Less toxic alternatives to CV

Searching for a durable and less toxic finish. July 22, 2003

Now that I have the CV experience under my belt I have to do some serious reflection. I have not put these CV finished pieces into circulation, so I don't yet know their finish performance under daily usage. However, I can say that I am not a fan of the actual spraying toxicity (though it sprays easily) or the post-spray curing health hazards. My previous finish was Crystallac.

Any suggestions as to a much less toxic spraying product than CVs that yield very high performance in toughness, water/chemical resistance, scratch resistance, and ease of interaction with a variety of staining/dye media? Preferably water base but I'm open to ideas. Fuhr seems to be popular around here.

I'm in Brooklyn, NY and a local dealer would be the best, but mail order could be workable.

I started out with waterborne and went against the grain to a solvent finish. I'm thinking the experiment was useful: unless I can accommodate the finishing process more safely, CVs will need to be reserved for sporadic applications. Under current shop conditions, I do not want to be spraying this frequently.

Forum Responses
I'm a fan of 2K urethanes with or without polyester grain filler (only needed on open grained woods). Since you're in NY, Seagraves Coatings is close to you and an excellent source for these products.

On the waterborne front, Fuhr's 355 is a good choice. Van Technologies is also highly regarded on the waterborne front. Ceramic Industrial Coatings in Minnesota has a Becker Systems product that's extremely good as well and General Finishes has their Pro Acrylic which I don't think is as good as a C-V with respect to chemical resistance and toughness but certainly can hang in there with pre-cat lacquer.

From contributor D:
I use the Van Tech finishes and find that they are excellent. I won't say they will outperform conversion varnishes, but I did test a maple door that I finished using Vantech 482 against a door from a major cabinet manufacturer using their 14-step-catalyzed-oven-baked-jiffy-pop finish and found that it did outperform that particular door with that particular finish.

The test was pretty basic and straightforward. I collected a variety of products that may harm the finish such as acetone, lacquer thinner, lime away, bleach and isopropanol. I laid the doors flat and poured 5 ml of each on the door in different spots, leaving each on there to air dry before adding the next one.

After it was all over, the factory door had a large soft spot from the lacquer thinner and a smaller one from the acetone. No effect from the other ones. The Vantech had a blush spot from the isopropyl and a slight blush from the acetone and no effect from the others.

After 24 hours the factory door was still gummy from the lacquer thinner and it left a permanent soft spot. Otherwise, it was good from all others. At the same time, the Vantech door had no visible effects from the chemicals. The blushing from the IPA was gone and looked as good as new.

I realize that this was a simple test and in no way demonstrates a real world experience. It only shows what it shows. But I did find it valuable in determining if the waterbornes had any resistance at all.

I would also try ICA 2k urethanes, and see if the local distributor has some of ICA's waters, as those are awesome.

Bob Niemeyer, forum technical advisor

From contributor J:
I have been using Fuhr 355 and have been pretty pleased with the product. I just finished a coffee table as a gift and have the perfect testing grounds for the finish - a house with twin 1-year old babies as well as two dogs. If this finish holds up for any extended period of time I will be sold on it for good. About two minutes after moving the table in, both babies were whacking it with their toys. All I could do was cringe and leave fast. Two weeks and finish is still holding up fine. I just installed a kitchen pantry cabinet with the Fuhr exterior pigmented finish in the same house... Stay tuned.

My question would be: How fast drying/fast production run are the waterbornes in a kitchen cabinet production type of situation? Aside from the above one off products - a coffee table, a door, etc. - what about many boxes and many doors? Is anyone using waterbornes in this situation other than factory type, finish line assemblies?

From contributor J:
I only have experience with water borne products, so I can't compare them to solvent based finishes. However, I have had good experiences spraying WB products. I have used ML Campbell's ultra-star and a few of the Fuhr's products now (I prefer the latter's products). I have done some large projects with 5 or more cases, doors, and shelves. I have found that per the manufacturer's suggestions, the finish is dry in 5-10 minutes, and can be sanded in 15-20. Occasionally a piece may take a little longer if I wound up applying too heavy a coat (never more than 25-30 minutes, though). I suppose the weather can have more of an impact on the WB products, but it effects all types of finishes unless you have your heaters and the like, right? On a large project, by the time I finish spraying a coat, I can just go to the first piece I finished and start sanding my way through the line. I do usually give a quick sand in between 2nd and 3rd coats as well with some 400. Might be unnecessary, I just feel more comfortable about it.

I am not a fan of finishing and am by no means an expert, but I am continually learning and have been able to achieve good results with the WB. I suspect those with more experience in finishing would spend even less time getting satisfactory results.

From contributor R:
I use Fuhr's 350 hv for use in the production of many boxes a day and am not a factory assembly line. I have a small three man operation and the waterbased products work well for me. I have used many waterborne products and have found that the Fuhr products give me what I am looking for in speed and fast drying. I have now added a curing system and can spray twelve pieces and give them 8 minutes flash and 16 minutes curing and then just about 5 minutes to cool and be ready to re-shoot or buff out the box top. All of the boxes we make are full fill finishes and are buffed out to a high gloss. The one thing I really like about the Fuhr 350 hv is it fills fast, and it is a thermal setting compound, which means that you can ship it on a freight line and not have to worry about it getting soft from the heat, like some of the other waterborne products do.

Contributor R, you mentioned a curing system. Is that an oven type setup where you put the products in and out in minutes/seconds? Cost around 10k? Forgot the name of this system, just wondering if it's the same as you are talking about.

From contributor R:
No, the unit I use is just about $500 and is portable. It is used mainly for auto paint, but it is the same for autos or waterbased product. You want to cure from the bottom up. This unit cures an area of about 30 in X 36 in at a time. I am currently trying to become a distributor for the system that I use to be able to sell them to my customers. Right now I only sell Fuhr's waterbased coatings and C.A. Technologies spray equipment.

From contributor D:
The WBs dry as fast as a lacquer unless you really spray them thick. I often spray right in the customers' houses when I do repair work and I always get complimented on how there is little or no odor after about 15 minutes and it really cuts down on the masking that I have to do.

If you want really fast dry times for production, then use the WB UV coatings.

From the original questioner:
A few follow-ups...

Vantech 482 and Fuhr 355: Can these be used over a vinyl sealer (ex. MLC Water White Sealer) without compatibility issues?

If used topcoated over surfaces that present possible contamination (oils, waxes, et al), will they underperform or fail? Will a vinyl sealer work? If not, what would work as a sealer?

Out of the can tint: are these amber, and if so, how much, say, compared to Duravar? Are any of these products available water white or only amber tinted?

Contributor R, can you give additional info on the Fuhr's 350 hv? I'm not able to find anything relating to the product. Is this better for non-sag vertical surfaces? When you say it is thermal setting, does it demand the addition of an external heat source to harden it?

From contributor D:
Vantech 482 can be used as a self sealer or used as a topcoat over their 240 sealer. In my opinion, 2 coats of sealer and one coat of 482 gives a very good build and a smooth finish. It has an amberish tint to it (240 doesn't). I think the 485 is a water white.

482 can be applied at something like 10 mils vertical with no sag.

You should try Target Coatings products. They're right next to Giant Stadium, and Jeff's a super guy. He'll come on site and make sure you're getting what you want. His line is mostly waterbase (PSL is the best waterbase lacquer I've used), but he's also got an Emtech line that's safe and durable.