Finish to Suit the Job.
One question you should ask when doing your
material review is how up to date are you on the latest
finishing technology? Finishing chemistry is very dynamic these
days. There is a steady flow of improvements in the physical and
environmental properties of wood finishes.
There are several categories of finishing
products: oil finishes, acrylics, nitrocellulose lacquers,
precatalyzed and post catalyzed lacquers, conversion varnishes,
2 component polyurethanes, polyesters, epoxies and UV coatings.
The categories are determined by the types of resins, solvents
and catalysts that are in the finish. Many of these categories
contain several different product formulations including both
solvent based and water bornes.
Not only does each category of finish have
certain physical, chemical and performance characteristics but
each individual product may have been developed to further
exploit certain specific characteristics of that category...like
faster dry times or non-yellowing. Choosing the right product
for the job might mean a substantial savings in time or
materials. Work with your supplier to investigate what is out
there and what might be good for your application.
Unfortunately, one of the stumbling blocks
encountered with the changes in technology is getting the
finishers to accept them. Remember our statement earlier that
people by their nature are resistant to change.
Rule #3. Humans are creatures of habit. We
feel comfortable with what we know and mistrust things that are
new. We are resistant to change.
Finishers feel comfortable with their
palette of finishes and the way they work so they aren’t usually
excited to try something different. It
can be frustrating to see products that might make a persons job
either easier, healthier or of a better quality ignored in favor
The True Cost of Your Finish Material
All wood finishes start out as solid resins
or combinations of resins. They are melted down and reduced by
solvents so they can be sprayed onto the wood surface. Once
applied, the solvents evaporate and then you are simply left
with a thin hard film of solid resin, no solvents. The resin
content is specified by the manufacturer as The % of Solids by
Volume in the finish. What is not solids is solvent and solvents
add nothing to the coating that is left on the wood surface. The
greater the % Solids by Volume, the greater the resulting dry
film thickness that you get with each coat that you apply.
For post catalyzed products consider the
cost per gallon of the finish catalyzed. The cost of the
catalyst and the ratio that is added can really affect the
overall cost. Some catalysts also may reduce the viscosity and
the % Solids By Volume of the finished product.
Another consideration is that your greatest
cost is not your dollar per gallon but rather your dollar per
hour. A finish that has a higher Solids by Volume will require
fewer coats to reach the desired final film thickness. Fewer
coats means that not only do you reduce your spray and sanding
costs, but you reduce the overall time it takes to complete a
project, so you can ship it sooner. One final benefit of higher
solids materials is that you will also reduce your emissions
since there are less solvents gassing off with the higher solids
When you evaluate your finish system you
have to weigh cost versus value. You supplier should add value
to the products you purchase from them. They know their products
and should have the attitude that your success is their success.
They should be able to provide you with a wealth of resources
ranging from samples to technical support. If you have a problem
this should be the place you start. The good ones have
diagnostic tools that can help analyze your problems.
Besides providing products they should also
assistance – who should know their products better than
of services like environmental reporting and custom color
programs and training
You really do have to evaluate the material, the cost and the
supplier to determine your overall value.