finish on kitchen cabinets

We moved into our house about 2 months ago, it was a 2 year nightmare renovation. We went all out in pretty much every room, but especially the kitchen. Last week I was talking to our custom cabinet guy who had come to adjust a sliding door and he mentioned on the way out to keep water off the cabinets because it takes the finish off. At the time I thought it was odd, but didn't say anything to him. Then the next day I noticed that indeed the finish was gone in streaks (about 1/4" in places) at the bottom of the doors to the cabinets that were near the two sinks (one is a a prep sink). When I talked to him today he said that there is no finish that is water resistant and that this is bound to happen if we don't keep an eye on it. The problem of course is that you can never keep the water totally off the cabinets, not to mention that these are vertical surfaces, I guess you could make the argument that standing water on the top of a counter is eventually going to leave a stain or remove the finish. What I'm seeing is that water drips down the face of the cabinet then pearls when it gets to the bottom edge where it hangs. I want to know if what he is telling me and what I am seeing should be expected? Remember we've only been in this house for about 2 months and you can already see the finish starting to go and what really frightens me is that we've got the same cabinets with the same finish in all of the bathrooms where there is even more water around.
Thanks.
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clipped

A custom cabinet guy, 'eh? The finish didn't get washed off, it was never applied to the bottom of the door. Someone started a rumor that the tops and bottoms of doors should not be finished, so condensation runs down, collects at bottom, and wicks into unfinished wood on bottom. Check out your bathroom door, or the neighbor's.
Poly, paint or varnish are great finishes when they cover the wood. One coat often does not, and standing moisture will seep into minute openings on the woodgrain. Latex is my least favorite, especially in a kitchen. Most varnish will seep into wood grain on the first coat, leaving minute gaps in the finish that allow moisture to intrude. Read up on finishes, materials and workmanship before you contract for multi-thousand dollar work. Talk to different contractor and don't let one drive a nail without a written bid, license, insurance, and lien release agreement.
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Thanks so much for your reply. These are solid maple cabinets with maple veneers. I just went around and checked the tops and bottoms of the doors and it's hard to tell whether or not the edges were finished or not. When I wipe my hand across the front of the cabinets it's very smooth, when i run it across the top, side or bottom edges it's definetly go a surface to it. I wouldn't call it, rough, but it's not as silky smooth either. Right now I'm just trying to get informed so I can talk to the cabinet guy. Whenever I get him on the phone now, he pretty much just tells me this is the way it is, blah, blah, blah. I think we have to get someone else up here to look at the cabinets and tell us what he thinks happened and what it will cost to fix. My fear is that I'm going to have real problems with all the cabinets in a year. Have you ever heard of someone coating with clear car coat? if you have what does it do to the color of the wood? I heard it's expensive, but virtually indestructible.
thanks again
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leon spinks wrote:

I have never seen a finish that was totally water proof nor one that was not water resistant. For normal kitchen and bath use, you don't need to worry about any finish I have ever seen have a problem with water resistance. There are good and bad finishes. Some wear better than others. The real problem is usually wear from people opening and closing the doors. More than water the oils from your hands are more of a problem. Forget what that guy said.
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Joseph Meehan

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You have a cheap finish and if a bit of water affects it now the oils from your hands will ruin it as well. Ive never seen dripping water affect a quality finish unless it is not cured which depending on type of finish can take a month or so. I have seen a cheap Tiawan finish cabinet fail, it was just a bad product used. If the cabinet guy finished them find out the product used and talk to the company that made it. Ive seen alot of kitchens, what you describe does not happen with quality finishes even after 20 yrs. Get a few people out that know finishes, they probably need to be sprayed-recoated before damage requires stripping and refinishing. I hope you have not paid in full yet.
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