All about "Future"

Tools 'n' Tips Article by Matt "Swanny" Swan in 2003


Future is a water-soluble acrylic floor coating that was developed by S.C. Johnson Co. in Racine, Wisconsin for linoleum flooring. In Australia is can be found under the names “Super Shine” or “Shine Magic”. In the Netherlands it is known as “Pronto Wax for wooden floors” with a brown cap.  In the United Kingdom it is known as “Klear” or “Krystal Klear”. Some time in the dim and forgotten past, a modeler discovered that this stuff, when applied to both side of a piece of clear polystyrene, would make it appear thinner and clearer. It will help to hide minor scratches – simply pour some Future into a small cup and dip your canopy into it or brush it on and let dry– it’s a kind of magic! After you dip your canopy (or other parts) in Future, be sure to place a cover over it to prevent dust from collecting on it. Also it is helpful to lay down a piece of tissue paper or a paper towel to set the part on, this will wick away any excess so that you will not have a heavy buildup on the low points. It has been reported that if you leave a small piece of sprue on the part and dip and let dry, then remove the sprue it stop's the splintering you sometimes get when removing part off the sprue. I have not verified this yet. And finally, let the Future cure for around 48 hours before masking to reduce the possibility of pulling it off with the masking material.   


It is also useful as a sealant prior to AND after the application of decals. It does produce a glossy finish so many modelers will introduce a flattening material (Tamiya Flat base 30%) or only use it as a pre-decal sealer. The sealing coat of Future (usually one coat is sufficient) should be allowed to dry for 24 to 48 hours before applying decals. After decals have been applied and everything has dried completely (24 to 48 hours) you can apply a dull or flat finish safely such as Testors dull coat lacquer or Polly Scale clear flat. Testors Dull Coat is a lacquer so it should be applied in light coats to avoid orange peel. 

 Some modelers even apply decals using Future to wet/set the decal with. I have not tried this myself however I have had several reports of it working well for people. The only application that you should be concerned about is on a totally white finish as it has been reported to cause yellowing in that instance. It is not necessary to thin this product prior to use. It can be applied directly from the bottle by either paintbrush or airbrush (15 to 20 psi), clean up with an ammonia-based window cleaner like Windex or if you are in the U.K., Windolene. It is non-toxic and non-reactive. If using the Tamiya Flat Base you may not want to use Windex for clean up as it can react with the Tamiya product and cause gumming in an airbrush. Because Future is a true Acrylic coating washes that are oil or Turpenal based will not affect it as they would lacquer or enamel based coatings. 

If you screw up the application you can remove the dried Future with Windex, Windolene or simply let it soak in a cup of Future overnight. It is important that the clear parts are clean and free of wax or oils (such as your finger print) prior to application otherwise these contaminants will repel the Future and give unsatisfactory results in the end. 

Some modelers are using Future as an adhesive for photo etched and brass parts. The bond is somewhat tenuous and I think I’ll stick (little pun there) to super glue myself.

Future can be used for making mud puddles or standing water when doing a diorama. It's not as thick as epoxy, but it's easier to work with. And, it doesn't take nearly as long to dry as resin type clear mediums. Pastel powders can also be mixed with it to create grime, mud, yuck, or whatever.

Use Future for instrument dial faces. It may take many more applications than epoxy, but you don't get the domed effect you do with epoxy, and Future is clearer.

You can add talcum powder to Future to make quick drying seam filler that is hard, but sands easily.

If you want to create your own shades of transparent colors, food coloring can be mixed with Future for the desired effect. If you mess up, you haven't invested as much money as you would combining clear paints.

Future as a sealer over decals allows the modeler to use an oil based paint mixture thinned with Turpenoid to color to darken panel lines etc. The Future will prevent the oil paint from marking the surface and you can use a paper towel or q-tip to remove as much as you want until you get the effect that you desire.

If you do your own mold making and resin casting, Future is a great clear coat to use on your masters or molds to ensure a clean casting. You can either brush it or spray it on. The clay you use to make your master mold can be used over and over again, as the Future does not seem to harm it.

Mix a little SNJ powder with Future and have a rock hard gloss silver finish.

When airbrushing a complete model as a sealant, occasionally, you may have problems with it not leveling out and imparting a 'pebbly' finish, the solutions are: 

1.      Apply a second coat and many times this will rectify the problem. Applying a wet coat just short of creating puddles or runs will help.

2.      Add a couple drops of a liquid dishwashing detergent (like Ivory, or Dawn, or such) to the jar holding the Future to be sprayed. What that does is help the Future 'break' it's natural surface tension and help it to 'level out' faster. Also, mix in about 15% to 20% Polly Scale airbrush thinner.

3.      Another avenue would be to add a few drops of Windex to the paint cup to reduce the surface tension of the Future.

4.      A few modelers have been happy with the results from sanding the surface with 3200 or even 6000 grit sandpaper.

5.      Try using a little 80% rubbing alcohol to thin the Future with and adjust your airbrush air pressure to about 15 to 20 psi. 

All of these approaches have worked for modelers in the past. Regardless, this pebbling will not affect the application of decals and in most cases disappears once a final dull coat is applied. I have been using Future for so long that I cannot remember the first model that I coated with it and have never had this ‘pebble’ effect happen so these possible solutions are as reported by other modelers and caution should be exercised when experimenting with them. 

Stripping Future:

Future can be stripped from the canopy in several ways.

1. Windex.

2. Soak in Future overnight.

3. Chameleon Paint Stripper.

4. Ammonia. One modeler reported that he had fogging problems after using superglue, here is an excerpt from his solution using ammonia:

“I dipped a q-tip into pure household ammonia and started to scrub the canopy. Well, it worked PERFECTLY. In less than 30 seconds the future was stripped, and the fogging went with it, and I was back down the original clear plastic surface, undamaged. Amazingly, even though I had painted the frames after dipping in future, the ammonia did not attack the future under the painted frames - the paint stayed intact.

So next time you dip a canopy in future and something goes wrong, like dust, a fingerprint, or a thick spot in a corner, just take a q-tip and straight ammonia and you can undo it in seconds.”

Additional information on its use and techniques can be found at… 

I hope that you have found this information to be helpful. If you have any other information or tips that you think should be included in this lesson please forward them to me at:

Matt "Swanny" Swan

Photos and text © by Matt "Swanny" Swan