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a few things to be aware of when using waterbase finishes

I have just come  from a mans house who recently refinished his kitchen cabinets, he wasn’t a professional finisher when he started the project but was interested in the game and had the spirit to jump in and figure things out. He came into the store and asked for a water based material as he was going to be doing this work in his house and garage while the family continued their daily lives. choosing a water based material was a correct choice.

The gentleman was friendly, enthusiast and good spirited but not at all familiar with the trade so I told him that if he were to have any trouble to give me a call. Sure enough Saturday morning I got the call. He was having troubles for sure but they were easily resolved with the right spray gun that I lent to him from my collection.

Having the right size gun is essential with water based materials a 1.7 mm tip or a 2.0 is what I prefer.

Now then, all went smooth from there on out until his wife got a little glue on the surface of the finish and tried to take it off with 409 and a rag. To her great shock she took off the glue and all the finish right down to the bare wood. That was the living end, after all that work! the wife was in tears, the husband was in despare after all that work and both decided that the sales guy was going to have to be shot for this grieviouse mis-repesentation of the product!

The next day I got a call from the husband who was now under the impression that the whole system was a failure and that it all  had to be redone — Why was the coating so soft ?

On close inspection he did apply the material correctly and didn’t over load the materials on the surface, he used a water based grain filler and so was OK there (  had he used a solvent based grain filler and had not let that fully fully dry, like 48 hours or more that  would have caused problems). So what was going on here?

The answer?  nothing was wrong! the materials just needed a longer cure time. Mrs Enthusiastic scrubbed the glue a mere 48 hours after it had been applied.

409 shouldn’t be used on your new cabinets in the first place even when they are fully cured.

The point here is that you have to let the water based lacquers fully cure.  and full cure comes after 30 days! not that they are not hard enough to install in a few days but if you think that you are going to have immediate abuse then you should hold the parts a few days longer before installing them.

After 4 days of curing the finish was twice as hard. it still loosen up a little and lost some finish with vigorous scrubbing and 409 but it was twice as hard.

On a close study of the KCMA ( Kitchen Cabinet Manufactures Association) tests that the materials passed.  they make the point in  the tiny fine print that the doors tested had been let allowed to cure for 30 days befor they were subjected to the chemical testing.

When you think about it, the water-based materials have to be allowed to air dry. There are no other solvents other than water. The other thing you have to think with is the fact that the materials are going to dry from the top down, I.e they are going to dry on the surface with the deeper and deeper layers drying last.

I have found that once you have let the stuff fully cure it it actually far tougher and far more chemically resistant than their solvent base counterparts.  Ya, just have to let them dry !  

I have promised the homeowner that I would return in 30 days and would test again the hardness of the materials at which point We’ll have full dry and one heck of a finish.

There are two lessons here:

  1. You have to figure in to your equation letting the materials fully cure. That doesn’t mean that you can’t install them until then but if your do install the cabinets you need to know that you have to be gental with the finish for a month or so.
  2. Have the right equipment and read all the printed materials about the materials you are going to be using so that you know what you should expect.

I’ll post the pictures when I get the from the homeowner after the first of the year.

The water based lacquer by the way was Gemini’s titanium white with the white sanding sealer under that

Greg Saunders
Reseda, California

November 20, 2008 - Posted by | CIC Centurion, water based Conversion Varnish, Finishing failures and the fix, Tips and Tricks, Water based Lacquers, Wood finishing | , , ,

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