Choosing a White Lacquer

Cabinet finishers talk about their preferences and experiences with opaque white spray finishes. January 18, 2011

Can anyone provide tips on solid white finishing? I have used ML Campbell Magnalac primer and white pigmented lacquer. I like the primer but I hate the lacquer. So I switched to Magnamax white pigmented lacquer, which is okay, but I'm still looking for a better white finish. I've been told white conversion varnish is a lot better, but I've never used conversion varnish. Any advice?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor C:
I use Becker Acroma's Matador quite a bit, and I really like it. The Unisurfacer primer is good as well.

From contributor S:
I often use two coats of MLC Clawlock primer, a coat of MLC Resistant, and a final coat of clear MLC conversion varnish on painted jobs.

Remember, these conversion varnishes must be catalyzed in your shop when you mix a batch, and you need to sand between all coats, as CV needs a mechanical bond for adhesion.

From contributor L:
I hated Resistant. Couldn't make it work. Then MLC came out with Stealth. Night and day. This stuff comes close to acting like a clear. Just make sure you thin it about 15% and put it on as a wet coat. I love this stuff.

From contributor S:
What problem did you have with Resistant, and how is Stealth better? Is Stealth a conversion varnish?

From contributor L:
Always had problems with bubbles and not a glass smooth surface when I lucked out and it worked. This is when I was using HVLP guns. After all the problems I had with it, I never tried it in my Kremlin.

Stealth is a redesigned Resistant. It uses a new solvent package. It was designed to combat the shearing problem that some AAA machines had, including the Kremlin. It is a conversion varnish. The only thing I don't like about it is that it separates fast and needs to be stirred a lot more than most of MLC's other finishes. But it flows out like a clear and I rarely have any issues with it. A small bubble every once in a while. Has great vertical hang.

From contributor D:
The last white kitchen I did was with MLC Clawlock, two coats (as a primer), and two coats of Crystal. It was the first time I used a post cat and it went well. It seems to be more resistant to scuff marks than Magnamax.

From contributor L:
MagnaMax is pretty scuff resistant, but you have to wait until it is fully cured to reach that scuff resistant state. The CV Krystal is about 85% cured within 24 hours, so it is as ready in 24 hours as MagnaMax is in about 18 days. It is more scuff resistant than MagnaMax is overall. It is a tougher finish. But it is also more brittle and can be more prone to chipping than MagnaMax in the long run.

From contributor P:
I am always careful when choosing a white system because it's pretty easy to go over the manufacturer's recommended film thickness. Some manufacturers only recommend 4 dry mils. By the time you put a couple of primers and a topcoat on there, you're getting pretty close to the film limit. I always choose companies like Lorchem or Becker Acroma that build extra flexibility into their coatings to allow for recoat due to dirt in the finish, etc. Both Becker and Lorchem have a maximum dry film thickness of 6 dry mils. I have been happy with the results from either company.