Recent trends seen at such venues as the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show and the International Builder Show confirm an ongoing growth in premium European finishes for furniture, cabinets and other wood products. Those finishes range from ultra-high gloss to elegant satins. Capitalizing on the trend, Sherwin-Williams recently announced that it is offering Sayerlack brand finishes across the U.S.

Sayerlack finishes were previously only available in Europe. But Sherwin-Williams bought the Italian brand and began manufacturing Sayerlack formulas stateside, bringing what company officials describe as “advanced European technology” to wood products finishers on this side of the Atlantic.

Sherwin-Williams is marketing two product families under the Sayerlack brand. The first is a waterborne clear finish for interior applications. The second is a formaldehyde-free premium polyurethane finish.

Sayerlack Premium Polyurethane is especially designed to be a durable, scratch-resistant finish especially suited to furniture and cabinet applications.


Sayerlack Hydroplus AF71 is the waterborne finish, but Sherwin-Williams says it has none of the negative features that some finishers associate with waterborne finishes.

Joe Kujawski, business director for wood segments at Sherwin-Williams, describes Hydroplus as a “very user friendly seventh or eighth generation” of waterborne coatings. “It’s crystal clear in the bucket and on the product,” he said. “It dries faster and is more tolerant of climatic conditions. It flows and levels beautifully.”

Many finishers have criticized waterborne finishes for grain raising problems, but Kujawski said the Hydroplus formula has overcome that. “They’ve perfected the solvent blend so there is very little actual water in it, and the water is the first thing to flash off,” he said. “It’s not there long enough to cause grain raising.”

Developed in Italy, Hydroplus develops a final finish that Kujawski describes as “luxurious.”

“It’s got a hand that feels like polished marble,” he said, adding that it requires no special training or equipment to apply. Finishers can also use an optional catalyst system to further enhance the durability and performance of the finish.

Sherwin-Williams officials expect Hydroplus to be popular with wood products finishers as more look for environmentally responsible finishing alternatives. He says this is especially important as businesses recovering after the recession are looking to boost volume and are running up against permit limits on volatile organic chemicals (VOC). “Shops are scrambling to lower VOCs to increase volume,” Kujawski said.

He acknowledges that some finishing customers are leary of waterborne finishes, but he thinks they will be impressed by the Hydroplus finish and the process to apply it. “These are not your grandfather’s waterborne finishes,” he said. “It holds its own or surpasses solvent finishes today, and it also improves indoor air quality in the shop because there are minimal harmful substances. Staff is happier and safer and more productive.”

Joe Kujawski, business director for wood segments at Sherwin-Williams

Still, some shops are still going to insist on a solvent-born finish, and Sayerlack offers its Premium Polyurethane for those applications. Described as a high-performance, formaldehyde-free alternative to acid-cured resin technology, this product is designed to combine fast drying, excellent clarity and vertical hang with long pot life and scratch resistance attributes, making it especially well suited for residential furniture, kitchen cabinets and other interior wood products.

Because of its durability, Sayerlack Premium Polyurethane has potential in applications that will be subjected to high traffic and abuse, such as hospitality furniture and cabinetry. Kujawski described how Marriott vacation clubs are interested in the finish because it could help them avoid major costs in maintaining furniture. “Polyurethane is more durable than lacquer for commercial use,” said Kujawski. “It’s a step up.”

He said the Sayerlack polyurethane dries “a bit slower” than conversion varnish, and you do need to control dust in the shop for best application. Also, it’s a more hazardous material than the waterborne product, and finishers should be sure to use adequate respirators.

“It’s not the first coating a shop reaches for,” he said. “But it’s high build. One coat looks like two coats of a standard quality polyurethane, so you can get by with fewer coats. It can be buffed and polished so you can correct a little dust or orange peel.”

It’s all about sheen

One of the trademarks of some of the trending European finishes is the gloss. Both of the new Sayerlack finishes are available in five sheens to provide a wide range of options. “The high-end European look – high gloss, very clean – is growing,” said Kujawski. “But predominantly we’re still seeing lower sheens. When a shop applies a high-gloss finish, any imperfection is magnified. When using high gloss, a shop wants to use a higher quality to step up and pay a little more for premium flow and finish.”

Rather than just bringing the Sayerlack finishes over from Europe, Sherwin-Williams invested in manufacturing the finishes here to avoid supply chain issues. “It’s a lot more reliable supply to finishing shops now,” said Kujawski. “Sherwin-Williams prides itself on product availability.” All the Sayerlack finishes are available from any of the Sherwin-William Product Finishes locations in the U.S. and Canada.

For more information about Sayerlack products, visit

At a glance

Sayerlack Hydroplus AF71

·        Low odor/low VOC – less than 0.75 lbs./gal

·        Fast drying – highly productive

·        Excellent clarity

·        Excellent sanding – does not clog the sand paper

·        Outstanding chemical resistance

·        Very good vertical hang

Sayerlack Premium Polyurethane

·        3-hour pot life

·        3.0-4.0 mils wet film thickness

·        Faster dry to sand and to topcoat (an hour or less each)

·        Buffable for appealing polished effect

·        Excellent chemical, moisture and scratch resistance

·        No formaldehyde odor, No reportable VHAPS

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