There’s No Shortcut To A Quality Finish

There’s No Shortcut to a Quality Finish

In a recent DWM Magazine article, Mark Larson, owner of Midwest Prefinishing, listed five essential elements for a quality finish:

  1. Quality substrate
  2. Prep-sanding
  3. Quality coatings
  4. Newest technology
  5. Multi-coat application

The importance of a multi-coat application
Regarding the multi-coat application, he said, “When you skip, or even scrimp on, an application coat…the finish suffers.  You’ll notice obscured grain, low resistance to moisture and household chemicals, fading and scratching.”

The importance of a sealer
Larson’s standard finish, ProFinish, includes stain, vinyl sealer, and topcoat.  The stain gives the finish its color and definition; the topcoat, its clarity and durability.  The sealer makes its own essential contribution, highlighted in another article by Bernie Bottens, Finishing Editor for Custom Woodworking Business Magazine (July 2011) .

“Think of vinyl sealers as Saran Wrap.  They help to keep in the good and keep out the bad.  Want to keep water out?  Use a vinyl sealer.  Want to seal down contamination?  Vinyl resins can help with that.  They are also sticky.  They help with adhesion. … Look for a sealer that is non-yellowing.  Also, look for one that can be catalyzed to improve its performance.”  (Larson’s vinyl sealer is both non-yellowing and catalyzed.)

Shortcuts sound reasonable; we want them to work.  If they save time and money, we’d be foolish to ignore them.  On the other hand, our integrity and desire to “do it right”, prevent us from taking shortcuts that reduce quality.

A quality finish also requires discipline
Bottens’ article focused more on avoiding specific finish contamination in the shop, than on vinyl sealers.  In addition to Bottens’ suggestions, we’d add a general principle:  a disciplined pride-of-place should prevail.  When  you visit a finishing shop, look for telltale signs of an owner concerned about the quality of his product and business:

  • Cleanliness.  Are the walls and floors clean, free of random stain or paint?
  • Order.  Is it uncluttered?  Can you make out a disciplined system?
  • Ventilation.  Can you breathe with ease?
  • Product appearance.  No smudges on the moulding backs?  Careful labeling?
  • Office and shop separation.  Is the office and shop clearly separated in both function and appearance?
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