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When, and When Not to Use EMTECH CL100 Crosslinker Additive

EMTECH CL100 CrossLinker is a water-soluble chemical additive used to elevate the durability and appearance of waterborne coatings by coupling the resin molecules of the film-forming finish into tighter, harder bonds when fully cured. The purpose of our CL100 Crosslinker additive is to give a performance boost to the physical characteristics of the finish it is being blended into. What are the physical characteristics of a film-forming water-based coating? — The top four characteristics are water and chemical resistance (these two are often grouped under reagent resistance), film hardness (see abrasion and scratch resistance), adhesion performance and gloss development. Water-based coatings that are cross-linked with CL100 demonstrate:

  • Improved water and chemical resistance.
  • Improved abrasion and scratch resistance.
  • Improved adhesion to difficult substrates.
  • Improved gloss and response to polishing.

Because we get a number of questions about how to use CL100 Crosslinker additive, I put together a short demonstration video that will explain the procedure:

Using CL100 Crosslinker in Emtech Waterborne Top Coats from Jeff Weiss on Vimeo.

Although rarely necessary in most wood finishing applications, sometimes a specific finishing scenario requires extra alcohol or detergent resistance, which calls for the use of CL100. For instance, commercial bar tops and restaurant tables receive a lot of chemical abuse from both the patrons and the cleaning staff. The addition of 5% CL100 Crosslinker additive into the waterborne finish of choice will boost the coatings resistance to alcohols and high pH cleaners to levels that will allow the cured finish to withstand a longer exposure to corrosive chemicals. The improved chemical/reagent resistance is sometimes required for kitchen cabinet surfaces that are near sinks, back-splashes and dishwasher units. Again, I want to stress that the use of CL100 is not always required, and we have more material being used without it then with – but as stated there are times when it is required.

Unlike acid catalysts, which have a very short pot-life, waterborne crosslinkers are reactive to oxygen only when the coating it is added to is allowed to form a film and air-dry. Therefore, the pot-life of finishes fortified with CL100 Crosslinker additive will remain functional for upwards of 100+ hours when stored in a sealed container—eliminating the expensive loss and waste of unused material. Any crosslinked material that is unused after the 100+ hour mark can be reactivated with 2% more CL100, or it can be used as a base/sealer coat.

Feel free to give us a call to discuss the use of CL100 for your next wood finishing project.


14 thoughts on “When, and When Not to Use EMTECH CL100 Crosslinker Additive”

  1. Has your water based lacquer with or without the catalyst been used successfully as a finish on acoustic musical instruments such as guitars?

    1. Yes. EM6000 and EM7000HBL are excellent options for acoustic guitars, both with and without the use of CL100.

  2. A water base poly was used on cabinets, I will sand them but will be unable to get 100 percent off, can I spray the EMTECH EM6000 over that?

    1. Jeff – Yes, as long as you clean with denatured alcohol and water mixed 1:1, and fine sand the existing finish with 400-grit aluminum oxide paper you will be OK with applying the EM6000 directly over the old finish.

  3. I sprayed 2 coats of em1000 and then 3 coats of em6300 for kitchen cabinets sanding between sealer and final coats with 320 grit. The look is great but find does not feel smooth. Does it require to be rubbed and polished to get it smooth?

    1. Tony — Thank you for your inquiry, and for your patience in waiting on my reply.
      If the “roughness” is due to over-spray you can easily remove that effect by lightly rubbing the dried lacquer surface with a clean, dry piece of brown craft paper. This will remove over-spray dust and will not leave any tell-tale scratches if performed properly.

  4. Hi,
    I need a clear finish for a bar top. What would you recommend as the best finish? Also prefer a “matte/flat” sheen.

    1. Dale – Thank you for your inquiry. We like the EM8000cv and the EM9300 Polycarbonate Urethane as bar top options. Both have been used in a wide array of bar/restaurant applications and are holding-up well. I strongly recommend that you use CL100 Crosslinker at 5% by liquid volume in the top coat of your choice.

  5. Marc DiGiaimo

    What is the shelf life of the Cross Linker if unopened? I have some from about 2 years ago that I never opened, and kept in a dark closed flammables cabinet. Think it’s still good?

    1. Marc — The shelf-life of CL100 is more/less indefinite as long as it is stored at a constant room temperature. Based on the conditions you describe I am confident that the material in question is 100% functional.


  6. Richard Hutchings

    I brushed 3 coats of EM6000 with the crosslinker in it on a guitar about 5 days ago. If I put more coats on tomorrow, will it still burn in? Should I sand first?

    1. Marty Schlosser

      Richard, you’ll need to sand prior to applying another coat because the last coat has dried for more than 24 hours. If you haven’t already done so, download the EM6000 technical data sheet from our website here, which will provide you all the info you require for using this lacquer. All the best with your guitar; we’d love to see some photos of it once it’s done.

  7. Can I brush 3 final coats of EM6000 with crosslinker in it or it’s better to use the mix only for the very last coat? It’s for a guitar, thanks!

    1. Loic – Thank you for your inquiry. We recommend that the CL100 Crosslinker is used in all coats of EM6000 and other Emtech topcoats to obtain the best performance of the crosslinking agent.
      As for brush-applied coats, yes, you can brush the EM6000.


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