Pre-Cat Lacquer Basics
Sand your first coat with 320, easy on sharp corners. Sand your second coat with 400. Third coat will be your final.
First, you need to white sand no more than 180. I would suggest 150 before applying your stain. If you sand above 180, you will be increasing your chances for bad adhesion and you'll be wiping your stain clean. Second, apply your first coat 3 to 4 wet mils, dry as recommended by your supplier and sealer sand with 220. Blow and/or wipe the excess dust off and apply your second coat 4-6 wet mils. Let dry as needed and touch sand spots if needed with 320. Apply your final coat the same as the second. Do not use any store bought products for cleaning or polishing. If you need to clean the surface, use one from an auto supply store. As for repairing, I would suggest a thorough sanding of the entire surface and applying a thinned coat of topcoat.
From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
Always ask for the technical data sheet and material safety data sheet (MSDS) when you buy new products. The tech sheet for the stain should tell you what grit to sand to and the dry time needed before applying the topcoats.
150 grit is a good general use sandpaper before applying a wiping stain. Some brands recommend 120 grit for their wiping stain. Some stains are ready to be topcoated in under an hour and some take a lot longer; check the directions or data sheet.
If you're not going to use a vinyl or sanding sealer over the stain, you may want to thin the first coat of finish by 20% or so to promote it sealing the pores. Once dry, sand very lightly to smooth, and spray the next coat. Scuff sand the 2nd coat as needed and spray the 3rd. You should be done.
A lot of pre-cat lacquers have a maximum dry film thickness. Usually, 3 regular coats will get you there, so you don't want to spray too many. If you spray too heavily, you will get sags/runs.
As a longtime user of Mohawk products, I will tell you that Dura coat is very user friendly and can easily be repaired. There is really no need for more than one seal coat and two top coats, sanding between each coat. If you are using Mohawk stains or dyes and you wait more than 20 minutes before you finish over them, you are just killing time. The 24 hour stuff is for those who still choose to use the crap from the Depot. Dura coat has very high solids and still flows out very well. You can cut it 10% to speed up drying about 15-20 minutes before sanding.
I'm spraying my second project with Dura-coat right now - I just came in from the shop to take a break. I really like the stuff. The first time I used it was also the first time I had sprayed a finish and it came out great. If you're using the Mohawk dye stain, you can begin finishing it almost immediately. I use their sealers before the first coat of lacquer (the vinyl sealer seemed to build a little better - they were out of it this time, so I'm using the regular sealer). Also, it is pretty easy to repair and I haven't had many problems with runs. Just take your time and I think you'll be happy with it, too.
The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).
Comment from contributor J:
I use a kit from micromesh to sand my final coat of lacquer to a mirror finish. Itís a kit that has 1500 grit all the way up to 12,000 grit, and it works wonders. As for the sanding, I would go ahead and knock the orange peel off with 320 grit, then spray your second coat. The solvents in the second coat of lacquer will liquefy the coat beneath it, which is why you can't put 5 or 6 coats of lacquer on. You don't have to go crazy with the sanding, just enough to get the first coat flat.
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