Brushed-On Cabinet Finishes

The architect wants a "brushed-on" look but how can we create that with modern finishes? October 3, 2011

A contractor who I do a lot of work for is building a home for an architect who will be heavily involved and oversee the construction of the home. The architect wants a brushed on finish. I voiced my concerns over the durability of the product and submitted a scratch glaze sample.

The architect did not like the sample and made the comment "no, I want it to look like an old man painted it." He also said that there is "something that cabinetmakers do" which gives a brushed on finish the durability of a conversion varnish topcoat.

I really want this job. Does anyone know what the architect is talking about? Bottom line, it seems there is no way to get the texture of a brushed on finish without brushing it on, but is there such a thing as a conversion varnish, or even a lacquer for that matter, which can be brushed on?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor L:
Spray on a catalyzed primer and brush it. You will have to have two guys and the sprayer will need to go slow so the brusher can keep up. Brush the second coat of primer, sand the first like you would normally. Then use a scotchbrite pad to tooth the primer before coating with CV. This will keep the brush marks and give good adhesion to the next layers of CV. Then any subsequent CV coats will go on and retain the brushed look.

From contributor B:
Boy, I couldn't imagine trying to brush a catalyzed primer, especially on one detailed cabinet, but I guess it's been done. I would prime with oil primer, sand, reprime, sand, spray oil topcoat, back brush, spray wet on wet final coat.

From the original questioner:

I should also mention that I have a Kremlin 10-14 and a Sata rp gun. I have never sprayed oil based primer. Would this require a different setup?

Also, I hadn't considered brushing the primer, but I will try that as well. What prevents the primer from flattening out a bit as it dries, which would slightly diminish the desired effect?

From contributor L:
Don't worry, it won't have time to flatten out. You are going to have a hard enough time brushing out the areas before it is too dry to accept the brush marks. You will also have to keep dipping the brush in thinner to keep it from clogging up. Make sure the bristles can handle the thinner.

From contributor D:
Or brush a coat of acrylic paint and topcoat with sprayed pre-cat lacquer.

From contributor B:
I wouldn't run the oil through the 10-14. If this job is that important, consider renting an airless. Whatever you decide, I suggest you try these methods on similar detailed samples prior to jumping into it. I know brushing BM Impervo or SW Pro Classsic or your local supplier's quality oil. Again, try brushing oil compared to a 2K CV primer, and you be the judge.

From contributor A:
I saw one of these brushed CV kitchens a few years ago. It looked like they used a broom. Ugliest paint job I've ever seen. Ruined a 75k beaded face frame, inset door, huge kitchen.

Perhaps a protocol like contributor L's has a better potential. It would be great to find a non cat primer that can be used under the CV.

They may sell a brushing reducer for either product. I have used a brushing reducer for 2k marine poly, but that still came out like glass.

Do a sample and get the architect, GC and customer to sign the back of the sample with permanent marker. Make the kitchen look like the sample, take a few photos and be thankful you can't see it from your house. You may consider having a notary witness the signing just to be sure. LOL.

From contributor P:
Simple. Brush on last coat of oil paint. If it has to be latex, brush first coat and spray the last one. I would spray then brush the last coat of oil trim paint.

From contributor T:
I have done a couple of jobs with brushed on quality latex and then topcoated with water borne conversion varnish, with great results.