If you engage in the act of finishing at any kind of level, whether it’s your fulltime business or a once a year project then you understand that the proof is in the pudding when it comes to creating good finishes.
When you are spraying the goal is to be able to use whatever means at hand to get the desired result.
We are lucky to be able to work on all types of interior and exterior finishes and see how they fail, and more importantly, figure out how to fix them.
What is a finish failure?
On exterior surfaces, it is a finish that does not remain intact on the surface. Think flaking or peeling paint. Interior finishes fail in different ways, and it is usually not the fault of the product, but rather the application process.
If you are like us here at Apollo Sprayers and take finishing seriously enough to continue chasing perfection, then you might at times feel like anything short of that goal was a failure, particularly with sprayed finishes.
The Number One Cause of Finish Failure
Without a doubt, the main way that people create finish failure is by over applying finish: putting too much on at once. As products continue to move toward EPA compliance, less is more in the application of finish. Following the manufactures recommendation for the proper mil build, usually creating thinner layers to build up your finish. In spraying, we refer to the thin coat build technique as “tack coats”. It is far easier to get a thin coat of finish to adhere to a thin layer of itself than to get a heavy coat of the same finish to hang on verticals or edges.
Side Stepping Failure
Most people don’t really enjoy sanding and consider it a necessary evil at best. The hate of certain aspects of a project is usually rooted in fear. Mastery creates the confidence that eliminates fear.
Basically, finishing is different every time. You should make it the same by being regimented in your basic habits, workshop environment and processes. The best finishers are highly ritualized, almost instinctual. If something does not look or feel right, they will NOT proceed. You can tell when you get it right but you have to nail it a few times consistently first. Always make sure you practice and use storyboards to record your successes.
Here are a couple of habits to try and reinforce in your work:
Easing edges – This is where good edge hold begins. Breaking, or easing, wood edges is essential for great results, and the finish also appreciates having a bit more surface on the edge to hang onto. It is very detailed work, and must be done with precision, because those edges define the lines that your piece will take. Having a good sander, like a Surfprep palm sander with the right profile sponge will really help with easing your edges.
Working from the Edges In – When finishing with a sprayer, try focusing on the perimeter of the piece first, then blow down the middle. The finish applied to the edges first helps to frame what you will fill in the middle with. It will also keep it all wet at the same time for uniform laydown.
Sight it Down – In any phase of finishing, whether it’s removing undesired finishes, applying new finishes, or scuffing in between coats, always feel your surfaces and sight them down from different angles. It is critical to do this constantly so that if you see any issues, you can address them during the preparation process.
There is a lot to think about, especially while finishing. It is critical to make them habits, so you don’t have to think about them. It is much more fun when you can just appreciate what is happening at your fingertips.