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An offline primer on Cabinet Finishes... (Thanks Henry!)

Posted by Jim -ATS on June 2nd, 2000 10:23 AM

Sent: Thursday, June 01, 2000 7:41 PM
Subject: cabinet finish products

Hi Jim,

My cabinet guy refuses to finish my cabinets as I'd like, regardless of his contract, unless I choose a "shelf" color. The raw wood is maple. I want a 1st coat of a translucent cream - just enough to even out the natural wood color. I'd like to top that with a "chocolate wash" which will barely stick in the crevices of the raised panel doors. Top that with a clear satin finish. (He wants to use laquer.) Do you know of a company that produces such products and sells them at retail (shelf availability)? This doesn't seem like a difficult request to me, as every prefinished cabinet company sold seems to have a beige finish with a chocolate wash available. Secondly, is laquer a good choice for kitchen cabinets? Please advise, if possible. Thanks.


(From Jim, June 2)

Hopefully, this little primer from Henry on cabinet finishes will help. Henry’s the champ! Post questions directly to the board anytime, it benefits everyone that way. Good luck on your project, and stick to your guns. (You still have the money, that’s your leverage!)

I am going to post this online as a long message, so you can see it there, too.

Jim -ATS

(From Henry, June 1)
Hi, Jim. I tried to find an address for Debbie so I could copy her directly but couldn't find one in the gibberish at the bottom.

As far as the finish on Debbie’s cabinets, lacquer is not a bad choice but I don't think that it offers enough protection in the tough environment of a kitchen cabinet. The reason that the builder wants to use it is because he can spray on several coats in a day, which would be OK if he would end up with about 10 coats and sand after every 3. Fat chance of that. The water based poly is not bad. It offers good protection and dries pretty quickly. My only gripe with it is that these tend to look milky in certain light.
My top choices would be either an oil based poly (dries slow and takes 3 coats with sanding between them so one coat a day is max) or a conversion varnish that is a catalyzed varnish or lacquer that requires heat to set up well. This is the finish that is on pre-finished flooring.
Really, any of these would be OK but a lot depends on how many coats, intermediate sandings and the like as to how good a job you get.
One of my buddies bought some Kraft Made cabinets for his bathroom and they are junk. They have a nice face frame and doors but that and the strip in the back that you screw to the wall is the only real wood. Everything else is particle board. The toe kick strip is 1/8" with the "picture of wood" plastic on top. And they were "only" $900 for the 2 cabinets and a few small accessories. We could have bought real wood and plywood and made them ourselves a lot cheaper and a lot better.

Got to get going. Have a great weekend.


Hope This Helps!

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