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Client complaint about wood top scratching too easily

jonathan mahnken

I have a client who ordred a 2'x4' BB top and wanted it stained dark with a clear coat. They picked a walnut General Finishes wb stain and I chose to top coat it With the GF Enduro Var satin. I did four coats. It sat in my shop a week before they picked it up. It has been installed for about a month. I received a text message today stating that the top had "scratched " far too easily just form having a 6 pack of bottles slid across the top. They sent a pic of what look to be barely visible surface scratches. I told them that the scratches were probably due to debris on the bottom of the carton and not actually from the carton itself, and that a cardboard carton would not scratch the surface this way. i also sent them a copy of the General finishes product data sheet stating that this product is suitable for residential flooring, so that they would know I didnt try to cheat them on the coating. They insist that are insisting that i used an inferior product and that the top should not have scratched under said condition. I have attached a pic of the "damage". I held my ground and told them that the damage was likely due to debris on the bottom of the carton but if that the problem persisted and they were dissatisfied I would be more than happy to recoat the top for them at my next available date in January.... Thoughts, opinions?

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11/30/16       #2: Client complaint about wood top scr ...

I really dont understand the logic of some people. Ask them if they would slide stuff over the hood of their car?

Any finished surface is going to be prone to scratching and common sense needs to apply.

I have yet to find a waterborne product that is worth a darn for scratch/mar resistance. 2K poly would be best for a table top, but it can still scratch.

11/30/16       #3: Client complaint about wood top scr ...
Matt Krig Member

We run into this once in a while, especially with younger customers who are "all in" financially on their home and are devastated by visible wear and tear on their biggest investment. We deal with it case by case (beer). As a result of customers not wanting to take responsibility for their actions we have a finish disclaimer that we review in the proposal that basically states that scratches are normal wear and tear finish will scratch or sustain other damage when contaced with anything hard or abrasive. We are also working on an acceptance and sign off for GC's and customers to review our finish before we leave to cut off the "I just discovered and I can't believe I didn't notice it sooner" 6 weeks after completion emails. If it will scratch your car it will scratch your cabinets and possibly dent or damage the wood below the finish as well.
Would you slide that same six pack across the hood of a new car that cost as much as your new kitchen?

11/30/16       #4: Client complaint about wood top scr ...


Tell your customer to drink the six pack and then examine the scratches. If they are still present, drink another. Continue drinking will cause the scratches to disappear.

On the serious side: it is aggravating that some people expect they can blame others for their carelessness. We have a disclaimer in our contracts addressing scratches. As has been stated, treat your finish like a fine car.
You have graciously offered to repair the damage they caused showing you are willing to satisfy your customers at your cost. What more could they want.

11/30/16       #5: Client complaint about wood top scr ...
Robert Member

Not going to detail all the in & out of making finishing, but many different type of resins are out there & some need catalyse and some don’t !
In the waterborne world, if you want some “decent” quality finish over any tops, DONT use pre cat such what you used. ANY brand claiming different is a marketing trap !
Ask any pro finisher who as done various waterborne brand, pre or catalyze needed, solvent base precat or catalyzed will tel ya.....A pre cat will never be AS resistant as a catalyzed one.
That said, there’s also to consider resin type !
Now, can’t ask all finishers to become chemist, but on the other hand, follow brand claims, fall in the “marketing” pit of promises.....and you get what you got.....A less resistant finish then you hopped for !
We have to learn ( some get it harder, some get it simpler) to progress.....this is one example !
Now you’ve learn the General finishes is not holding there promises as you expected nor have read from forums.

Like the car example!!, but.....there’s more to it, look at heavy industrial vehicle finishes, strange, THEY withstand A LOT more abuse then any general car finish.....Strange ??....NOT! !!
Quality exist for any application, it’s a question of cost, labor intense and many more reasons, but bottom line, you got what you +/- payed for !

No offence, no attack, my worth experience with a dose 2ct !
All the best !

11/30/16       #6: Client complaint about wood top scr ...
jonathan mahnken

Thanks for the replies. Robert I understand and was fully aware that i wasnt using a 2k finish. However I do think that it is a worthy finish given the application. (Also let it be known that i am in a water based only county) The scratches in the photos are more of just a change in sheen rather than deep physical damage. You cant even feel them. This is a 2x4 butcher block on an small island in a very average house, not a public bar. In this instance a more expensive 2k finish would have been almost as expensive as the butcher block itself. This would have made the entire project unreasonably expensive given the application and setting. I told them last night that I would be willing to upgrade them to a 2k finish if they were willing to pay for the materials... They decided to pass on any kind of refinish and hold onto their grudge and belief that I used the wrong finish.

11/30/16       #7: Client complaint about wood top scr ...
Robert Member

Johnathan, I hear ya !
Some, unfortunately, will always "bitch" regardless......and.....therefore, move ahead, there worthless for your expansion business purposes ! noted there is more & more waterbase finishes with either catalyses or cross linkers.
Still MUCH better than an basic low resistance General finish....and worth looking at prices as yes, more expensive, but that much !
All best, good luck.

11/30/16       #8: Client complaint about wood top scr ...

Waterborne lacquer and scratch resistance is an oxymoron. 2K Poly for a counter top....anything else gets you a call back!

If you are unwilling to use solvent based products in your shop, you need to be upfront with the client, and tell them the coating is not resistant to scratches.

11/30/16       #9: Client complaint about wood top scr ...
jonathan mahnken

To Robert J, would you consider what is in the photos to be damage worth considering? Are you saying that there are no WB products that have resistance to surface abrasions? It is not a situation of willing or unwilling to use solvent based products. I live in California and here in ventura county it is illegal to spray almost all solvent based products.

And to Robert, You state that there are some WB products that would perform better in this situation. What are these products you speak of?

11/30/16       #10: Client complaint about wood top scr ...

Hello JM,

You need to find some European coatings:
ICA (italy), Milesi (Italy), Sayerlack (Italy:sold thru Sherwin Williams) or, try
the wood floor industry and their waterborne finishes. Glitsa has great products that now come with waterborne technology. Bona Traffic is an easy choice....

Target coatings make several waterborne lacquers that may be better then General.
Fuhr, if they are still in business made a good exterior waterborne that may hold up to scratching.

11/30/16       #11: Client complaint about wood top scr ...
rich c.

If it's only a 2x4 butcher block, order it prefinished next time. I would be concerned with the film thickness and cure time. No idea how thick of coat you put on, but 4 coats is a lot. You didn't mention cure time between coats. What does GF recommend for maximum film thickness on that finish?

11/30/16       #12: Client complaint about wood top scr ...
dean c

I can appreciate you using a waterborne finish, esp in your locality.
Not so sure how the one you picked compares to real floor finishes ( what does suitable mean?). I've used Absolute Coatings LnL 1500 which is a real floor finish on doors and it is very durable.
More importantly though, I can't buy into your excuse about the 2k poly ( which would have been the right choice).
You can box-coat that top 4 times with one cup gun! Cost maybe $20.
Why should the cost of material make a difference? Even if the Enduro Var cost $8-10 bucks for a cup, were your margins so tight that that was too much?

11/30/16       #13: Client complaint about wood top scr ...
jonathan mahnken

I have ordered prefinished butcherblocks before, and the finish is pretty lacking. I did four coats but I back sanded with 320 between every coat so the final film is not that thick. GF does not have a mill thickness limit on this coating that i know of. It could be possible that the finished has not reached final cure yet. I suppose I could have tried something like bona floor finish... However GF does state in its tech data sheet that this product can be used for floors.

As far as the amount of coating I used on this top, it was about a quart and a half, I sealed the underside as well to help keep it balanced... But I had to buy a gallon, and most of the other WB 2k coatings that i am seeing for sale only come in gallons as well. So what am I to do charge the customer 20 bucks and sit on 80 hoping that someone else will want the same finish before the opened container expires?

Again, and correct me if im way outa line, but I feel like I did a stellar job with a pretty decent product. The finish has not actually failed in any way. I do table and buffett tops all the time with GF precat lacquer and GF poly and never have any complaints. I thought i would go above and beyond with this top and use the more expensive and supposedly more durable endurovar and now I have my first complaint.

12/1/16       #14: Client complaint about wood top scr ...
Denny J

I am a pretty big fan of GF but not necessarily that product. I am not saying this with certainty but part if the chemistry of a floor finish is that it have resins with enough flexibility that they can tolerate the expansion and shrinkage of seasonal shifts in humidity and temperature. That may not lead to the greatest scratch resistance and IMHO the GF poly might have been a better choice along with the added cross linker.

In the end you cannot be responsible for their lack of responsibility.

12/1/16       #15: Client complaint about wood top scr ...
rich c.

GF says 3 coats recommended, 21 days cure time under ideal conditions. Your 4th coat would have added cure time, and no idea when the scuffs actually appeared. As far as you doing a stellar job? It seems like the customer is not happy. As far as not charging the client for the material. They pay for the gallon unless I have a job waiting to use the same material. If the left over goes on a shelf, they pay for the container purchased.

12/2/16       #16: Client complaint about wood top scr ...

The Enduro Var spec mentions nothing about floors. It sounds like a typical all purpose "looks like oil" wb poly for cabinets.
There are plenty of wb that are fine on countertops. They are usually catalyzed. General makes a conversion varnish.

I've used the wb post cat MLC Aquabarnice and its bombproof.

12/2/16       #17: Client complaint about wood top scr ...


The final 'cure' time for waterborne coatings is at least 30 days.

You 'should' have informed the client to be extremely careful with the top for that period. Next time, put in a disclaimer.

If you can, remove the top and respray.

12/2/16       #18: Client complaint about wood top scr ...

You offered a fair remedy to the customer. If they choose not to accept the ball is in their court.

I would never recommend any clear coating system for a kitchen island or counter top. I shoot 2k urethanes and yes they would perform best, but the type of marring you see in this case is almost guaranteed to happen no matter what clear finish is used. Lighting can make the scratches seem worse. Dark Colors show scratches more also. I doubt they would pick up these scratches if it were a natural color.

Its all about their expectation and your obligation to fairly notify them of the limitations in a particular circumstance. With a kitchen counter people don't take the care they otherwise would with a dining room table for example. If I am asked to bid a kitchen surface this way I make absolutely sure they know I give no warranty against scratches. Because they want a particular look does not mean I have to provide it- at least not without making my objections clear and in writing.

12/2/16       #19: Client complaint about wood top scr ...

5 weeks of cure time, scratches/scuffs that you can't feel but can see caused by sliding a six pack across does sound like the product wasn't up to the job.
At $80.00+ a gallon l too would have thought otherwise and used it with confidence as well.
If this is the scenario and not that your customer is trying to get you to take responsibility for their carelessness; it sounds to me like GF should give you a gallon of their CV to try out on your customers wood top. That's a better outcome all the way around.

12/2/16       #20: Client complaint about wood top scr ...
jonathan mahnken

Adam check the msds. It states there that it can be used for floors.

Yes I should have done a disclaimer and contract. This was a small "no brainer" job that went fast, so I didnt, lesson learned there. Im confident that the finish will actually hold up pretty well, as there is no actual damage, like some others have said light surface marring is almost impossible to avoid no matter what CC you use.

Thanks to everyone for their input. Im still kind of torn about the situation. I really pride myself on doing awesome finishes, and I always have happy customers, but I guess you cant please them all?

12/2/16       #21: Client complaint about wood top scr ...

Good thing I'm wearing waders! It's gettin deep on this thread.
Sorry to bust ur you know whats folks but it ALL scratches. 2K poly, CV, glass, metal, epoxy and polyester resin (both used heavily in the restaurant business)! The scratches are just shallower on some. Did your client check the bottom of the six pack?

I've got Enduro Var on my own maple flooring in my kitchen as it IS recommended for flooring. Nice stuff and it's holding up well after five years because it's flexible but it wouldn't be my first choice for a table top. I'd go with GF's poly. If push comes to shove offer to re-coat with poly. Sand it put a coat GF sanding sealer to seal it and then a coat of poly or two. And call it a day.

12/2/16       #22: Client complaint about wood top scr ...
jonathan mahnken

Thanks Bart. It is my suspicion that there was sand like debris on the bottom of the box. I have a shelf in my refrigerator that is all scratched up fom the bottom of 6 pack containers. They are notoriously gritty on the bottom. What is your opinion of the damage in the photos? I should have just shot the poly as this is one of my shop standards, I felt like I was upgrading with the endurovar. I talked with a painting contractor friend of mine today and he recommended that I use the Bona floor product... Honestly I dont feel that motivated to repair it. I can almost guarantee that if they slid the same box across the hood of their car(2k poly) it would leave similar marks. I just dont like having unhappy customers, this is the part that frustrates me.

12/3/16       #23: Client complaint about wood top scr ...

Jonathon, I know of Bona but have never used there products. Wood floor finishes have to be flexible to move with real wood flooring (not the engineered stuff which is usually a baked on finish). Flexible means softer. I just did a live edge coffee table with west epoxy and top coated with a solvent/satin for a softer look. It looks phenomenal but it WILL scratch. It's the nature of the beast.

The EV is a softer finish ala a solvent based poly. It is only 2x4 so you could whip it out. You could offer em a one time deal. You do need to seal the EV before putting poly on if you go that route. GF's CV is a Euro based 2K WB but the catalyst is not for me.

good luck

12/7/16       #24: Client complaint about wood top scr ...

I maybe out in left field here, but I would have pushed the client towards a more natural finish. I island/bar is going to get scratched. Weather it happens early or late is immaterial, its going to happen. A more natural finish could be renewed and would not show the scratches as much. Just my 2 cents.

12/13/16       #25: Client complaint about wood top scr ...
danshaf Member

Well, here's the deal. RobertJ is 100% spot on in all that he shared so far in this thread. He's right about its ability to hold up to scratches and he's right about that 4-5 week wait for a full cure.

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