Johnstone’s Aqua Guard Review

By Mike Cupit – Decorator Forum

Does anyone else think that Johnstone’s Aqua Guard is the holy grail of water-based satinwood paints? It does come with a few drawbacks, but as a professional Decorator, I’ve been using it for about a year now and I can’t think of anything to rival it. 

It’s a fully water-based paint, so it will never yellow. Touch dry after about an hour and recoatable after 4 hours, so you can easily apply two coats in a day. I buy mine from my local Johnstone’s Decorating Centre, who are brilliant with matching colours from other brands, although often I just get it mixed in white.

You do need an adhesion primer if you’re painting over old oil-based paint, and Johnstone’s Aqua Guard is no good if you’re painting exterior wood. But for skirting boards, doorframes, doors etc inside your house, there is literally nothing better.

The Downside to Johnstone’s Aqua Guard 

I feel like I need to be completely honest in my Johnstone’s Aqua Guard review, and there are a couple of drawbacks. It tends to ‘run’ as you’re applying it. You get used to it after a while. If I’m painting interior doors, I might apply a coat of Aqua Guard to one door, then the next, then revert to the first door to inspect it. I knock out any runs with a dry paintbrush, and then I crack on the with next. By looking over your work 15 minutes after you’ve painted something, you can avoid drips altogether.

The only other complaint might be that Johnstone’s Aqua Undercoat is a hybrid, so it can wreck your brush if you use if for prolonged periods. But all you need to do is wash your brush every 4 hours or so to stop it from clogging. I actually love the undercoat! It flies on and covers almost everything in one coat. And you can always use an alternative like one of the Zinsser primers instead if you wanted.

Why I love Johnstone’s Aqua Guard 

There was a time when water-based paints didn’t perform very well at all. As a Professional Decorator, I knew I should use them for environmental reasons, plus they don’t yellow like oil-based paints do. But they just felt like they had no body and the finish looked tacky.

I tried loads, and I carried on experimenting with different water-based paints, but I never found one I was happy with. Even when you did find one with a good finish, the durability was never good enough. Most of them are not durable enough to cope with the opening and shutting of interior doors. Johnstone’s Aqua Guard is the only one I’ve ever been happy with.

The finish of Johnstone’s Aqua Guard is amazing! So much better than even the old-fashioned oil-based alternatives. It doesn’t matter whether you apply it via brush, paint roller, or both. It settles so that roller and brush marks melt into each other.

Even though it can run a little on application, it is still one of the easiest paints to apply. The flow is fantastic, which means using it is nice and quick.

You should expect to need one coat of undercoat, followed by one coat of Aqua Guard to get a solid finish. You do sometimes need an extra coat of satinwood, but only on occasion.

Final Thoughts 

If you’re considering trying Johnstone’s Aqua Guard, then take it from someone who has used just about every water-based satinwood, you won’t find better. I first heard about this product on Trade Decorator, and I haven’t looked back since. It is easily the best trade satinwood on the market in my opinion, and you won’t be disappointed.



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