Help! - Newbie in way over his head

Page 1 of 2  

Hello to the group! Forgive my lack of knowledge on the subject, but I am still very much learning. Please excuse the length of this post, the question is in the last paragraph. I am detailing the process I went through very because I don't know quite where I screwed up.
Recently, I finished a wood project (3/4" birch ply) which had come to the finishing stage. I wanted to give it a gloss black finish. The folks at the Home Depot, in their infinite wisdom, recommended Rustoleum High Gloss Lacquer.
I prepped the surface with over 10 hours of sanding. I tried to get rid of the fuzz with 150 grit paper per the instructions of the Home Depot guy. Unable to do so, I made my first mistake, I used Elmer's wood filler to fill the grain of the birch. This is a heavy putty used for filling holes, but in my ignorance, I used it as grain filler. The first coat I spread thin, but ended up completely sanding off trying to get a uniformly smooth surface. Then I slathered on 1/4" second coat of filler all around the cabinet. It took me 4 hours to sand it back to semi-flatness with 150 grit. I did another touch up third filler coat, thiis time with heavily water-thinned wood filler. I went up to 220 grit and got a surface that was very smooth and uniform to the touch. I tacked it clean with a damp rag to get rid of all the debris. I was ready for outstanding results!!
I used 2 cans of Rustoleum sandable primer, and 2 cans of Rostoleum high gloss lacquer, in aresol spray. I went into the back yard, set up a makeshift spray booth with tarp, and hung the project in midair for spraying. The primer coats looked GREAT! I laid 3 coats down. I also had some very slight surface imperfections that the 3rd coat of primer helped swamp. I did not sand my primer coats because they looked great.
Aafter letting the primer dry for about 45 minutes, I broke out the lacquer. I layed a very thin coat holding the spray can about 12" from the cabinet. The finish looked very uneven - I thought subsequent coats would take care of it. I layed down 2 more light coats, moving the spray can in short 6" strokes: psst, psst, psst, psst, trying to get the entire surface coated.
After I finished using all 2 cans, the finish was VERY glossy in certain areas, and almost flat black in others. Moreover, the surface has this fine black dust all over it and the flat areas feel very rough (like 150 grit sandpaper) to the touch. I have never used a nitrocellulose lacquer before and am not sure if this is how it is supposed to feel before buffing and cutting. I am deathly afraid I have ruined a weeks worth of HARD work and am uncertain how to proceed. Please advise this panicked newbie. Thanks in advance!!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Sounds like overspray. You don't spray finish coats in 6" swipes, you have to do it very smoothly back and forth, with each pass overlapping the previous pass just a little. Make sure the can is the right distance from the workpiece (6"-12" is what they've usually got on the can) and work fairly quickly. If the paint dries and you've got little splatters from the next pass floating onto it, it ends up feeling rough and looking flat. It takes a fair amount of practice to get right- you may have to sand with 220, and try it again. When you get it right, it'll look even and smooth.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
It's possible that a coat or two of good (i.e. not house brand) clear gloss polyurethane might uniformly gloss over both the shiny and non-shiny areas and leave you with the finish you want. TRY A TEST PIECE/AREA FIRST!
FoggyTown
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I was under the impression that polyurethane was not compatable with a lacquer finish?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
dewaxed shellac as a barrier coat??
Dave
kawai wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
kawai wrote:

You can put poly over lacquer but not vice versa. Not what you want to do though.
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.06... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In addition to the other advice, the automotive painters use the primer coats to smooth the surface. They spray a coat and sand add another coat and sand. This process gives a smooth surface with out imperfections. Keep that in mind if you surface does not look as smooth as it should.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
kawai wrote:

Getting a flawless, glossy surface - especially a black one - is a hard thing to do. You should have sanded your primer too...it is flat and imperfections won't show.
The "grit" is overspray that semi-dried before landing. You aren't spraying evenly and/or heavily enough. The goal in spraying is to lay down a uniform, *wet* layer. You didn't mention the dimensions of your project but it is hard to spray anything other than small things with aerosol cans.
If the project is of any size, you might be better off with one of the cheapo airless sprayers (I have seen them advertised for as low as $12 recently). They sure aren't great but IMO they *will* spit out a better spray volume than aerosol cans. Save a bundle on the lacquer too.
Once you get a uniform, wet layer and it drys it is likely that it won't be good enough...you will have gotten some areas thicker, the grain may still show, there will be dust nibs, etc. What you do then is wet sand it with #400 (finer on the last coat) until it is flat again. Then spray, wet sand, spray, wet sand until you are satisfied you have a flat surface that is also uniformally black with zero imperfections including sanding marks. Then spray a final "shine" coat. As an alternative to the shine coat, you could rub out the last sanded coat with ever finer abrasives...auto rubbing compound, rottenstone, etc.
BTW, it takes a *lot* longer for lacquer to dry than you think...several days. If the surface has an odor it isn't dry. If you sand too soon parts will be bone dry, others won't. Even if you sand perfectly the not quite dry areas will continue to dry (shrinking in the process) and you will have low areas.
You did a lot of unnecessary work on your birch. Birch is fine and close grained and really doesn't need any filler other than in surface imperfections. Multiple coats of your topcoat will ultimately cover any "grain" telegraphing through. You could start with a perfect surface for the lacquer on most any wood by using auto primer. A lacquer based one. It has a lot of talc in it and sands very easily when dry. The goal is to wind up with a smooth, flawless coat - a thin one, almost transparent - as the base for the top coats. Saves a lot of top coat sanding.
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.06... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:
Thank you all for your insightful responses. It does seem like overspray due to lack of experience on my part.

The project is a speaker-type cabinet of outer dimensions 16" x 14" x 30".

Do you think this size warrants an airless sprayer? Also, I don't think Rustoleum makes this lacquer in anything other than aeresol cans. If I use another nitrocellulose based lacquer, will I have an adverse reaction?

Thank you, this is very informative. I have heard people giving differing advice about what sandpaper grits I should use to fix my current finish. Advice has varied from 150# to 400# - what would be best to start with?

Yes. Again, I chose the lacquer based on advice from the home depot. Were I to do it again, I would probably roll on latex with a urethane topcoat! I have resigned to the fact that my finish is probably not going to look glass smooth.

The understatement of the year :). I went that route because I was trying to get rid of all the grain structure in the wood. Sandpaper kept lifting "fuzz" from the surface. Live and learn ...

GREAT advice for next time!
As for fixing my current mess, this is what I am planning on doing. Please advise if you would modify this procedure to achieve a better result:
1) Wait 2 days for lacquer topcoat to somewhat dry. 2) Sand surface with #320 sandpaper to see if it can be leveled. If it is taking a LONG time or ineffective in leveling, up the grit one grade coarser and try again. 3) Shoot a couple of practice panels with a cheap spray paint to get my technique down. 4) Shoot the cabinet with another 2 wet layers of lacquer.
Questions:
1) Is it possible to use a lacquer thinner on my current surface to "melt" the overspray into a flat top layer?
2) Can I mix different brands of lacquer with a Rusto High Gloss undercoat?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
dadiOH gave all good advice.
Once you have lacquer down don't go lower than 220 on the grit. Actually 320 is probably a better start. You can shoot any lacquer over existing lacquer. Airless is not appropriate for lacquer. You can proceed with spray cans for a project this small. It's a bit harder to get enough paint to lay down but the gear to do it otherwise is expensive.
Don't spray when its too hot. 70 degrees is optimal. Since you're using canned spray you can't add additives to slow the dry and in hot situations lacquer will dry before it hits, ie feels like sand paper and looks hazy.
Sand (lightly) after every coat. I know dadi said wait long but I usually sand in an hour.
Finally, spray high gloss clear over the finished piece and polish it using auto polish.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
SonomaProducts.com wrote:

It is if you have a lot to do and that's all you have :)
Did all my kitchen cabinet doors - a bunch - with one.
--
dadiOH
____________________________
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

What kind of gloss? Is this going to be necessary even for a satin finish? I think a high gloss is pretty much out of the question for me now.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
kawai wrote:

No, you could spray that with aerosol cans. ________________

Lacquer is pretty much lacquer. _______________

Depends on how bad it is and how much more you are going to spray. I'd probably start with #240. BTW, the fine sanding sponges work well for this sort of thing too...they conform a bit and don't dig in. ________________________

Oh, gawd no! Don't *EVER* do that.
Latex is fine for cement, drywall, exterior trim and the like but don't put it on anything where you want a good finish...it won't self level and it is impossible to sand.
If you didn't want to use lacquer the proper alternative would have been an oil paint, either alkyd or poly. My personal preference is alkyd because it generally "flows" better; that is quite variable, though, depending on the brand.
If you have a big project and really need to roll, roll on the oil paint with a fine roller over maybe 10-12 sq.ft. and then keep tipping it off with a high quality bristle brush to even up and edge blend until the brush starts to drag a bit. Used to paint my 42' ketch (sailboat) that way. Paint needs to be right - maybe some retarder/thinner/penetrol - depends on the brand. _______________________
I have resigned to the fact that my finish is probably not

It's the high gloss that will make it hard...it shows *every* imperfection. You could get a nice satin finish by rubbing out the final coat with #0000 steel wool. Light touch on the edges to avoid cutting through. Once a uniform sheen, you could get a pleasant glow with a couple of coats of Johnson's paste wax. Won't be high high gloss but it can be shiny. Looks better IMO than high gloss. ___________________

That's what sanding primer is for :) _______________________

At this point you need not wait that long. It is when you are getting down to the short strokes - the final sanding before rubbing out - that you need for it to be really, really dry.

Myself, I'd spray a smallish area that is messed up with more lacquer first - a wet coat - to see how much fixing that does. Other than that and my note on #1, what you propose should be fine. Especially #3. _____________________

The next coat of lacquer should pretty much do that.
What spraying thinner can be good for is "blushing". If you spray in humid weather the moisture can get trapped under the lacquer and it will turn opaque and whitish. That can be a problem with aerosols particulary (but not exclusively) because IIRC they use propane for a propellant and the stuff comes out chilled.
The way to avoid it is to have it dry more slowly. Can't add a retarder to spray cans but you *can* put a cardboard box over the work as soon as it is sprayed. If it still blushes (or did previously) a sprayed coat of thinner then the box will let the moisture get out. Note I'm not saying you should do this as apparently you haven't had any problem with blushing. It's a "just in case" note...I happened to think of it because it is a sweat box today here in Florida.

You mean on top of what you have? Normally, yes because the vehicle is the same. However, in aerosols, they may be using something a bit different so I'd try it on a non-conspicuous place first.
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.06... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

That is a GREAT idea at this point. A nice satin black finish is just what the doctor ordered.
So you think that my overspray might just melt into the next topcoat of lacquer without sanding? I plan on laying it as wet as I can without sags and drips. Also, will #0000 steel wool provide a different result from sanding? I have never used steel wool before.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
kawai wrote:

Don't overdo it. _____________

Ummm...sorta. It smooths more than abrades. Conforms to the surface too. _____________

You're gonna love it.
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.06... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Sand it. I've tried that before, and it is going to show up if you don't. It may make it look more like an orange peel than a rough sandpaper-type surface, but it's still not what you're looking for.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

150 grit seems awfully agressive at the stage you're at. I'd try starting with 320 or 400, and then give it a once-over with a loupe (one of those little plastic magnifiers that you hold in one eye- they're only about $4-5, and they work great for checking surfaces between finish coats) Look to make sure that the sanding scratches are uniform and even- if you've got some scratches that are deeper than others, you can back down one grit (IE, 320 - 220) and resand. I'd take it up to 400 grit before spraying again.

Laquer can look really nice, it just takes practice and care. If you put the time in, it's going to look a lot nicer than poly over latex. If you buit it well enough to last for a long time, it's probably worth the effort to keep at it until it is how you want it. Otherwise, the sucker will just bug you forever.

Sometimes that's a little easier if you wipe a little bit of water over the top of the wood to raise the grain, let it dry, and then sand.

Looks like I typed the above for nothing! Sounds about right to me.

Probably isn't going to look right.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Jeff Jewitt suggests sprat the edge closest to you first and overlap with the next pass by 50 and repeat. The overspray doesn't land on fresh coats of finish this way. I use a fan behind me when spraying to help the overspray get away from the project.
wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Great idea about the fan. I will try that - I just hope it doesn't accelerate the drying time or blow other debris into the cabinet (I am spraying outside).
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
4ax.com:

Not that it helps you now, but that would not have been my choice. I would have used a boat enamel, like Interlux Brightside. Working with birch ply, you should be able to get a very nice finish by sanding to 150, paint w/ Interlux primer, sand that, 2nd coat of primer, sand that w/ 220, then put on 2 coats of topcoat, sanding w/ 220 between them. Brightside, at least, goes on very well with a brush, I think most other marine one-part enamels would be equally easy to use.
(I'll note that there's something of a "you get what you pay for" here - a quart of Brightside will set you back $32, which is a tad more than 2 cans of rustoleum.)
John
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.