Finish fumes that last forever

If a set of cabinets still smells of finish after a year, what could be the problem? October 2, 2001

After a year, a stained and lacquered set of cabinets still emits a noxious chemical odor. Is it possible that the stain was not allowed to dry properly before the topcoats were applied? Or the wrong mix of catalyst was used? Whenever we have this type of problem, the surface of the finish smudges easily, also.

Forum Responses
Over-catalyzation is the most common cause of this problem. The smudging also leads me to this conclusion. When they say 3% they don't mean 3 1/2% or 2 1/2%. They mean 3%. I usually used a graduated hypodermic syringe to measure my catalyst. It's that critical.

What brand was the finish? Sometimes the catalyst may be stronger than other times. We had this problem a few years ago and the manufacturer finally admitted the catalyst was off. To fix, go back and wash the cabinets down with a mix of water and ammonia. This is called "acid plume" and it will stop sooner or later. Sometimes, if you don't catalyze enough, you will just get the smell that will last for a while.

If you're able too leave an impression in your coating long after the recommended cure cycle, you're under-catalyzing, not over. It's also possible one of your applications is not compatible with the other.