Adding Glaze to Factory Cabinets

      Recommendations for glazing stock cabinet doors in a way that will be compatible with the existing factory finish. April 24, 2014

I was asked to add more glaze to all the doors and drawers on a kitchen that I'm installing. The finish is paint (solvent based) with a cocoa glaze. The homeowners are not happy with the amount of glaze that was applied.

I first looked at it today and the glaze is very light and thin. It looks more like dirt. We can get the glaze and top coat from the manufacturer. The top coat is a DURAKRAFT (Kraftmaid cabinet). They claim that after they apply their topcoat they bake it. Some kind of drying/curing process.

Will I have a hard time applying more glaze to the doors and drawers? What should I do to prep the surface? If I am doing this job I will do a sample on a small drawer front first before anything.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor M:
Glaze is almost supposed to look like dirt. Granted, it's not supposed to look overly dirty, but rather aged with a patina. Glaze is one of those things that the customers always want to nitpick.

If you (or your finish guy) don't have experience doing a glaze job, expect for it to be a time consuming learning curve. It's not intuitive sometimes. Usually, the problem with most of our oil-based glazes is that you have a hard time getting enough of it off of the finish. It often bites very hard into the finish and leaves a heavy residue. It could look like smoke damage.

I would imagine Kraft-made is using something like a pre-cat, which also tends to make the hard-bite even worse.

I would suggest you glaze the back of some of the doors to start with. You can probably wash off much of the glaze with mineral spirits after you've tested it. That way, when you do the front, you have a good plan of attack for getting the faces done right.

I suggest the following schedule:
1) Extremely gentle scuff sand (barely adequate scuff) using a maroon scotch-brite pad (ultra fine - get the finest you can find). Scuff in the direction of the wood grain.
2) Use an oil-based glaze, and experiment by thinning it with mineral spirits if it bites too hard. Avoid excessive airflow around the wet glaze - in the summer, it dries so fast it's hard to work with.
3) Wipe off and allow to dry for a couple hours (follow supplier's suggestions).
4) 1 coat vinyl sealer for the best possible adhesion of the final clear.
5) 1 coat of clear topcoat (whatever Kraft Maid uses - nitro, pre-cat, etc).

If they use a waterborne finish, I'm no help to you, I wouldn't know how to glaze a waterborne finish.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the advice. I also agree that glaze is supposed to give you that dirty effect, but when I looked at those doors from 2'-3' away, I could not see any glazing at all. You have to get up very close to see it. Customers are paying extra for that look! And that's what they want to see! The glaze will be coming from Kraftmaid. I will try your schedule and see how it works out.

From contributor J:
Easy fix and this is what I would do! Find a distributer for ML Campbell finishes. They have a product called Amazing Glaze 1 and 3, 1 being for conversion varnish. Try to verify that the finish is CV from Kraftmaid and try to buy the clear from them. Being a factory cabinet, you probably could get away with one more coat before we exceed the mil thickness. Scuff sand anything that will be cleared, then spray the Amazing Glaze onto the doors. With this glaze, use a scotchbrite pad to scrub your desired effect. One coat of a cv and you're done. If you're able to find a knowledgeable ML finish rep he will explain these steps in greater detail. Just a few weeks ago I had to do the same thing but with lacquer! The tint specialists will tint the glaze to whatever color you need.

From contributor D:
I agree on the Amazing Glaze. That is precisely what I was going to suggest.

From contributor I:
I use a Mohawk product called Breakaway Glaze. Same product as ML Campbell Amazing Glaze. Scuff sand, spray the breakaway glaze with light pressure, let dry (minutes) then maroon scotchbrite, then topcoat. Try sample on back of drawer fronts first.

From contributor B:
Kraftmaid uses conversion varnish. Their baking process is a set of ovens that force dry the coating so they can speed up production (not a big deal, most do this). Trying to glaze over a cured finish, then applying more conversion varnish, may result in poor adhesion and your finish peeling or chipping off. Conversion varnish doesn't rewet like lacquer does. Conversion varnish crosslinks resin to form a film, unlike nitrocellulose or CAB that only dry by solvent evaporation. Pre-cat (at least some pre-cats) dry both ways.

I would scuff the back of a door with 320 or 380, glaze and then apply a thinned down (like 5 to 1) version of whatever you plan to use so you create a base that bites through the glaze and has a better chance of adhering to the coating beneath. Spray a couple of light coats (under 2 mils wet) 15-30 minutes apart (let it dry long enough to get the majority of solvent out of the film) then apply a regular coat. Let this dry 1-2 hours max then scuff with 320 and apply a regular coat. Let this dry overnight and check adhesion.

You are probably not going to have good adhesion, but better to find out now, on the back of a door, than to get a call 3-4 months down the road on the entire set.

Waterborne over glaze may be a better choice since those resins have excellent adhesion qualities, so if you can, do both and see which performs better.

From contributor W:
You mentioned that waterborne might have better adhesion over CV. Do you use a catalyzed waterborne? New color and top coat over old cured color and top coat. You needs a bulletproof adhesion to avoid a call back. I'm not sure what that best process would be.

From contributor B:
Yes, I've used catalyzed waterborne. Some guys call them waterborne conversion varnishes, but they are really self-crosslinking that you can add a hardener to for higher performance applications.

I think any good quality waterborne (nothing from Minwax) should have decent adhesion. General, Target, Gemini, MLC, all make good stuff. Waterbornes (at least the ones I've used) really grab on when I can't get a solvent base to stick, like fiberglass doors. The only real downside is they can't be applied at the same wet mil thickness as solvent, the resin system isn't as clear and multiple coats makes the overall appearance cloudy.

I also think that if he goes ahead with this job, he needs to make sure the homeowner understands that he's trying to finish over a cured finish, and there are no guarantees when it comes to this. Frankly, if the homeowner wanted more glaze they should have picked a different style from Kraftmaid.

From contributor T:
The Amazing Glaze, and similar breakaway glazes, are really good products, but in the end they have a different look (more or less) than the wipe-on glazes. You'll need to do a test to see if it results in the look you are looking for.

From the original questioner:
Thank you. I was told that the sale rep will be looking at the job next week. Maybe I won't have to do anything with that job. The biggest problem is that if I do anything to the finish, it will void the warranty and that is a big issue with the homeowner. We have a ML Campbell distributor very near us and the finish tech is pretty good. I will have a talk with him regarding the Amazing Glaze just in case I end up doing the job.

From contributor R:
My hats off to you for thinking through the job prior to jumping into it full steam. I would get the basic conversation you have with the rep and the customer put down in writing so there is no misunderstanding.

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