Painting 101

I need a finish that is both easily applied and durable. Do you know of anything?

Q. I work for an amusement game manufacturer and we are currently making a machine that has a curved cabinet. I am using a product called wiggle wood to create the cabinet and then wrapping the wiggle wood with Formica once the cabinet is assembled. I have been trying to find some sort of painting or coating process that I can use to eliminate the Formica. I have tried painting the wood, but have a hard time with the grain not covering. I need a finish that is both easily applied and durable. Do you know of anything?—P.G.

A. Typically we address coating issues related to metals, plastics and so on. However, I have an extensive background in wood coatings. The first thing to determine is the coating performance criteria. What type of wood are you using? Some types of wood will require more work than others. If you are using oak, for example, there is more grain to cover unlike walnut or poplar wood. In regards to the finishing process, you could use an inexpensive lacquer which would not wear well, all the way up to a two-component coating that would wear like iron.

Also, determine if you want a wood grain showing, or a solid color. Each type of finish would require a different process. If you are finishing the part to reveal stained wood grain, like furniture, you would need to first stain the part to the desired color. Then, use multiple sealer coats and sand between coats. This will help to cover the grain of the wood before adding 2-3 final clear coats. When doing solid color work, you will want to apply several coats of primer, sanding between coats. Apply 2-3 solid paint colors to finish up your work. To give an extra layer of protection you can apply a final clear coat after sanding the last paint coat.

Originally published in the July 2015 issue.

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