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polyurethane finish is peeling off

Up north Member

Hi everyone,

We have a problem with a kitchen we installed in 2012. The finish is starting to peel off (not sure if that's the best way to describe it..) Please see photos attached.

As we don't do finishing in-house, I don't have much knowledge in this area. I will of courses get in touch with the company who did the finish but I just wanted to see if any of you had a similar experience?

It's a polyurethane finish. it's not only where there is heat or water....

Any help would be much appreciated!

View higher quality, full size image (3264 X 2448)

View higher quality, full size image (3264 X 2448)

3/1/16       #2: polyurethane finish is peeling off ...
rich c.

Doesn't appear to be much film thickness. Are you sure it was polyurethane? If so, they sure didn't put much on it. I suspect some type of incompatible cleaning product used on top of a thin finish is your trouble.

3/1/16       #3: polyurethane finish is peeling off ...
Up north

The customers only uses a damp cloth to clean it.. Im also suspecting that they did'nt put polyurethane but instead went with a much cheaper product...

Thanks for your response.

3/2/16       #4: polyurethane finish is peeling off ...
Paul Snyder  Member


Check with the company that did the finishing to see if they can tell you the exact product they used. Polyurethane may be waterborne, oil-based, or a catalyzed finish.

It's very possible the sunlight fro the window is the source of the problem. Sunlight damages finishes and the surface of the wood which leads to problems like this.

3/2/16       #5: polyurethane finish is peeling off ...
Up north


Thanks for your input. I'm pretty sure it's a 2K polyurethane...Still, if the sunlight did this in 3 years.Ouch...

I guess UV protection would not have helped either if there was any?

So far, I'm going a bit in the direction that Rich pointed out.That they used something cheaper like a pre catalysed lacquer.

3/2/16       #6: polyurethane finish is peeling off ...
Paul Snyder  Member


Is that one panel by the stove the only one that has the finish is delaminating? If so, the problem may be sunlight or heat from the stove. If it's not the only one, then sunlight may be the problem if they are all exposed to direct sunlight.

Whenever wood is exposed to direct sunlight, using a UV film on the window will help slow the damage considerably. UV additives in the finish help as well.

If the affected panels are more random, not in direct light or by a source of heat or high humidity, then the finish may have been catalyzed improperly, the wood may be oily, or an incompatible sealer may have been used. 3 years is a very short service life for interior conditions....

3/3/16       #7: polyurethane finish is peeling off ...
Up north Member

Thanks again Paul.

It is short! I'm waiting for them to get back to me with what they think the problem is and how they plan on fixing it...

Doors and drawers are not a big deal as they're easy to take off but end panels are another thing...

3/3/16       #8: polyurethane finish is peeling off ...

Do a lacquer thinner rub on the back of one of the doors. If it comes off in 3 or 4 rubs, it's a lacquer products. Urethane will withstand many rubs. Or you can use acetone.

3/3/16       #9: polyurethane finish is peeling off ...

Being right next to the stove, I suspect some kind of oven cleaner, stainless steel cleaner/polish was involved. I make sure to instruct clients to apply products like that to a rag first, so over spray doesn't hit the cabinets, or counter top.

3/3/16       #10: polyurethane finish is peeling off ...

It's right there in the triangle of death. Lots of water etc.. I agree with rich c, doesn't look like a lot of film build. A 2K poly should be more than enough protection even against cleaners. Could be a two coat wham bam thank you mam.

3/4/16       #11: polyurethane finish is peeling off ...
Up north Member

Thanks everyone!

I'll try the lacquer thinner on the back of a doors...

It's true about the triangle of death but in that case, it seem to spread out...

Thanks again everyone!

3/4/16       #12: polyurethane finish is peeling off ...
Mike Fuson

I've seen that happen several times with lacquer due to moisture. I find it hard to believe that 2k poly or cv would do that.

5/21/16       #13: polyurethane finish is peeling off ...
Steve G.

poly does not burn in like lacquers do,perhaps they did not sand between coats good enough

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