View Full Version : Finish for kitchen cabinets

Russ Massery
05-21-2005, 10:00 PM
I've started on the kitchen cabinets. Lately I've been thinking about using something besides poly. I would like to spray them. I've been looking at water-based lacquer is this a good finish for a kicthen to stand up to grease,etc.. But any suggestion would be appreciated. By the way the cabinets are maple with no stain...........

jack duren
05-21-2005, 10:21 PM
i take it your not satisfied with the poly look or results?

sometimes a change comes with satisfaction and disapointment.

first question is what are you looking to achieve with a different finish?

second question ...what properties would you like to keep of the poly if any?

everyone has there choices, so a better definition of your needs would be required.like wood and preferences, everyone will give a different answer....jack

Jim Becker
05-22-2005, 9:23 AM
My kitchen cabinets were finished with water bourne acrylics; Target Coatings PSL (now USL) and Fuhr International 9100. These products spray nicely, clean up easily and are very durable. Target also has some water bourne products that approach pre-cat lacquer durability without the associated environmental and personal danger. (Pre-cat lacquer is what is put on many factory cabinetry...you will almost never find anything "polyoneverything" on commercial work) It's a myth that poly is the most durable finish and it brings its own host of problems as does any finish.

Walt Pater
05-22-2005, 9:55 AM
I just finished some kitchen cabs with a satin ("medium rubbed") Sherwin-Williams pre-cat lacquer- VOC content of 675--toxic-o-rama! It was the first time I'd sprayed, the first time I had used lacquer and I was pleased with the results. Lacquers dry rapidly so you can recoat several times in one day. If you use something like this, please follow every rule about proper ventilation- this stuff was no-laughing matter volatile. Also, if you intend to thin, use the proprietary thinner.

Jim Becker
05-22-2005, 10:07 AM
Pre-cat lacquers really shouldn't be sprayed in or around your home...they really require proper ventilation as well as safety gear. In fact, I'll go so far as to say they really aren't a good choice for a non-pro shop that doesn't have a formal spray booth with all the works. Nasty stuff. That said, I know a lot of folks do use these products...I can only hope they are very, very careful...

Brian Hale
05-22-2005, 10:24 AM
I've sprayed Pre-Cat, Post-Cat and NC lacquer and it's by far my favorite finish for all the reasons Walt mentioned; fast dry time, sands easy between coats, durable and imparts a very very slight amber/warm tint without clouding the stain. On bare wood it makes the grain pop nicely. Since subsquent coats of Lacquer disolve the previous layer, if you mess up somehow, sand away the blemish and keep spraying.

Jim's concerns are very valid! Turn off anything with a pilot light (stove, water heater, furnace, etc) along with any electric applioances like your fridge. Spray during moderate temps and humidty.

I've never liked the finish of poly, looks too plastic for my tastes


jack duren
05-22-2005, 11:44 AM
pre-cat doesnt disolve between coats and both poly and pre-cat ive found both look like plastic.

as far as a spray both.....most paint crews dont pre-finish. cabinets are in the most part are finished on the job site. same safety care is required reguardless whether water base or flammable

i use water base contact adhesive yet it still makes me ill....jack

Jim Becker
05-22-2005, 11:50 AM
same safety care is required reguardless whether water base or flammable

i use water base contact adhesive yet it still makes me ill....jack

Not necessarily true...it depends on the particular product you are using. With solvent-based finishes you have both VOC (volatile organic compounds) and explosive issues to deal with. The latter is clearing something not easy to deal with in a home-shop situation. With water bourne products you may have VOC, but many of them these days are even "cleaner" than the latex paint you buy at the 'borg. Zero or near-zero VOC is becoming quite common. You still need to wear a respirator, but more and more it's for particulate protection rather than from VOC. But the explosive element is gone.

In the case of your water based contact cement, you still have some pretty nasty stuff just suspended in the water for application convenience. The same can hold true for finishes, but again, it depends on the product. Most, if not all, water borne finishes are acrylic based and the latest products are wonderful from a safety standpoint!

jack duren
05-22-2005, 11:58 AM
considering most finishing is done within 16" to 24" from ones nose i think ill stick with a mask and proper ventilation :) .....jack

Richard McComas
05-22-2005, 12:44 PM
I just sprayed a set of kitchen cabinets with Fuhrís 375 (waterborne pre-cat lacquer). Itís the first time I have used it or any waterborne products, was very happy with the results.

It sprays well, cleans up with water and about 10 percent household ammonia.

My finish schedule was.

Sand to 220, I coat of Zinsser Seal coat (a 2# cut of shellac) then sanded with fine grit sanding sponge.
The seal coat greatly helps reduce sanding from grain rising.

Two coats of 375 sanding with 400 girt paper between coats.

The second and final coat of 375 came of the gun so well that no rubbing out of the finish was necessary. I use a satin finish and sure doesnít look like plastic to me.

The 375 is an approved by KCMA if that means anything.

Todd Burch
05-31-2005, 9:09 PM
Russ, I usually use pre-cat lacquer. It's fast, it's forgiving, and it's tough. I've also used latex paint, oil based paint, shellac, milk paint and pigmented lacquer. For a kitchen remodel I did back in '96 I even used automotive paint.

As Richard eluded too, the KCMA (Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturer's Association) has set up guidelines for the different types and grades of finishes. A search on the net will tell you what those guidelines are, then you can ask your supplier which finishes meet the standard you choose to finish to.