Johnstone’s Aqua Guard Review

Updated May 31, 2024 | Posted May 24, 2021 | Product Reviews, Paints | 13 comments

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. Previously painted surfaces take a coat of Aqua undercoat, followed by the satinwood.

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 at one point. 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. Available online by clicking here.


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 Review


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.

Also, 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!!

You do need to be a little bit careful on application. If you apply the paint too generously or uneven, you will get runs. You do get used to applying it. I’ll paint something, then move on and paint something else, before going back and casting my eye over everything I’ve just painted. If there are any runs, I just knock them out with a dry paintbrush. Johnstone’s Trade Aqua Guard has a good ‘open time’, so you won’t spoil the finish by going back over your work.




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!!

Johnstone’s Aqua Guard Review - Decorator's forum UK

A fully water-based satinwood paint used to coat interior woodwork. This product can be tinted to any colour but is mostly used in Brilliant white.

Product Brand: Johnstone’s Trade

Editor's Rating:


  • Very durable.
  • Gorgeous finish with no defects.
  • Fairly easy to apply.
  • Good opacity.
  • Genuinely one of the best water-based satinwood paints available.


  • You do get paint runs on application, so you need to look back over your work and knock them out.

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. Click here to see latest online prices.


Best Tool to Apply Johnstone’s Aqua Guard


Aqua Guard is a lot easier to apply than a lot of other water-based satin products. That said, having the correct tools for the job will help you achieve a good finish, so I thought I’d give my recommendations.

The Two Fussy Blokes is a great roller for this sort of paint. Using a roller like this will allow you to apply even coats with no orange peel. Moreover, if you go for the 5mm nap, the paint you apply won’t be too thick and is less likely to sag. Available online by clicking here.

I use the Purdy Elite Monarch XL for Aqua Guard, but there are a few others that will do the job just as well. However, you’re in safe hands with a Purdy Elite Monarch XL: It holds loads of paint, is soft enough to lay-off, and will keep its shape well. Available online by clicking here.

Updated May 31, 2024 | Posted May 24, 2021 | 13 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Gregory is a Professional Painter and Decorator who works in the Northwest of England. He mainly sub-contracts for large decorating firms and works on a wide variety of projects.


  1. Lucy Roberts

    Can you use aquaguard undercoat and aquaguard satin wood on top of Zinsser BIN as that’s an oil based product? We had to use Zinsser bin as primer to cover varnished skirts and door frames. I’m a bit worried about mixing oil and water based products

    • Carl bridge

      The statement of you can apply generous coats and not experience much in the way of sagging or runs.baffled me… Is this just a copy and paste from the aqua satin/gloss product.
      Anything with a moulding and your asking for trouble with runs with AG.. Great product but needs modifying as its very labour intensive .. maybe less polyurethane or some way to increase the setup time like intact&scuff-x and they would be on to a winner

    • Jamie Ironside

      Hi there yes you can , I’ve used zinsser on stained wood then built it up with aqua undercoat and finished it with the gaurd

  2. David

    I have the same question. Did you ever find the answer?

    • Mike Cupit

      You’re fine to use the Aqua system over the top of BIN

  3. Baz

    1) Can the Aquaguard Undercoat be used on dark stained wood areas & trims that have been sanded down & then followed by the Aquaguard Satin Top Coat?

    2) If the Aquaguard Undercoat will not be able to cover & stop bleeding of any sanded dark stained wood areas, then if one uses Zinsser BIN or 123, can one go straight to the Aquaguard Satin Top Coat since Zinsser say one can proceed direct to top coats after applying BIN/123?

    • Mike Cupit

      You need a coat of BIN, Cover Stain or similar. Then use the aqua undercoat for opacity and a little more adhesion.

  4. Baz

    Hi Mike,

    Can one use the Aqua Guard Satin Top Coat over another brand of water based Undercoat – say the Dulux Trade Quick Dry Wood Primer & Undercoat or MUST it only be the Johnstones Aqua Undercoat & if so, why?

    I ask as I have a few tins available & would like to use them & save costs if at all possible but wish to make sure the Aquaguard Top Satin Coat will not have issues later like flaking, peeling off etc!

    Many Thanks!

    • Mike Cupit

      Hi Baz, you should be fine. I was told by Johnstone’s you must use their Aqua undercoat, so that’s all I have ever used. However, I know some decorators use Haft Primer, and similar products

      • Amanda

        Hi all

        After a lot of research and recommendations I chose Aquaguard to paint my kitchen cabinets.
        I followed the directions to the letter. Even leaving a full week between coats for it to fully cure.
        However after 1 week of the final coat being put on, the paint has bubbled on the bottom of one of the doors above the toaster.
        I purchased this paint as it is sold as tough and durable.
        After a lot of time and effort I find this not to be the case
        Anybody got recommendations how to stop this happening again once I sand it back and repaint (besides the obvious to move the toaster) worried now when I cook on the Hob, the top units either side may do the same thing?

    • Vince Robinson

      We have just done a job where we used 3 different wb primers up and the agua gard went over them all, no problem. 👍

  5. Vince Robinson

    I have an apology to make to Jonnos about Aquagard. 😳

    Until I discovered Tikkurila, I was a big Jonnos fan and really liked their Aqua range, and was happy to try the Aquagard satin.

    Sadly, I was very surprised and disappointed at how badly it performed. It was nice to apply, great opacity and a rock hard finish BUT on panelled doors it ran like mad. As much as we kept checking it, it kept running. I hated it. 😔

    Last week I thought I’d give it another go (same tin) on some flush doors and frames etc, and it was beautiful. Couldn’t believe how different the same tin of paint behaved.

    I think the initial problem was the temperature. We were doing an empty property in autumn with no heating on, and it posed us problems with drying and runs – I’d be wary of using it in similar conditions.

    In the right conditions though, it’s magnificent stuff, and will definitely be using it again.

  6. Neil

    hi, I’ve used the aqua guard to great success on skirting and doors. Brilliant paint. However I struggle on a window sill. Undercoat is fine, but the aqua guard I find really tricky.
    I find it starts to dry very quickly and then starts to drag if I need to go over it.
    I’ve tried to avoid hot days and direct sunlight without success. Any tips please?
    many thanks


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