High Performance

Winner of Fine Woodworking's "Best Overall Choice Award," High Performance Topcoat was voted as the hardest, most durable consumer polyurethane topcoat.

<-- Technical Data Sheet

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High Performance Variations



  • FLAT


Step 1: Preparation for High Performance   (All videos are attached in Video division )

Preparation for Raw Wood or Raw Wood Projects That Are to be Stained 

See our video: How to Prep Sand Raw Wood

  1. Sanding Schedule: 120-grit followed by 150- or 220-grit sandpaper.

  2. Remove dust with a water-dampened rag or oil-free tack cloth.

  3. Let dry completely before applying GF product.

  4. Do not over-sand with fine-grit sandpapers; this will close and seal the wood grain, preventing ideal color absorption.

  5. Do NOT use steel wool with water-based finishes; the particles will get trapped in the finish and rust.

Preparation for Projects with an Existing Finish (Sealed Surface)

For high-use areas with heavy grime build-up and oil from hands, give your project a deeper cleaning.
See our video: How to Prepare Existing Finishes

  1. Scuff clean with a Scotch Brite pad and a 50:50 mix of denatured alcohol and water. Dry 1-2 hours. Avoid cleaning with products containing phosphates (salt), which can linger in the substrate and produce a white haze. If your project requires a deeper cleaning, see Power Prep Cleaning Highly Used Existing Finishes below.

  2. Sand lightly with a fine-grade (220-320) foam sanding pad or 400-grit sandpaper.

  3. Remove dust with a non-sticky tack cloth or a water-dampened rag.

  4. Let dry completely before applying General Finishes product.

Power Prep Cleaning Highly Used Existing Finishes

For high-use areas such as kitchen cabinets or table tops with heavy grime build-up and oil from hands, give your project a "Power" clean. See our video: How to Power Prep Existing High Use Finishes for Stain or Paint

  1. Scrub clean with a detergent, such as Spic and Span or Dawn, using a Scotch Brite pad.

  2. Rinse well with water.

  3. Scrub clean with a Scotch Brite pad and a 50:50 mix of denatured alcohol and water. Dry 1-2 hours.

  4. Sand lightly with a fine-grade (220-320) foam sanding pad or 400-grit sandpaper.

  5. Remove dust with a non-sticky tack cloth or a water-dampened rag. 

  6. Let dry completely before applying General Finishes product.

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General Finishes High-Performance Water Based Topcoat Application Steps


  1. Stir topcoat to reincorporate solids that have settled to the bottom of the can before and throughout the application process.

  2. If desired, thin with 10-15% distilled water or General Finishes Extender. The extender will improve flow and leveling and increase open time, which is helpful in dry climates. 

  3. Apply 3 coats of High Performance. More coats will not improve durability.

    • Hand application: Apply a liberal amount of product using an acrylic bristle brush, foam brush, pad applicator, or roller. Avoid pressure and excessive back brushing. Brush along the wood grain using smooth, even strokes with light lap marks. Let lap marks dry - they WILL tighten down.

    • Spray application: Before spraying, strain topcoat through a fine-mesh filter. HVLP: 1.1mm-1.3mm spray tip, medium air cap. Verify tip sizes with your equipment supplier. Keep your gun at a 90* angle, 6-8" from the surface. On large, flat areas, use wet, even patterns 6-8" wide. For narrow surfaces, reduce the fan pattern to 2-3" wide to reduce overspray. Overlap each pass 25% to conceal lines. Wear a full filter respirator (NIOSH/MSHA-approved) and work in a ventilated space. Read here for more information on spraying techniques.

    • Face frames on cabinets: High Performance can be successfully applied by hand to cabinet face frames or edges with a brush, pad or small, cabinet-specific roller such as Whizz Velour brand.

  4. If a faster build is desired over raw wood, use General Finishes Sanding Sealer for the first coat, followed by 2 coats of High-Performance Topcoat.

  5. Dry 2+ hours between coats in ideal conditions: 70*F 20*C; 50-70% humidity. Be sure to allow adequate dry time.You can tell if a water-based finish is dry if it forms a powder when lightly sanded with a fine-grade (220-320) foam sanding pad or 400-grit sandpaper. If in doubt, wait longer. Rushing the dry time can cause "blush," which is clouding in the finish due to moisture trapped between the layers. Increase dry time if:

    • Humidity is over 80%

    • 3+ coats are applied

    • Thick coats are applied

    • Applying over an existing sealed finish

    • Layering General Finishes water- and oil-based products:

      • Water over oil: Let oil-based products dry 72+hr before applying water-based products

      • Oil over water: Let water-based products dry 24+hr before applying oil-based products

    • To accelerate dry time in humid conditions, add General Finishes Accelerator and work in a space with good ventilation and air movement. If you decide to re-coat before the recommended time, test dryness.

  6. Finish sand between coats with a fine-grade (220-320) foam sanding pad or 400-grit sandpaper to improve smoothness and adhesion.

  7. Remove dust with a vacuum, oil-free tack cloth or clean water-dampened rag before re-coating.


Cure Time
Water-based finishes cure and harden for full use after 21 days in ideal conditions. Avoid placing heavy objects on surfaces that have not completely cured. Treat gently, and do not clean with commercial products during the curing period.

Tips to prevent streaking during hand-application:
See our video: How to Prevent Streaking with Water Based Topcoat


  • Use a semi-gloss or gloss sheen with little to no flatting agents. The more flatting agents, the more likely a topcoat will streak when applied. 

  • To avoid streaking with the flatter sheens, apply a liberal amount of product and avoid using pressure and back-brushing. Wipe along the wood grain using smooth, even strokes. For large surfaces, apply the topcoat with a large applicator, such as a paint pad.

  • Remove any streaks that occur by buffing with 400-grit sandpaper or fine-grade (220-320) sanding pad, or sanding well and re-coating.

  • For the smoothest result, apply with a spray gun.

Mixing Sheens
You mix can High-Performance Topcoat sheens to adjust your sheen. For example, you can mix High Performace Flat and High-Performance Gloss to obtain a different sheen.

Furniture Care and Maintenance

Cure First
You have just finished applying a fine furniture finish. Allow 21 days for the finish to cure before cleaning.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

  • Remove dust with a water-dampened cloth. Dust can build up over time and may scratch or dull finishes if not removed regularly. 

  • Remove fingerprints, cooking fumes and smoking residue with mild soap and water. These contaminants will not harm the finish, but they accumulate on surfaces and dull the original luster. 

  • As with all fine furniture finishes, avoid using furniture polish, cleaners or dusting sprays that contain silicone, alcohol, ammonia and anything acidic. Exception: We have successfully cleaned with Clorox wipes.

  • Clean up water, alcohol and food spills in a timely manner and use placemats & coasters to protect the finish.

  • Future finishes or touch-ups may not adhere properly or perform as desired over a contaminated surface. Some contaminants, such as silicone, seep through finish into the wood and often cannot be removed.

  • Avoid excessive exposure to direct sunlight, high temperatures or high humidity. These can damage furniture and finishes.

Limited Warranty

General Finishes products must be tested to your complete satisfaction before using, including compatibility with other manufacturers products. General Finishes will be responsible only for the cost of our products and will not be responsible for any costs such as labor, damage, or replacement costs.


If you scrape, sand, or remove old paint, you may release lead dust. LEAD IS TOXIC. EXPOSURE TO LEAD DUST CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ILLNESS, SUCH AS BRAIN DAMAGE, ESPECIALLY IN CHILDREN. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD ALSO AVOID EXPOSURE. Wear a NIOSH-approved respirator to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself and your family by contacting the National Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects. Do not swallow; first aid: drink water to dilute product. May cause eye and skin irritation; first aid: flush eyes thoroughly with water. This product contains a chemical know to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects. Chemicals that also are included in all the products of General Finishes Company.

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