Enamel Paints Versus Pigmented Varnishes

Finishers discuss durability and color-matching issues. November 13, 2005

I am currently spraying some cabinets with Ben Moore semi-gloss enamel to match existing trim in the room. I normally use ML Campbell Resistant, but have found on a similar job that the color match was, in fact, not a match. Can anyone tell me which paint is more durable - Ben Moore or Resistant?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
ILVA's 2k urethane matched in Ben Moore's color!

I have a similar situation. I need to match ML Campbell's water-based lacquer to Ben Moore colors. My ML rep informed me that you should make a sample of the color if possible, as you cannot be sure the person who mixed the original color was accurate. You have your finish mixed to the sample color and you use your preferred finish.

You want to spray lacquer/poly, anyway. It's made for spraying. Now and then, we sell a job primed for site painting by telling the client that it can easily be touched up in the future or repainted a different colour easily. Besides, many traditional elements of painted woodwork can be enhanced by brush strokes. We also reduce the price for obvious reasons.

The other proviso about matching a colour in lacquer is that the lacquer will give a much smoother finish. Sometimes this luster difference alone can seem to throw off the perceived colour match. Make your client aware of this - preferably with approved control samples.

I have sprayed quite a bit of Ben Moore enamel and I like it. Is what your spraying Ben Moore's Ironclad Enamel? If so, I think you and your client will be quite pleased with the results. They manufacture a fine line of products. The enamels do like a warm environment in which to dry; otherwise, the sheen can go a little flat on you.

From the original questioner:
My main question as to durability of Ben Moore oil base enamel versus ML Campbell resistant was not addressed. Any opinions on this? In regard to color matching, I tell my ML Campbell rep what Ben Moore color I want to match and he mixes it. Typically, the Ben Moore colors selected are premixed from the factory and not tinted at the store and they always seem to match the color sample of the paint chips. Unfortunately, this is not always the case with the paint I get mixed from ML Campbell.

I am spraying Ben Moore Dulamel and find it sprays well after thinning about 15% with VM&P Naptha. In fact, I seem to get more consistent results with it. When I spray a cabinet job with resistant, I will spray one side of the doors and wait a few hours before flipping and spraying the backs, as I am concerned with marring the finish on the side I already sprayed. I find this later coat to not lay down and flow as well as the first coat. Is there a solution to this?

Resistant from ML Campbell has greater durability than an oil or latex enamel paint. Resistant is an acid cured alkyd urea resin formulation designed to meet tough KCMA test standards. The oil, latex or lacquer enamel systems would not meet the same standards. You would normally not compare the two types of coatings - they are worlds apart.

If you aren't getting a good color match to your Benny Moore samples, it's because the matcher at your lacquer distributor is having problems. If you give him the fan and tell him to match the one you want, he should be able to do it and supply you with a sprayed out sample or a draw-down of their match.

Fans vary in color. The formulae for mixing paint doesn't, so the paint mixer just pumps in the color required for whichever color is selected. When matching that in lacquer, it becomes an eyeball judgment by the color matcher.

As for your other problem, the backside of the panels should be sprayed first and the faces last so that any overspray or marking will be on the backs instead of the faces. Personally, I don't like Resistant and I think there are better products out there, but it is better durability-wise than paint.

I agree that the Resistant is more durable than the BM product. As far as the color match problem, it could be two things: human error, or the difference in the colorants used. The color that you are trying to match would have great bearing on this. Campbell builds their colors off of a 12 color pallet - the Huls 844's. the BM product could be using a 16, 20 or more color pallet. While it is true that normally you can get a color match using 4-5 different combinations of colors and proportions, sometimes a perfect match is very difficult - especially in deep base colors. Pastel colors are usually not an issue. The problem of metamarism also comes up because the colorants used in different formulas reflect/absorb light a little differently. Normally, if you ask, most companies will try to re-match a little closer. We had a homeowner call one of our customers and complain that we mixed a color that her painter couldn't match.

From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
Without seeing side-by-side ASTM testing data, it's impossible to say which coating is more durable. Both are based on a conversion (crosslinking) alkyd binder. Without the catalyst system, the Ben Moore paint will take longer to cure. A finish doesn't have to be bulletproof to pass the tests. It's up to the manufacturer to submit their finishes for testing. The KCMA finish tests are pretty straightforward. Proper application of the finish is as important as its durability; a poorly applied finish won't pass the water test, for example. A wide range of finishes have been tested and meet the KCMA standards, including some nitrocellulose lacquer with a vinyl sealer (e.g., SW NC Lacquer) and various water-base finishes.

The real question is "Is a good quality paint durable enough for kitchens and baths?" The answer is yes. There are some waterborne acrylic enamel paints that are easily up to the task. But paints are so thick and take so long to dry/cure that finishers don't usually use them. Unless you use an airless to spray the paint, you have to thin it a lot to get it to spray. And then you have to wait a long time for it to be ready to pack and deliver. Pigmented finishes designed for spray application and rapid dry/cure times are a lot better for most finish/cabinet shops.