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My Review of Sherwin Williams Pro Industrial Water-Based Alkyd Urethane Enamel

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Matt is a professional painter and freelance writer, sharing his knowledge, house-painting tips, and product reviews.

Using Sherwin Williams Pro Industrial Enamel

I'm a long-time user of Sherwin Williams paint but relatively new to their Pro Industrial line of coatings. I used this product to paint basement bar cabinets and several staircase railings, using black in the gloss finish for both projects. My overall experience spraying and brushing this enamel was positive, but there are a couple things to be aware of.

Pro Industrial Enamel vs. Emerald Urethane

Similar to Emerald urethane enamel, this enamel is also a water-based alkyd that dries a little harder for increased durability. The enamel also dries a little slower, allowing for better leveling The smoothness of the finish is similar to that of a pure alkyd finish, but not quite as smooth looking.

I was told this product is basically Emerald urethane enamel with a different label, but I don't know if the two are exactly the same, or not. Having sprayed Emerald urethane multiple times, the two do perform similarly, but it is to my understanding that the Pro Industrial enamel is the contractor version. Price-wise, both products aren't cheap, but not bad options for brushing trim or painting cabinets.

Prepping Bar Cabinets and Railings for the Enamel

The surface of the stairway railings and bar cabinets, both of which are oak, were thoroughly prepared before painting. My preparation included cleaning the surface with Dirtex, filling the wood grain with Aqua Coat filler, sanding thoroughly, and spraying two coats of BIN shellac primer.

For this project, using a black paint color, I did not tint the white BIN primer. In the past, I've had problems with the finish after tinting BIN. After spraying a nice even coat, the black color I used covered really well over the white primer in only two coats, even the hand rails I painted by hand. No third coat was needed.

Using this product in combination with two sprayed and sanded coats of BIN primer really made the gloss finish shine nicely on the cabinet doors and railings. Normally I use a semi-gloss finish, but my customer wanted more gloss. The gloss finish does have a beautiful shine to it.

Freshly sprayed cabinets on one of my drying racks.

Freshly sprayed cabinets on one of my drying racks.

Spraying and Brushing Pro Industrial Hybrid Enamel

I used Pro Industrial enamel to paint basement bar cabinets and staircase spindles and railings, using white for the spindles and black for everything else. I sprayed the enamel with my HVLP sprayer, except the wooden railings, for which I carefully brushed.

Spraying performance: Once I figured out the right thinning ratio this product sprayed nice and leveled out like glass. Thinning this product is a must when using an HVLP sprayer to get a nice finish without orange peel texture, or even to get the sprayer to spray it at all. An airless sprayer would spray this product without thinning, but I would still thin it down anyway to improve leveling when spraying.

Thinning: Most water-based alkyd enamel I've worked with is very thick and this one's no exception. First I strained the enamel to avoid potential spray gun clogs. I filled up most of my one quart HVLP cup with the strained enamel and added four ounces of water. I sprayed it with my new HVLP sprayer, using a number four needle and fluid nozzle, which produced an automotive-like finish after I dialed in the right spray gun settings.

Brushing performance: I didn't thin the enamel before brushing it onto some staircase railings, but the leveling was excellent. Most of the brush marks leveled out and vanished within a few minutes. I discovered that this product does drip easily if you brush it on a little too heavy. I really like the leveling of Pro Classic acrylic enamel, but this product is easier to work with because it doesn't dry as fast. For brushability, this is one of the best products I have ever used.

Durability: Water-based alkyd enamel dries harder than regular acrylic enamel. The added hardness makes it a good choice for kitchen cabinets and trim. The finish is also smoother and easier to maintain. The one problem with water-based alkyd enamel though is that dark colors in the ultra deep base take a lot longer to harden and cure, due to the extra colorant in the paint and the alkyd formula.

To be honest, I recommend not using this product in the ultra deep base. I had an issue with fingerprints showing on one of the black doors I sprayed and handled a few days later. The fingerprint would not wipe off, and I had to spray the door again. Exposing the enamel to water before it's fully cured can also leave permanent marks in the finish. Dark colors in the ultra deep base finish remain soft for an extended period of time, but I did not have this problem at all using the extra white base.

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Is Pro Industrial Water-Based Alkyd Enamel Worth Using?

I have only used this product for two projects and found the brushing and spraying performance to be very good. The gloss finish is very shiny and smooth if you want something even more glossy than semi-gloss. The semi-gloss finish would cover better and show less surface imperfections. I had to special order the gloss finish because none of the stores in my area stock it.

My main complaint with this product is the delayed drying with darker colors in the ultra deep base. I've had this problem using Emerald urethane enamel as well. If you use black, or any color in the ultra deep base, you have to let the enamel cure for at least five to seven days before you touch it, or pick up painted doors. If you pick up a door before it's had enough time to dry, you will mark the surface with fingerprints that don't wipe off.

Do not expose the enamel to water until it's fully cured, which can take up to thirty days. The coating thickness also impacts the dry time. If you apply a thick coat, it will take a lot longer to dry.

White and lighter colors in the extra white base dry a lot faster without any issues. I sprayed literally hundreds of staircase spindles with this product in the extra white base and the enamel dried in a couple hours.

The spraying and brushing performance of this Pro Industrial enamel is very similar to Emerald urethane enamel. Either product is a good choice for painting trim and doors. The coverage is good compared with other products I've used. Another good option is Pro Classic enamel, which is also available as a water-based alkyd. The acrylic version is great. Make sure you wear gloves working with any water-based alkyd because it's hard to wash off.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Matt G.