Finish for Kitchen Cabinets


Hello,
I'm looking for some advice on finishing maple kitchen cabinets. There will be no stain applied to the material -- just a clear finish is what I'm looking for.
In the past, I've sprayed on poly, brushed it, wiped it on, brushed on shellac and varnish. I've also hand rubbed a finish using pumice and rottenstone on a curved staircase I built. The hand-rubbed finish was by far the most beautiful, but, of course, the most labor intensive. I'm not sure I want to go through that again any time soon, especially on a bunch of cabinet doors with lots of little crevices and bead details.
I don't care for brush marks and the reason I haven't spray finished in a while is that I got tired of dealing with the runs and drips. I do like the uniform spray look when everything works out, however. I've been relatively happy with the results of the wipe-on poly given the simplicity of its application and dry time. It seems to level out pretty well before it dries, but I feel I could do better.
When my father used to remodel kitchens for a living years ago, he said many cabinets were finished with lacquer. Is that still the case today? I guess I'm looking for a combination of simplicity, durability and beauty if that's achievable. If I can't find simple, I'm willing to go through the work to get the other two.
Would love to hear your opinions...Links to sites you know or just your own knowledge/experience would be great.
tia
-m
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Mike Pio wrote:

look into:
Conversion Varnish Catalyzed Laquer Water borne finishes with Crosslinker (such as Enduro coatings)
and there's always polyurethane...
Dave
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<snip>
Or wiping varnish. I just did a bathroom vanity and closet system in McCloskey's, thinned about 30% with VMP naptha.
Patriarch, who hates spraying if it can be avoided...
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I guess it's dependant on the luster of the finish that you desire. As natural even wax would work, but the Wipe on poly is best for advancing to a later step. Meaning you can always spray over the wipe on for greater shine and a little more depth.

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Mike Pio said:

Sprayed finishes are nice, but take a bit of practice to master - along with suitable equipment and work area. I've got a gun, but don't use it often due to the smell and over spray.
Poly looks terrible brushed, and tends to get trapped air pockets when a foam brush is used. Diluted poly and a wiping rag, by far, give the hardest, best looking finish - and it's pretty tough stuff. Good water resistance.
Lacquer, I use on shop jigs and such. Dries really fast, and it's got the fumes to prove it. And it, too, seems to prefer being sprayed. It doesn't seem to me to be quite as good at water resistance.
Also, kudos on the non-stained maple. I never have understood why anyone would build something out of maple, and then slather it with a dark artificial colored stain - unless it had REALLY offensive grain.
FWIW,
Greg G.
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wrote:

laquer sounds like a good choice for you. sprayed in thin coats with a quality spray gun you can avoid runs and the coats will burn in to each other.
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"Mike Pio" wrote in message

own
Sprayed lacquer on the vertical components of kitchen cabinets is pretty much an 'industry standard' .... it looks good and is durable in a high traffic area.
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i have to suggest water-based lacquer, specifically from Target Coatings. the USL product is superb. if you have the ability to spray, get some emtech vinyl sealer (also water based), throw down a coat of that, and then multiple coats of USL. the stuff sprays like a dream, looks great, and is *hard*.
good luck.
---- dz
Mike Pio wrote:

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On Thu, 3 Nov 2005 21:00:44 -0700, with neither quill nor qualm, "Mike

Wipe on 4 or 5 coats of Waterlox, Mike. It's quick, simple, and repairs easily. The varnish and tung oil in it will give you all the moisture resistance you need, and both are tough enough to be wiped clean daily (if your SWMBO should be so inclined.)
I had used several very thin brushed coats of Varathane on my first cabinet remodel several decades ago and it turned out way overkill. That was the last time I used poly.
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Larry Jaques wrote:

You'd apply Waterlox to a submarine. There are other finishes that are appropriate to the OP's needs.
Dave
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