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Professional decorators like Owatrol, so should you!

Listed under Blog, mark-roberts, Owatrol Posted Dec 03 2017

owatrol UK Professional decorators like Owatrol. Especially in hot weather, Owatrol paint conditioners are suitable for adding to water based and oil based paint, to improve their finish. (Updated original from Dec 2012)

Owatrol oil

We add Owatrol to oil based paints to reduce brushmarks and also to cope with awkward ambient temperatures.

Owatrol is also a tremendous rust inhibitor and wood preservative… WD40 of paint!

Owatrol oil is also the key ingredient in the company’s extended product range, like E-B that turns any water-borne finish paint into a penetrating primer. They have CIP corrosion inhibiting primer for treating metal in the harshest industrial environment, all these products underpinned by Owatrol oil.

Owatrol oil has been around for years, and in the USA it is branded as Penetrol.

Floetrol, helping water-based paint apply better

In extreme hot or cold rooms, Floetrol tends to improve the flow of water based eggshell and gloss. With an extended drying time, you can expect less flashing, longer working time, smoother finish. A conditioner will not add body / bulk to water based paint, but otherwise, with a decent brush, you can achieve very pleasing results with Floetrol in acrylic eggshells etc!

I would also add Floetrol to water-based wall paints to improve flow and reduce / eliminate orange peel effect. If you add 1 litre of Floetrol to 5 litres of acrylic emulsion paint it will definitely flow well. You also create an extra 1 litre of “paint”. Coverage is often improved especially compared to emulsion paint knocked down with water.

Criticisms of Floetrol
Some say that it is a waste of product, and a waste of money. Like all products there is a time and a place, so blanket dismissal is not helpful.

Snake oil or fish oil?

Owatrol oil is the core ingredient to all their products, but nobody outside the Owatrol labs really knows what Owatrol is, not even the guys who sell it!

It may be fish oil, or it may not. Talking to Gary at Owatrol UK recently, the story goes that someone noticed that the paintwork on an old fishing trawler was rust free. How could that be? Owatrol was developed, or so the myth will lead us to believe, on the back of an idea that it was something in the fish… It could well be a myth, because some big corporation with a lab full of boffins tried to replicate it – and couldn’t. So maybe it isn’t a form of fish oil at all, or maybe they ground up the wrong fish bits.

Owatrol has its place

We may not know the chemistry, but what painters do know is that white spirit and water aren’t always your friend when paint is not behaving.

Sufficient Owatrol in oil based paint, or Floetrol in water based paint, really can improve the paint and the finish. Owatrol doesn’t degrade oil paint in the way that white spirit does, and it doesn’t smell too bad either. Odourless white spirit has it beat for smell, though!) I also heard a rumour that Owatrol makes white oil paint go yellow over time, but this has been refuted. It dries clear. (White oil paint usually yellows because of alkyd content!)

Owatrol for marine

Marine environments push paint to the limit, and I know that Penetrol, the US branded version of Owatrol is a favourite with master boat painter Jay Greer, a veteran of 50 years in the trade. It certainly worked a treat assisting the flow and open time of Epifanes Boot lac which I was using in a windy San Francisco yard.

Alternatives to paint conditioners

Some manufacturers eg Tikkurila don’t want us to use conditioners in water-borne kitchen enamel. Fair enough, that is where we add water first to ease the paint.

Sikkens don’t want painters to add white spirit to oil paint either, but when confronted with a suggestion for an alternative, the lab guys apparently whispered, “white spirit?” That is when Hilderings developed the Flow Control Paint kettle that heats water-based and oil-based paint to improve flow.

It works. Mark Roberts in N Wales is just one Traditional Painter member using it every day, successfully and efficiently without paint conditioners.

Some manufacturers don’t produce paints that level too well, so every bit helps.

Any other observations, or extreme uses of owatrol products, please add them here. And if you have questions for Owatrol, check out their page here on Traditional Painter’s Trade Corner.



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2 comments to “Professional decorators like Owatrol, so should you!”

  1. imaginarynumber

    Owatrol is one of those products that everyone should use, especilly the DIYer.

    I had always thought that it is a mix of linseed oil and turps (and other stuff).

  2. imaginarynumber

    mind you it does have a putty like smell, similar to my dogs’ unscented salmon oil.

    Having googled salmon oil and rust I see that rustoleum cite fish oil as the basis of their paint empire

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