Testing Pre-Cats and Conversion Varnishes

By Bernie Bottens | Posted: 03/22/2012 9:53AM

 

This begins a series of articles on new products that I have tested. Over the next few weeks, I will take each in turn and give you a glimpse of what happens with these coatings when you pick up the gun and spray. Then I’ll talk a bit about why you would want to use these particular coatings.

I’ve not had the pleasure as of yet of spraying the Chemcraft or the Sherwin Williams zero formaldehyde products. Hopefully, someday soon I’ll get that chance. So please, other than that it’s my job to work with M.L. Campbell on a daily basis, I also get opportunities to work with other products. But on this occasion, it was a matter of our need to bring these products to market and that means that my thumbs up is necessary before we place a stocking order. Why shouldn’t you benefit form that opportunity?

It was a busy week at work. Most weeks are like that but this one was also rewarding in that the day finally arrived when we were scheduled to do some new product testing. Along with that testing came the opportunity for me to fulfill my promise to those of you who read my articles. For months I have asked that you stay tuned because I would report back when I had the opportunity to spray the new zero formaldehyde products from M.L. Campbell. We also took this opportunity to test their new two-component water-borne polyurethane. And, we did a side-by-side comparison between their two pigmented conversion varnishes.

Why would someone want a zero formaldehyde coating? I am certain that there are those who read this who will be waiting a long time for that need to arise. And, for some, it will, perhaps, never come depending upon your niche market and your clientele. However, for those of you who spray solvent-based lacquers, these new products open up a whole new list of opportunities.

• Formaldehyde exposure is not healthy for anyone be it finisher or home owner.
• There is no formaldehyde release in the course of applying curing, installing and using these.
• They are, in addition, Greenguard certified.
• Their odor is very different – much less pungent and much less bighting both during application and afterward when drying/curing.
• They atomize easily and lay down very well right out of the can.
• They dry really hard.
• They scuff sand better and sooner than their formaldehyde-containing stable mates.
• They have great clarity.
• The “feel” under the fingers is wonderful.
• The look is really good.

Other than that, they are just like all other lacquers, right?

Are you kidding me??? If you believe that statement, then you missed the point.

We made seven doors each of EnviroMax, EnviroVar, Aguatana, and a side-by-side comparison panel between MLC’s two pigmented conversion varnishes, Resistant and Stealth. All of this was done to validate for our branch that these products were something that we would inventory.

EnviroMax is another member of the “Max family” of pre-cats. E-Max (my abbreviation) is formulated to use the same catalyst as the other members of the family. It will come to you freshly catalyzed by the distributor that sold it to you. In this case, you have a 60 day use window once that is done for you.

EnviroVar is a post-cat lacquer. This is the coating that won the Sequoia Award at AWFS last summer in Vegas. It is amber in color and, like its sibling, E-Max, it will amber with time to some degree. E-Var (again, my abbreviation) uses a new catalyst developed just for this product. The catalyst even has an amber color to it. The results of this in use are two-fold. You aren’t going to easily confuse it with the water clear C149 Care Catalyst used in all the other MLC post-cat products. And, F.Y.I., it is a 20 to 1 ratio as opposed to the C149’s 10 to 1 ratio. Thus, you will have a visual reminder as you pour it that it is different in both color and mixing ratio.

I found that both of these were a pleasure to work with. I gave you the bullet points above. This stuff is REALLY nice! I hope that you will have the chance in the near future to use these on a job where its strengths are necessary. I couldn’t find a weakness.

However, I know that there will be some who say its price is its weakness. Well, if you have to have a zero formaldehyde, Greenguard certified coating, expect that this market niche will come at a price! If this were easy, we would have a lot of them on the market. We don’t. I’m also certain that the developers of the new resin, upon which this technology is based, didn’t develop it “just because.” As with all things new to the marketplace, expect to pay for it.

Next week we will discuss M.L. Campbell’s new Aguatana water-borne urethane post cat. Stay tuned!

Until next time…spray on!


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About the Author

Bernie Bottens

Bernie Bottens (WoodworkingNetwork.com/blogs)writes and teaches on the subject of wood and wood finishing in industrial woodworking. He and his wife, Carol, live in Vancouver, WA. Bernie has been teaching wood finishing to shop owners, shop foremen, spray technicians and finishers all over Oregon, southwest Washington, and northern California for the past 9 years. Prior to that, he owned his own cabinet shop. His shop credentials include apprenticing and becoming a journeyman exhibit builder. Before that he taught in the public schools for 20 years. Bernie is the owner of Kapellmeister Enterprises, Inc. and Kap Coatings Consulting. Reach him at kapenterprises@msn.com.

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