Current formulations of Fabulon have evolved from the original lacquer-based version to the waterbased and oil-based products you can buy now. I’m pretty picky when it comes to clear wood finishes, and I have to admit that I find fault with most brands for the same, recurring reason.
Everyone likes fast results, and manufacturers are quick to point out that few of us have time these days to take our wood floors out of commission for more than a few hours. I’m not sure how people of yesteryear managed to raise bigger families than we do, with stay-at-home lifestyles, while also refinishing their floors with slow-dry products, but apparently we can’t manage that trick any more. Trouble is, if a wood coating dries too quickly, brush strokes harden and remain on the surface, making a smooth finish virtually impossible to achieve. This is a distinct danger, and it’s one that I scrutinized Fabulon closely for. Another related problem with many fast-drying wood coatings is the tendency for waterbased versions to form bubbles as they’re applied. Without time for these bubbles to burst before hardening, you end up with a bumpy mess that’s really not your fault.
Solvent-based Fabulon is rated for recoating in four hours, and the waterbased Crystal formulation is ready in one hour. That sounded dangerously fast drying to me, so it was with my usual skepticism about fast drying finishes that I used both versions in my shop, paying particular attention to how the finish flows out before drying. The solvent-based Fabulon had lots of time to settle and smoothen before drying, and though the waterbased version did form bubbles when applied with a brush (as most all brands of waterbased urethane do), it was bubble-free when applied with a paint application pad. Fabulon is also readily available and economically priced ($30/gallon oil-based and $43/gallon waterbased).