Finishing Forum -- Comparing Pre-Catalyzed and Conversion Varnishes

Pros and cons of pre-cat versus CV, in a nutshell. January 13, 2006

What is the difference between CV and pre-cat? Are there different applications, i.e. use only pre-cat for vertical surfaces and CV for horizontal surfaces?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
The differences between pre-cat and CV are quite a few. Pre-cat comes ready mixed for you, CV needs to be catalyzed. Pre-cat has basically no pot life, most CV have a short pot life (8-24 hours). Pre-cat is generally easier to spray, and it has a lower solid content. CV is more difficult to spray, but you need fewer coats to do the same job. Pre-cat is rated TR 2-4 while CV is rated TR6, which is a hardness/chemical resistance test. CV will cure more in the first few hours than pre-cat will; meaning it will be ready to ship/stack faster. CV is much more durable than pre-cat. The pains that you endure with CV are usually worth the gains you get in toughness and abrasion resistance. I generally use pre-cat because it is much more forgiving while spraying than CV is. For wooden countertops, I only use CV. For cabinet exterior/interior, I use pre-cat.

Cost is also a difference to consider. On a CV, you have some specific proportions to mix up, which limits the small spraying sessions. Then dump what is left in the gun. We were spraying everything with an Italian CV... On the plus side, I can say it is tougher than anything. In years, we have never had a finish claim/callback. Kitchens, baths, heavy traffic commercial (reception stations, desks, tradeshow) all held up topnotch. But between the higher cost of the CV and how much we were literally dumping down the drain, our finishing costs were about $3000 over what they should have been per year. You need to determine what needs the "Cadillac" of finishes, or what variety of finishes you want to spray and inventory (pre-cat, CV, and/or WB products), skill of your finisher, as well as additional gun cleanup with the CV.