Water-based technology has come a long way in the past few years and products such as water-based gloss has improved dramatically. There are so many advantages of using water-based compared to oil.
The main reason people are edging more and more towards water-based, is modern oil-based gloss tends to discolour over time, whereas water-based will stay looking pristine for a lifetime.
Water-based products are better for the environment too!! Clean up is a lot quicker and application is a lot easier. But what is the best water-based gloss on the market? I thought I’d go through my favourites and explain the pros and cons of each. I hope this helps clear things up.
Johnstone’s Aqua is the most popular water-based gloss on the British market. That said, it isn’t a true water-based. It is in fact, a hybrid, meaning it still contains a small amount of oil. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A hybrid is what you would class as a compromise between water and oil. Johnstone’s Aqua is durable, easy to apply, has great opacity and feels like an oil-based. It will discolour which is a massive disadvantage, but it takes a lot longer than a true oil-based would.
There are a few things you need to remember if you’re going to use Johnstone’s Aqua. You should always use the aqua undercoat and gloss as a system and never go straight over previously painted surfaces without it.
It also helps if you keep a bucket of water handy so you can keep wetting your brush when needed. Running a damp cloth over a surface before painting will also help. Water is your friend with any water-based gloss, but especially with Johnstone’s Aqua. This paint can drag slightly on application, and it will wreck your brushes. You can buy Johnstone’s Aqua Gloss from any Johnstone’s Decorating Centre, but unless you’re entitled to a trade discount, it will almost certainly be cheaper to buy the product online by clicking here.
Teknos Futura Aqua 90
Teknos Futura Aqua 90 could be the best water-based gloss on the market, particularly in white. Available online in almost any colour, this is another hybrid product.
As with most products of this type, you must use the specified primer to go with the topcoat. In this case, Teknos Futura primer. The primer has awesome adhesion to old oil-based coatings and great opacity. Leave plenty of time in-between coats and apply enough coats of the primer (usually 2), to make a solid base, as the Futura Aqua 90 gloss doesn’t have the same opacity.
That said, the finish is lovely! Teknos Futura Aqua 90 leaves a pure, bright, “in your face” finish which is easily a match for oil. I love this product and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anything better. full review here.
Benjamin Moore Scuff X Semi-Gloss
This is by far the most premium product on my list, and it is the most expensive. As the name suggests, Benjamin Moore semi-gloss has a sheen level which is slightly lower than most true gloss products. This is the only downside.
A lot of decorators, including myself, use this product directly over the top of old oil-based coatings. However, you are advised to use the Benjamin Moore Stix primer by the manufacturer for adhesion. You will find the semi-gloss extremely easy to work with, levels off nicely and leaves a gorgeous finish!! This really is a luxurious product and easily one of the best water-based gloss products on the market. Although it isn’t quite as good as their satinwood.
Tips for Applying Water-Based Gloss
OK, we’ve talked about the best water-based gloss products on the market. I Just wanted to talk briefly about how to apply them. You may find these paints quite stringy if you try to apply them by the same methods as you would normal gloss.
There are a couple of things you can do to make the process a lot easier. The first is to keep your brush wet. Try dipping it in water then spinning it before you start painting. Then even as you use it, occasionally dipping your paintbrush in water will stop the gloss from drying near the ferrule and causing your bristles to splay.
Another tip for applying water-based gloss is to wipe a surface with a damp sponge just before you paint it. That little bit of extra water will help with flow, but don’t over-soak it.
One last tip; when applying the gloss to large flat surfaces, try applying it with a paint roller, then laying it off with a brush. You’ll find the finish much better.
Best Tools to Apply Water-Based Gloss
The right tools will make all the difference when working with water-based gloss. Not only will suitable tools make your life easier, but you’ll also achieve a better finish. You need a brush that’s soft enough to lay off, but sturdy enough to hold its shape and cut in. You need a roller that will deposit large amounts of gloss in a fine and even layer.
My favourite paintbrush for water-based gloss is the Purdy Monarch Elite XL. You’ll find they hold up well, can cut straight lines with ease, holds plenty of paint and are soft enough to achieve a good finish. Available online by clicking here.
As for the roller, the Two Fussy Blokes are widely regarded as the best. Not only do they hold loads of paint, but the finish is so fine, it’s almost as if the gloss has been sprayed on. Available online by clicking here.
Which Water-Based Gloss Products do Other Decorators Use?
Impressed With Water-Based Gloss
To say I’m impressed with this water-based gloss would be an understatement.
This is the first time we have used water-based gloss on a hall, stairs and landing. It was for an elderly couple who like their gloss finish, but didn’t want to worry about it turning yellow over time. Plus, using water-based meant I didn’t need to worry about the smell bothering them, or them needing to cling onto a wet banister to get up the stairs. 😂
I used Teknos Futura Aqua 90!! Everything about this product feels like traditional oil-based gloss! Yes, it may be a hybrid but still will take a hell of lot longer to yellow compared to modern oil-based gloss.
This is certainly one of the best water-based gloss finishes on the market! I think it has probably got the highest sheen level. I can remember reading a full review online, but this is the first time I’ve used it myself. I couldn’t believe how easy the gloss was to use. No faffing around with a foam roller then laying off to get a nice finish. Just carry out your prep as normal, apply a heavy coat of the primer, then brush on the gloss. You can see the results in the pictures below. I was gobsmacked!!
It is available online in white, or any tinted colour. You need to make sure you use the Teknos primer to adhere to old oil-based coatings and for opacity. I applied one coat of primer and left it overnight, followed by two coats of Teknos Futura gloss the next day.
For me, the best water-based gloss is Teknos Futura 90. It may be a hybrid, but it has a fantastic sheen level, it’s durable and you can get a good finish via brush and roller. You don’t need to faff around trying to get rid of brush marks, or battle to make the finish look even.
I always use two coats of primer and 2 topcoats, which I know sounds excessive. Reason being, I like to dilute the product to help with flow.
According to a lot of other decorators, Benjamin Moore grand entrance is one of the best, but I didn’t think it was shiny enough.
Tikkurila Helmi 80 is also highly rated, but let’s be honest, there no comparison to oil-based gloss
I’m a big fan of Leyland trade water-based gloss, it’s touch dry in half an hour, no smells or odours and stays white. It’s just not as shiny as oil based
I struggle with most water-based gloss systems to be honest. I’d LOVE them to be better than they are, then I’d move over to 100% water-based for interior work. Rationally I totally understand all the benefits, but have yet to find one that gives a great finish and that I enjoy working with. Satin and eggshell, no problem.
But the glosses I find don’t have great opacity, and the “ninja runs” can be a nightmare.
The best I’ve found so far (and I’m using it today coincidentally) is Benjamin Moore Advance. But I’d still rather be on the Scuff-X!
Johnstone’s Aqua undercoat + aqua gloss is absolutely perfect for me. Flows nicely and leaves a great finish
I use Caparol pu gloss. No water-based gloss will be like oil but for me, this is the closest thing as an all-rounder. Isomat’s gloss is pretty good too.