Black Waterborne Finishes

How to get excellent results with black waterborne lacquer. November 15, 2010

I have been hurled into the world of black lacquer. In the 10 years my cabinet shop has been finishing its own cabinets, I never had requests for it, and now I have three in a row. I have been spraying General Finishes black acrylic and undercoat. I have been really impressed by the quality of the product. The undercoat dries quickly, and the topcoat becomes very hard with a great feel. The first project I sprayed was a single cabinet and it went pretty well. I am currently working on a pair of large euro style bathrooms (vanities and linens) and I am starting to feel really out of my league.

I do not have a booth, just a 16x24 room with a fan in the window and a 4000 CFM recirculating air filter that originally came out of a hospital. I am spraying the undercoat with my airless and the topcoat with my Asturo Eco ssp hooked to a 2.5 gallon pressure pot (tank 15 psi, air 22 psi triggered, 1.3 mm needle/nozzle set), because the acrylic topcoat was micro-bubbling with the airless. My room is separated from the main shop by a pair of large swinging doors. I have been spraying the topcoat during odd hours to try to cut down on dust issues.

I can't get the topcoat to come out as nice as I would like. The coat lies out well for the most part, but I feel like my gun is struggling to atomize the product. And when I do get the gun working well, it never fails that I end up with some sort of crud in the finish (dust specks, paint specks, an eyelash, etc.).

The end result is typically good, minus the random dust specks and occasional ripple when you hold the finish up to a raking light. But I am used to putting out finishes that look pretty darn awesome and I am struggling to achieve that here. Anyone have a good recipe for success with waterbased black lacquer/acrylic?

My current schedule is as follows:
1. One strong coat of undercoat
2. Sand flat with Klingspor 240 sc using a Dynabrade 1/3 sander, vacuum parts, then wipe down with 50/50 alcohol and water
3. One coat black acrylic
4. Sand flat with Klingspor 400 sc using Dynabrade sander, vacuum parts, wipe down
5. Topcoat black acrylic

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)

From contributor G:
One trick is to make the final coat a clear instead of black.

From contributor R:
Yes, get your black nice and smooth, and apply a couple of clear coats on top of it. It will turn out marvelous. I suppose a rag with water and alcohol is swell, but try a tack rag - no static buildup and no lint in a tack rag.

From the original questioner:
I would have gone the clear route, but my customer has requested a pigmented topcoat. For some reason she has it in her head that the clear coat will make it more difficult to do future repairs. I guess she plans on beating the hell out of these cabinets.

As for the tack rags, I was unaware that you could use these with waterbased products. I have seen on the General Finishes web site that they make a waterbased compatible tack rag, but I do not know where I can get them locally. After I suit up, I blow myself off before I enter the paint room, but it never fails that something lands in the finish.

From contributor J:
You may want to consider a larger needle set. I was spraying EM2000 and Valspar CV with a 1.5 and was unhappy with the way it was laying out and switched to a 1.7 and I much prefer the results.

From contributor W:
I shoot clear 9000sc over Target 6600 black and get a very nice finish. Two coats of base, fine sand 400 grit to remove defect, then two topcoats to adjust the sheen - done.

From contributor R:
Misting down the spray area can really help in keeping the dust at bay. Another good reason to have one of those pump sprayers at hand. A teeny bit of black mixed in the clear top coating really is considered a pigmented coating.

From contributor O:
Some good suggestions above are the bigger needle, the clear coat and adding a little black to the clear to classify it as pigmented.

From contributor S:
I would use the clear topcoat, but add a little black to it, as this will improve the depth of colour. Colourless waterborne over deep colours can look a bit hazy or plastic-looking. Adding a few percent of the coloured product to the clear helps this no end.