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How difficult is it switching from solvent-based finishes to waterborne?

Well, it’s simple in some ways, merely just a manner of proper flushing of your spray equipment. However, most finishers accustomed to solvent systems struggle with re-learning their technique. Waterborne finish tends to act and look differently while wet, and this causes most to over apply the wet film, trying to achieve the “look” of solvent in the application process. Reducing wet mils is key.

 

How do I speed up production in my finishing process?

Many ways, but first, let’s look at where the time goes. Most of our production time in finishing falls in to four areas: prep sanding, material handling, spraying, and drying. We can look to all four areas for improvements in speed.

 

Prep sanding
Prep sanding can be improved with proper technique as well as grits and abrasive types.

 

Material handling
This can be improved with carts and drying rack systems for moving and dealing with wet parts. Getting things in and out of the booth can be huge.

 

Spraying
When it comes to spraying, don’t overlook your type of finish, as higher solids post-catalyzed products can often mean less coats. Also, investing in an Airmix™ spray system can dramatically increase your production.

 

Drying
Coatings with faster stack times can aid in moving product in and out. Additionally, investing in heated oven systems cuts down on waiting for finishes to dry.

 

 

How do I improve the quality in the finish department?

Let’s look at three areas:

 

Color consistency

First of all, much can be gained by understanding the color process and how it applies to your product. Many often fail to consider how they might need to apply or engineer the color process to the product. Start by asking “What is it you are finishing?” Wall panels may require a very different process to achieve consistency than chairs or running trim. Ninety-nine percent of the time, your prep sanding will play a huge role as well.

 

Look and feel of the dry film

When it comes to the look and feel of the dry film, learning how to adjust for temperature changes and how they affect viscosity can go a long way to achieving optimum flow without increasing dry times. Don’t forget that film build adds to the effect. Getting a nice feel may require the right amount of dry film build either by adjusting the amount (or number) of coats or changing to a product with different build characteristics. Keep it clean. Sometimes dust control in a wood shop can be a real challenge. A consumer-grade compressor will give very poor air quality, resulting in blemishes in the film. Don’t skimp on air supply.

 

Clarity of color

Clarity is all about processes and products. Using a combination of a proper stain base to achieve maximum penetration and using the right steps in the process is paramount to achieving dark colors on lighter woods. Proper techniques in applying stain as well as dye and toner steps, allow you to get the rich depth of color without the “mud” look.