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Thread: Painting birch plywood?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
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    Painting birch plywood?

    I am getting ready to paint a bookcase made of birch plywood for a client. What is the best method for getting a nice smooth finish? I read where you should sand the plywood lightly before primer and I've also read where sanding is not needed. What kind of paint should I use. What would you guys recommed?

    Thanks
    Richard

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Dallas, Tx.
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    Many different ways....

    Richard, do you have spray equipment? That would be the best way to ensure a smooth finish. But what material? Consider the use that a book case receives and take it from there. Remember the glossier the finish, the harder the finish. Birch plywood is easy to finish and I would use Bin pigmented shellac for the under coat. I would spray three or four coats, knocking off the fuzz with 220 grit between coats. I would finish it in lacquer. If I wanted a really tough finish, I'd spray a clear coat of polyurethane. Personally I don't like gloss furniture and would opt for a satin finish.
    Phil in Big D
    The only difference between a taxidermist and the taxman, is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. Mark Twain

  3. #3
    I went thru this recently.

    1. Sand lightly with 220. Tack off the dust.
    2. Use an alkyd primer. If you have any knots or voids, use a shellac-based primer (like Zinsser BIN).
    3. Sand lightly again with 220. Some say to tack off the dust, but I think it actually HELPS the succeeding coat to adhere and fill.
    4. Use an oilbased paint for the top coat. I've used urethane latex and latex enamel to good effect, but the IMHO the best way to minimize blocking is to use oil. I've had decent results with a low nap roller. Thinning the top coat will slow dry time and help any ripples to flow out.
    5. You can use poly on top to make it rock hard (polycrylic on latex; pu on oil).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    I always sand the plywood with 180 before any finishing to clean it up and get rid of any fuzz, etc.

    I agree with the spraying advice, although it's my personal preference to pre-finish the components flat (masking off for joinery) rather than spray into a box. Given the use of the piece, take what Phil mentioned about that to heart...avoid "latex paint" for a bookcase as it has this nasty "feature" called blocking where stuff like books will stick to it. Use either an oil-based enamel or a 100% acrylic water borne product or lacquer if you have a safe environment to spray it. And let the finish fully cure before use...that's not the next day after finishing, either.

    Phil, don't forget that polyurethane varnish is "softer" than other varnishes...that's part of the penalty for getting the abrasion resistance. The "give" gives you that. In this application, it may also alter the color unacceptably if it's the oil based version. As you know, water borne polyurethane has less of that effect, but it's still just an acrylic finish with some poly resin added.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Given the use of the piece, take what Phil mentioned about that to heart...avoid "latex paint" for a bookcase as it has this nasty "feature" called blocking where stuff like books will stick to it. Use either an oil-based enamel or a 100% acrylic water borne product or lacquer if you have a safe environment to spray it. And let the finish fully cure before use...that's not the next day after finishing, either.
    once again I learn something every time I log on. I have had that happen before, but never really knew why. I instinctively went to oil based finishes after that thinking it was just that cheap waterbased paint problem ... thanks again fellas !!!

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