Post catalyzed lacquer -- the best?

      Finishers discuss their favorite brands of post-catalyzed lacquer. August 23, 2000

I build high-end custom cabinets (kitchen and bath) but outsource to a very reliable finish shop. I want the best post-catalyzed lacquer top coating possible to add as one more selling point on my product.

I am no finish expert, and would like the opinions of the guys who have the hands-on experience. What do you recommend as the top five manufacturers of this type of finish?

I like Duravar, which is an M.L. Campbell product. This is an amber- colored product which should be used with stained pieces. If you're coating a light or white-colored piece, use Krystal, also an M.L. Campbell product.

Both use the same catalyst and same lacquer thinner for reducer, and are user friendly. Another good product is called Plasti-Kote by ChemCraft (I think); it's the old Sadolin company, out of North Carolina. You may have a distributor in your area. It's water clear as well.

Len Mar has some good products. Sherwin Williams also but is a BIG hassle for me to get service and products, so I don't bother. ICA has good products. I understand Lilly does also, but I haven't used any since there is not a distributor close to me.

I would like to recommend certain products, but find that the ball of wax changes so much when we are talking about nitrocellulose lacquer as compared to catalyzed coatings.

Each coating from each supplier has differing properties from other coatings. Some suppliers are easier to deal with than others.

I think the key to selecting a catalyzed coating hinges on two things:

1. Your supplier. How are they to do business with? How good are they at giving you tech support and helping you to get dug out of a hole. How good are they at working with you to develop finish schedules that look good and hold up?

2. Your operator. Does he/she have the necessary talents, skills, techniques -- even a sense of artistic balance? It is he who should be working to always improve and develop his hand-eye coordination so that you get the most out of the way that these finishes go on and how they look upon completion.

Once you decide to advance from nitrocellulose lacquer to a catalyzed coating, the world of finishing becomes more complex. Some of these coatings are very temperamental, and each coating behaves differently according to how the manufacturer formulates that coating.

Many shops elect to work with finish suppliers who custom-formulate the catalyzed coatings. The formulations are done in such ways that they meet the specific needs of the shop or factory. They could be formulated because of certain temperature or climate conditions, a certain open time that the finish room needs, a certain finish schedule with glazes, a certain recoat window or potlife, etc.

You may already be familiar with some names (in NO particular order) such as Guardsman, Valspar, Akzo Nobel, Chemcraft, Sherwin-Williams, M.L. Campbell, Star, Mohawk, ICA, Ilval Palimeri, and so on.

But there are suppliers that are not so well-known as those big players who will custom-make these coatings and/or have product offerings already formulated and ready for selling, like Chemical Coatings, Inc. (CCI), Westfield Coatings, The Coatings Development Group, Gemini Coatings, and so on.

Summing up, those two essentials are your supplier and your finish operator. Those two matter more than suggesting a specific product, which may work peachy keen for my needs, but your needs may be different, making those products not the ideal products for you. It is just not as easy as picking a conventional lacquer to coat your goods.

Thanks, you guys, for the info. I failed to mention that we have been using a Sadolin post cat #315135 I believe, so your information helped me confirm that we are already using a good product.

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