Soft, "Buttery"-Feeling Finishes

How do commercial cabinet companies achieve the pleasing tactile surface feeling some finishes seem to have? April 18, 2015

Question (WOODWEB Member) :
I had a chance to check out a few Kraft maid kitchens lately. The finish is very slick, almost like there is something in it or either put on after finished. Our finishes are smooth and slick with no orange peel and free of dust, etc. How they are getting that real buttery feel, especially on grainy oak?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor T:
Not sure if it's related or I even fully understand the "slick" feeling you're describing but I recently switched from Mohawk coatings (mostly Duracoat pre-cat) to ChemCraft Versacure and I have noticed that it has a "slicker" feel when it has cured. I have sprayed MLC products (pre-and post-cat, pigmented, etc.) and the aforementioned Mohawk, and the difference in the feel of the ChemCraft is significant. I'm not talking about how clean or smooth the finish is, but how it feels-almost silky, maybe?

From the original questioner:
Yes itís sort of the silky feeling, or buttery feeling the finish has. The finish feels as if it has a lubricant on it.

From contributor J:
Maybe they are wiped down before packaging?

From contributor C:
I find some of the 2k poly's that I spray can have that buttery feel.

From contributor M:
Kraftmaid "bakes" their top coat (heat cure). They call it Duracraft but I think itís only the doors/drawer front/molding that gets treated that way. It does feel nice but I have seen better!

From the original questioner:
It does feel nice, but of course there are dust nibs and some small bits here and there. It is a mass produced cabinet, but for the most part it feels great for an off the gun finish. I think you are right about the face frames as they do not quite feel the same. Our finish is also off the gun and even with perfect atomization and no trash it feels great but not as slick as that finish. It almost feels like that slick plastic on table saw fences.

From Contributor S:
If you add fisheye remover to your finishes then you can also get them to feel slick. If you add too much then your finish will also be softer.

From Contributor P:
I have Kraftmaid cabinets in both of bathrooms at my home. They are 15 years old and are in perfect condition. The only coating from that era that can withstand that level of use is conversion varnish. I have been finishing cabinets since 1978 and Sherwin Wiliams Kemvar conversion varnish definitely has that feel. Itís silky right off the gun. Other CV's have that feel to some degree as well.

From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor::
Kraftmaid uses a UV cure finish. They call the curing tunnel an oven, and the temperature inside is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but ultraviolet light is the curing agent - it only takes a few seconds for the finish to cure completely. The UV lights do put off a lot of heat.

Coatings formulators are intentionally making their finishes feel smooth and buttery. It's a science called haptics - where the sensation related to the feel of a product creates a positive feeling among people who touch it. It's good for sales. Formulators have known for a long time that using certain types of waxes in finishes acts as a surface modifier that enhances scratch, mar, and abrasion resistance as well as providing a smooth soft feel (among a longer list of other benefits).

A few years ago, a company called CYK introduced a new biodegradable matting agent that also modifies the surface of the coating to provide a buttery feel. It's cross compatible with waterborne, solvent, and UV coatings. I don't know that Kraftmaid uses this ingredient in their formulation, but it would be a good option to provide the sheen and feel they offer. The name of the ingredient is Ceraflour 1000.