We are a general contractor who built a custom house with cabinets and interior man doors made of VG fir. The cabinet doors and drawers were made from veneered panels purchased by the cabinet maker. The man doors were bought through a local door shop from a national supplier. The cabinets and man doors were stained to a medium dark brown using a Zar oil based stain and finished with MacLac fx-2009 (201 series) 275 Dead Flat Clear with U.V. Pre-Catalyzed Lacquer. The client was not happy with the stain color on first pass. The painter applied an additional coat of lacquer tinted with a small amount of stain and brought up the color to the satisfaction of the client. After 6 months the cabinet doors and drawer fronts are checking. We have verified it is the veneer that is checking and not the just the lacquer. The cracks are all vertical and with the grain and it has been looked at under a microscope. The man doors are now exhibiting minor checks also. No one - from the cabinet maker, to the painter, to the product manufacturers has any idea why this is happening. The man doors were finished off site and the cabinet door and drawers were finished on site. The house is near the ocean. What could be causing the veneers to check? We don't want the problem to reoccur as we replace failed product.
If I'm understanding, the cabinetmaker purchased the panels already laid up with the veneer and that the cabinetmaker did not apply the veneer to the substrate.
Rarely have I heard of professionally laid up veneers having a checking problem.
When the veneers actually de-laminate themselves from the substrate, its due to poor glue up ( contact cement ). A professionally applied veneer is not laid up using contact cement.
If the finish is the only thing that's failing and the veneers are stable, its possible that the finisher exceeded the mill thickness of the product.
No, it has been established that the veneer is checking, not the finish. I agree that it seems improbable that a manufactured veneer would fail, but that is what is happening, both with the cabinets and the interior man doors. We are trying to figure out why - common denominators are the finisher, the stain, and the lacquer.
Recently retired after 30+ years as a Finisher. The times I have seen failures like this is when the veneer layup was done with Contact Cement and not done properly.
The applied finish has exceeded its recommended mill thickness.
Drastic temperature changes between shop environment and final resting place.
Not accusing your builder.. but have you seen a paid receipt from the Company that laid up the veneer. Perhaps the builder did their own lay up and used Contact Cement.
Solvent borne coatings like MacLac can, perhaps, possibly,maybe,could react with a solvent borne Contact Cement. Professionally laid up veneers don't use a solvent borne glue as far as I know.
Can you strip off the coating on a small drawer front....then lay a rag soaked in Lacquer Thinner on the edge of the drawer to see if it lifts the veneer. If it does, its a solvent based glue and professionally veneered panels are not laid up with solvent based glues.
My guess is that the Mill thickness was exceeded and the finish is checking. But you say the veneer itself is checking and the stress of the veneer movement is now causing the coating to check. Hmmmmm, something is not adding up. Ask to see the proof that the panels were professionally laid up and that the Cabinetmaker didn't lay them up themselves with Contact Cement.
Glad to see you are understanding our frustration with this problem. I know that the veneers were purchased because we have sent the failure back to the supplier so they can help identify why it occurred. They have not given us an opinion as to the reason for the failure, but are willing to supply new veneers. But this means the cabinet maker and finisher are on the hook for the labor to make new door and drawer fronts and finish them. We don't want the problem to occur again so are trying to find a reason for the failure.
TM, still would be nice if you could post some photos.
Seems to me that if everything is failing on top of the checking veneer,and it is indeed found to be the reason for the failures, the veneer supplier should be responsible for covering the cost of Finishing and to also negotiate a labor cost for the Cabinet Maker to remake what needs remaking.
Having to re-do jobs for whatever reason, can certainly mess up the Cabinet Makers and Wood Finishers schedule so this disruption should be taken into consideration.
Every door in the house, or just ones that are subject to direct sunlight? I'm thinking about extreme moisture and temperature swings. Real dark color will absorb more heat. Lots of fog and moisture at night, extreme heat in the direct sunlight. Just thinking out loud.
I agree that the veneer manufacturers should pay for the refinishing, but I am not sure if this is common practice. Any thoughts. In response to the last posting, none of the product gets direct sun. House has very little temperature fluctuation. In a moderate temperature zone.
The veneer manufacturer should pay? Did they not dry it right? No way are they responsible unless someone has evidence the veneer was delivered too wet. The company that laid up the veneer will likely replace the goods, but they never pay for other labor. They have no control how the sheet goods were stored, or what manufacturing techniques were used, or how it was finished. I'd suggest that some errors occurred when no one measured moisture content in the trail of the veneer or the substrates.
From what I understand rich c, the result of everything that is failing is the result of the veneer lifting off the substrate.
If wetness had anything to do with it ( I seriously doubt it did ) then Cabinet Companies who use water based coatings would be getting veneer panels replaced faster than gossip travels through a Beauty Salon.
Case in point might be the Law suits filed against Firestone. They sold an inferior product that ultimately resulted in deaths and a shi# load of property damage.
Their Lawyers blamed it on over inflation, wrong tire for particular vehicle and a few other fantasy excuses etc....
I think its worth a shot for TM to initiate a proposal to be reimbursed for damage caused by an inferior product.
Robert, I was talking about the moisture content of the raw veneer. Not any moisture added latter. It's my contention the there is a shrinkage problem here somewhere, for the cracking to be going on. The veneer may have been wet from the mill, or improperly stored and it was wet just before the layup on the sheet goods.
thanks for the responses, but I need to reiterate why this is so mystifying. The problem is happening with two different products - the man doors and the cabinet doors - from two different manufacturers. The common elements are the stain (Zar oil based), Lacquer (MacLac),
and the painter who finished them. What possible chemical interaction between the stain, lacquer and veneered products could result in the checking? What application error could cause the failure? The problem took a couple of months to materialize. I thought veneer checking only occurred when the substrate moved more than the veneer, but it seems unlikely that this is occurring in all of the product that is failing. Can it be chemical? Where else can I look for answers?
Beddy beddy interesting to say the least.
Are you 100% sure.. and without a doubt.. that it is in fact the veneer itself that is lifting from the substrate ?
In an earlier posting I mentioned to strip the finish off of one of the smaller drawer fronts. Once you get down to raw VGF veneer, it will be easy to determine if the veneer is in fact lifting or if its a finishing issue.
You also mentioned that your painter applied a tone coat over the finish to darken it. Was the tone coat of Zar Oil Stain just mixed in the MacLac OR was the Zar added to a solvent like Acetone or Lacquer Thinner and....then fogged on to achieve the final color, and then top coated again with the MacLac ?
Generally speaking, a store bought oil stain may not be compatible with the Lacquer. The solvent in store bought stains usually have Paint Thinner and pigments for the actual color. Sometimes it results in gun-cotton, and would certainly cause a finishing issue.
If its JUST the finish that is checking, its entirely possible that the Zar Oil Stain was not completely dry ( 100 % dry!! ) prior to your painter applying the coatings.
Not much more to say TM until you post some detailed photos so we get a real idea on whats going on. Good Luck.
Many years ago I had a similar experience, the only differences being that the veneer was butternut, and that the condition occurred before any finish was applied.
There was much debate about what the cause might be, everything from moisture problems, improper glue application, lack of pressing pressure, and that the veneer had been cut with a dull knife.
The fact that you are having these problems with products from two different suppliers leads one to think that the problems are post-veneer application; but I would wonder if the two suppliers used the same veneer source.
At the time, I maintained that the veneer had been poorly cut due to a dull knife, and that the back face was not flat, that the checks created by a dull knife created tiny waves on the back of the veneer that did not glue flat when pressed. I believe these checks manifested themselves when the moisture increased, in my case because of shop humidity, in your case when finish was applied.
I'm sure someone with more veneer experience than I will chime in to say how bogus this belief is. Perhaps when they do, they will offer a more plausible hypothesis.
As opinions are exactly that, the real culprit was never determined, but everyone agreed on the solution, which was to sand the veneer flat, apply a glue size to the face, let it dry, sand and finish. It seemed to work, as there was no callback.
No, we have not personally stripped a door front. We did sent a door to both the lacquer and veneer manufacturers. The lacquer manufacturer stated that he examined the door under a microscope and could clearly see the veneer checking. The same door was sent to the veneer manufacturer and they did not render an opinion. They did, however, agree to supply new veneer.
If someone sent veneer to a door manufacturer, you need to be sure that they put the veneer on with a cross-band under it (so the grain is 90 degrees to the face). Check that. We do a lot of veneer work and that rule is absolute. Contractors & shops are always asking us to put a special veneer on a door blank, so maybe that happened. Also find out if the veneer was raw flitch stock or paper backed, which people believe they can use contact adhesive or a low pressure press. Checking most always results. We have high end door manufacturer we do specials for, they always buy hot pressed, cross banded 2-ply. Never had a problem. You should do an autopsy on a panel to see if it's cross-banded, what adhesive was used. I would also take a small panel, strip it and refinish it and see what happens.
Both types of doors are failing once on site, this would indicate that there is to much humidity in the house, or the difference in humidity from where they were manufactured to where they were installed in the house is to great. The other thing that was mentioned is sunlight, direct sunlight if there are lots of windows will cause colour change and checking. My guess is that this has nothing to do with the veneer, workmanship or finishing.
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