When designing the Eco-Steps product line the two main goals were to make a superior product to premium solvent based finishes and to make the transition to water simple. These goals were met!

E.S.C. waterborne finishes have many distinct advantages over their solvent counterparts. They dry harder yet stay flexible, they are non-yellowing, much more chemically resistant, have higher solids content, are more durable, more forgiving, and in the case of E.S.C. much healthier to use and live with.


Anytime you switch products there is a bit of a learning curve. We have really tried to minimize that. The fact of the matter is, for years now solvent users have been going through that learning curve on a regular basis. The solvent lacquers have been changing constantly to try and keep up with the VOC laws. Each change has resulted in dramatically different products, causing dramatically different techniques for proper application. This will continue. E.S.C. products are so low and so far below the toughest VOC regulations that we will not have to change. Once you switch it will be your last learning curve.


For the most part you can use the same application methods you are currently using. E.S.C. can be applied with HVLP, airless, AA, conventional or just about any other method. All the equipment must be thoroughly cleaned with current lacquers recommended solvent. Even if you are using a waterbase now you should still do a complete cleaning. Many “waterbased” products are far from a waterborne and contain many solvents. Follow that with a flush using acetone and a final flush with clean water. It is good practice to replace the material lines and keep one line for clears and one for pigmented coatings. Once clean you are good to go. For traditional guns we prefer a 1.7 or 1.8 tip setup, for turbines a #3, and airless a 410 or 512 double orifice.


E.S.C. products have been designed for production application. Dry time is very similar to that of solvent lacquers. Most products have been designed to sand to a powder in 15 minutes at 74 degrees. The first coat takes a bit longer as it tends to soak into the wood so add 3 to 5 minutes. One of the biggest concerns with waterbase products is the grain raise issue. On certain species the water stains can raise the grain a bit. E.S.C. stains and finishes have been designed to minimize it; nevertheless it can’t be eliminated completely. However, because we are such a high solids product the grain raise is not a factor. By the time you have applied your second coat of finish the grain raise has been buried. You can “pre-wet” the grain and sand but I rarely find this method that effective nor worth the extra time. I still recommend a final sand of the raw wood to a 220 or 240.


Isn’t it strange that the solvent manufacturers try to market theirs as “water-white” or “water-clear” yet the “problem” with waterborne is that it does not give that solvent look. One of the knocks against waterborne lacquer has always been that it is too clear and does not bring out the beauty of the wood grain or the warmth of the finished product compared to solvent. While this is true of most waterborne finishes out there it is not the case with E.S.C. . Most all of our product will give a warmer look to natural wood and some grain definition. If more is desired we offer the Amber-Master. This unique product will give the rich, warm look to the wood and make the grain “pop” while still maintaining its most desirable non-yellowing feature. We do not “simulate” the look of the solvents by adding color to the finish as many do since this creates a whole different set of problems for the finisher. Instead we achieve this look through basic engineering of the product. Yes it is more difficult from a manufacturing standpoint but after you see the final appearance it easily justifies itself.


While every job is different and personal tendencies play a huge part in finishing, here is the basic procedure for finishing with E.S.C.

New Work (Stain and clear)

  1. Sand the wood to a final of 220 grit
  2. If the wood tends to blotch then apply E.S.C. Conditioner and allow 10 minutes or more for it to dry completely.
  3. Stain the wood to the desired color with E.S.C. Stain or E.S.C. Gel-Stain and let dry.
  4. Apply your first coat of finish and allow to dry.
  5. Apply your second coat of finish and allow to dry.
  6. Lightly sand using 400 or even woven pads. You do not have to sand like you did with solvent products; all you are doing is leveling and smoothing the product.
  7. Apply your final coat and allow to dry.

New Work (Pigmented)

  1. Sand the wood to a final of 220 grit
  2. Apply first coat of E.S.C. Prime-Master and allow to dry
  3. Sand to smooth the surface
  4. Apply second coat of Prime-Master if needed.
  5. Sand again until surface is sealed and smooth.
  6. Apply first coat of E.S.C. Color-Master and allow to dry
  7. Lightly sand with 400 or a woven pad to level.
  8. Apply second Coat of Color-Master and allow to dry
  9. If desired more coats can be applied by following steps 6 and 7

Old Work

  1. Completely clean and sand all surfaces using appropriate cleaners
  2. Rinse all cleaners off with plenty of clear water
  3. Wipe surface down with denatured alcohol
  4. Do a couple test areas to ensure proper results (going over old, unknown finishes is always a risk, but with E.S.C.’s chemistry success is much greater, but tests are safer)
  5. Apply clear or shaded clear coat and allow to dry
  6. Lightly sand with 600 or woven pad
  7. Repeat steps 4 and 5 to achieve desired results

Theseare basic guidelines and you can and will develop your own techniques.

We are here to help, so if you have any questions please feel free to contact your distributor or call us direct at 619-297-4421


This quick computation will show the actual cost per square foot of any given coating based on a desired dry film thickness. This is used to compare two different products. Many times people claim the waterborne is more expensive per gallon, which it can be, but in reality it is significantly less expensive per square foot.

In order to do this easily we must assume that there is 100% transfer efficiency, or in other words zero waste when spraying either product. Theoretical coverage of any product at 1 mil thick is 1604 sq ft per gallon. We try to achieve 5 mil DFT as an example.







                           (%SBV)                                     (1604)



Example: We want to compare ESC Spray-Master at 35% solids and $40 per gallon to Brand “V” pre-cat solvent based at 23% solids and $35 per gallon:



WFT = (100)(5)   X   (40)   =   $0.537 PER SQ FOOT

                 35        1064



WFT = (100)(5)   X   (35)   =   $0.715 PER SQ FOOT

                 23        1064


So by comparison the ESC Spray-Master costs $0.537 per square foot to achieve the proper build and brand “V” costs $0.715 per square foot to achieve the same build. This does not even take into account the required extra coats of the solvent base to get the proper build or all the solvents that are required. ESC Spray-Master is significantly less expensive to use.