Refinishing Commercial Interior Paneling

Advice on touching up and "freshening" large areas of finished wall paneling in a public building with poor ventilation. April 24, 2014

(WOODWEB Member):
We have a large public space with about 10k sqft of paneling (yes, 10k) that wants to refresh the finish. We don't need to strip it. But there is 0% possibility of outside ventilation. We need to do some touch up/repair work first.

What product(s) would you use? My only thought is standard Mohawk touch up products, then go back in 48 hours with GF polyacrylic tinted with their dye stains. Is there a better alternative? The existing finish is lacquer. But it's paneling in meeting rooms, and doesn't need a high-wear finish.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor J:
A lot of those commercial buildings have hvac sensors that won't allow the doors to be opened without alarms sounding!

Use a 12" diameter exhaust fan with a long 12" plastic (light mil) exhaust tube. Prop the door open, seal it off with tape and plastic. Cut a 12" hole for the exhaust tube, seal with tape and station a security guard.

Not sure if this helps for your specific situation? It works for us. Of course the exhaust fan moves with the sprayer.

From contributor D:
We did something similar, and used a wiping varnish after the touchups. Looked like a spray finish when done, and went pretty quickly.

From contributor A:
Would it be possible to clean/buff/polish what's there and preform spot touch ups where needed? Spraying on site can definitely be iffy. With 10k square feet, sounds like there would be a lot of masking in order to do this, and poor ventilation is a deal breaker for spraying.

I really can't imagine applying a wipe/brush product while achieving results that are much better than a $15 per hour craigslist painter. That is unless you want to spend months French polishing, or padding lacquer, wet sanding, and buffing.

From contributor N:
If it was my job I'd probably go with your plan (except I like Target 9000), but contributor D's plan would work too and probably be less work, less mess and take less time. I have found with wipe on poly (I've used a lot of Dalys Pro-fin and Old Masters gel varnish) is to get your surface clean before your touch-ups (ammonia cleaner lightly rubbed in with a maroon scotch-brite and wiped off works great) and then before finishing, get your surface as smooth as possible (a quick 000 or 0000 steel wool rub should do it) because a wipe-on finish will usually/always telegraph what's underneath itů even 400 grit scratches.

From contributor D:
When prepped properly, and applied properly, a wiping varnish can give you pretty good results. You can adjust the open time, especially if you make your own wiping varnish, and over the right substrate it can look great.