and comes with a few issues. The Aqua Guard is much better.

It can be tinted into just about any colour from Johnstone’s vast range. That includes colour matching to tints from other brands!! You can also buy this product in white, brilliant white and black.

Re-coat time on the undercoat is approximately 4 – 6 hours. The Aqua Gard is roughly the same. It’s important not to rush additional coats or your cure time will be extended.


Johnstone’s Aqua Undercoat


I thought I’d start by explaining a little bit about the undercoat as it’s quite an interesting product in itself. The Aqua undercoat is a hybrid paint, meaning a small amount of oil is added to water-based technology. The downside of being a hybrid is that it can ruin your brushes if you’re using the paint for a prolonged period. To combat this, you should keep your brushes wet by swilling them out every hour or so. Running a damp cloth over a surface before you paint it will also help with flow.

Other than that minor drawback, the Aqua undercoat is a fantastic product. Opacity is bang on, the feel of the paint is like oil-based and the adhesion to glossy surfaces is perfect. You can’t really ask for anymore.

It’s worth mentioning that as both the undercoat and Aqua Guard are primarily water-based, they will not block stains like an oil-based product would. If you are applying these paints over something like wood stain or varnish, it’s often a good idea to apply a coat of Cover Stain first.


Johnstone’s Aqua Guard


OK, we’ve talked about the prep and the undercoat, let’s have a look at the main product. The Aqua Guard is easy to use, has great opacity and will not ruin your brushes. One of the issues you experience when using most water-based satinwood products is visible brush and roller marks. Not with Aqua Guard!! Anyone can achieve a great finish with this paint!! Brush marks just seem to melt away.

Another quality of the Aqua Guard is you can apply generous coats and not experience much in the way of sagging or runs. Again, this is normally an issue when using water-based.

Last, but certainly not least, the Aqua Guard is a lot more durable than most water-based products. You need to give it a good week to cure, but after that it’ll be as hard and scuff resistant as an oil-based!!




Johnstone’s Aqua Guard is one of the best water-based satinwoods out there. No “off the shelf” product comes close. The overall finish and the long-lasting durability are the only things you need to consider. Everything else is a bonus!!


Where to Buy


Johnstone’s Aqua Guard is fairly widespread. You can buy this product at any Johnstone’s Decorating Centre, or several independent merchants. It is primarily a trade product and sold at trade paint outlets. If you do not have a trade account, you may be better off buying this product online!!

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Johnstone’s Aqua Guard Review