Liquid metal veneer transforms wood and MDF to shiny, durable, waterproof material
June 30, 2016 | 6:20 pm CDT
A wood ball and claw foot metallized by MakeItMetal, whose technology is licensed by Great Lakes Metal.

CHICAGO – Great Lakes Metal Coating recently hosted an open house highlighting its liquid metal veneer coating process.

The unique and innovative coating, which gives the look of real metal can be applied to almost any surface, including wood, MDF, plaster, and concrete. Because it is durable and waterproof, it is suitable for both indoor and outdoor projects from furniture to cabinets, mouldings, doors, drawers, store fixtures and a host of other panel products.

The liquid metal veneer coating is made of 100 percent recycled metal, says Bob Marschik from MakeItMetal, the North American distributor, and there are seven finishes available - brass, bronze, copper, iron, nickel silver, white bronze and zinc - that are cold sprayed through a gravity-feed spray gun.


The process provides an unlimited number of design opportunities. A few designers and cabinetmakers attended the open house looking for ways to include the real metal veneer into their product lines.

Ted Schultz, president of Great Lakes Metal and Hylan Design Ltd.

Architectural design firm Studio Gang, was interested in using the process on approximately 50,000 square feet of panel for the exterior of a high rise building it had designed. Ted Schultz, president of Great Lakes Metal and Hylan Design Ltd., said the project would require partnership with other certified applicators in the state but it was doable.

A Chicagoland cabinetmaker who produces approximately 10,000 cabinets a day in a 100,000 square-foot manufacturing facility is also interested in the process. Chad Kurtz, president, Brakur Custom Cabinetry located in Shorewood, Illinois, says he learned about the metal veneer coating from a trade magazine and is looking at using the coating on range hood accessories.

How liquid metal veneer works

Following are tips and guidelines from MakeItMetal’s website on how real metal veneer coating, developed by Metal-FX and distributed in North America through MakeItMetal, located in Ontario, Canada, is applied.

Application: Metall-FX is almost as simple to use as paint, however, it is not paint and certain rules need to be observed. Liquid metals can be applied using brush or standard HVLP (high volume, low-pressure) spray equipment. They need to be cleaned up afterwards using standard acetone based thinners.

The liquid metal may also be poured or troweled onto surface and used for cold metal casting.

Coverage Guide: About 1 metre squared per 1 kilogram depending on the absorbency and texture of the base material. The more textured the finish, the more material is required.

Drying Time: After application Metall-FX will take between one and a half to three hours to dry depending on humidity and room temperature.

Substrate: Metall-FX has excellent adhesion properties when used on most surfaces including MDF, plaster, plasterboard, glass, concrete, fiberglass, plastic, polystyrene, paper and even fabric.
Finishing: When Metall-FX is dry it will have a matt finish. This is due to oxidization that occurs after contact with the air. Lightly sand the surface to reveal the pure metal. Then polish the surface to the shine you require using standard metal polishing techniques.

Other creative processes can be applied such as acid wash, patina wash, sandblast, wire brush and machined textures. Customers are encouraged to experiment with Metall-FX for all sorts of creative metal applications.
Sealing: As with any real metal, it must to be sealed to prevent tarnishing (unless a finish that continues to patinate over time is desired). Metals may be sealed with Nano-Coating, hard wax oil, or a clear coat lacquer.

Metall-FX is between 90% and 97% pure metal, so objects coated with Metall-FX take on the colors of the ambient light that surrounds them in a way that only real metal can. It is waterproof and resistant to heat and most household chemicals. It has passed Fire Testing: Flammability, Heat Release rate (OSU) and Smoke Emission (NBS) requirements of FAR/JAR/CS 25.853(d) APP.F PI.IV(g) issued by AIM Composites Ltd tested under Federal Aviation Authority rules conducted.

Certified finish applicators

MakeItMetal’s metal veneer coating can only be applied by a certified professional. Great Lakes is the Midwest certified applicator for the product line.

Schultz says the company is three years into the training process. He first learned about the concept of using real metal veneer from a designer who came to him asking for help after the millworker she normally worked with moved.

He began researching products and discovered the distributors from MakeItMetal who convinced him that they had the right solutions, he says, adding that whenever he introduces the liquid metal veneer process to a client, the feedback is tremendously positive.


A customer, such as a cabinetmaker, can bring a cabinet or a door or panel or anything that needs to be specially finished to Great Lakes Metal – they coat it with the metal veneer and then return it. Or a designer can have the product fabricated through Hylan Design, which produces highly custom, artisan projects for residential and commercial clients, and then the Great Lakes Metal division would finish it.

The complete manufacturing process takes place in a 13,000-square-foot facility located in an industrial building in Chicago overlooking the river.

The woodworking shop features a Biesse edgebander, a Striebig vertical panel saw, an SCMI sliding table saw, a SCMI Sandya Uno single head widebelt sander, an edge sander, power tools, finishing room and more.

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About the author
Michaelle Bradford | Editor

Michaelle Bradford, CCI Media, is Editor of Closets & Organized Storage magazine and Woodworking Network editor. She has more than 20 years of experience covering the woodworking and design industry, including visits to custom cabinet shops, closet firms and design studios throughout North America. As Editor of Closets & Organized Storage magazine under the Woodworking Network brand, Michaelle’s responsibilities include writing, editing, and coordinating editorial content as well as managing annual design competitions like the Top Shelf Design Awards. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media.