The search for the perfect waterborne cabinet paint is over!
In the search for a better cabinet grade waterborne finish, my company, JHC, recently started using SW Kem Aqua Plus. Its rare that I get excited about a new coating like this, but I am very pleased with the results we have been getting with this paint. Kem Aqua Plus is a waterborne pigmented lacquer finish system designed to be used for interior furniture, cabinetry and architectural mill work. It forms a very hard durable finish suitable for frequent traffic use on woodwork where a high performance coating is required and traditionally a solvent borne coating is used.
Being able to use a waterborne finish is much safer from not only a environmental standpoint, but it also negates explosion hazards as well. This is especially a concern when site finishing where certain things are out of the contractors control, or the home is occupied.
Directly from the Sherwin Williams PDS that can be found here:
• Meets Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA) over Sher-Wood® Kem Aqua® Plus Surfacer.
• Excellent mar resistance.
• Better resistance to microfoaming than other latex coatings.
• Excellent hardness, block resistance and print resistance.
• Good flow and leveling.
• Good flexibility – passes 20 KCMA Cold Check cycles.
• Very good resistance to yellowing.
• Very low VOC* – < 2 lb/gal.
Kem Aqua Plus is not for the novice
Our experiences with Kem Aqua Plus started three months ago when our Sherwin Williams rep suggested it for our cabinetry painting. This coating has a learning curve that I would consider fairly high. It is a very thin coating in comparison to the heavy bodied acrylics many contractors are accustomed to. Sags and runs can occur, and application techniques may need to be adjusted to achieve the desired finish. This is a spray only coating so touch ups must be sprayed as well. Its quick cure to sand time however makes repairs easy. Air movement will dramatically improve dry time, and you can sand any mistakes or blemishes and recoat in about an hour when direct air flow from a fan is applied. Another advantage of the quick cure time is odor control. You can feel comfortable spraying this coating in an occupied home where air quality must always be a concern. The smell dissipates very quickly, leaving only faint paint odors remaining.
Pigmented wb lacquers have traditionally had a major drawback- micro foaming. It is best described as tiny bubbles that can become trapped in the film if it begins to cure before they dissipate. Without the use of an approved retarded this is assured to happen, and require sanding and re coating. SW recommends Butyl Cellosolve R6 K25 for a retarder at a ratio of no more than 5%. Micro foaming occurs very easily with vigorous agitation and high pressures found in airless or air assisted spray systems. While Kem Aqua Plus is resistant to micro foaming, it is not immune to this negative characteristic. Most all micro foaming can be avoided by using hvlp systems for application, and proper reduction.
Primed for Success
Kem Aqua Plus Surfacer will be my next article so stay tuned. We really love this primer, and I think contractors especially those in new construction will appreciate the performance and capabilities of this coating for interior millwork.
Our results using this system for cabinet grade finishes has been phenomenal as you can see below.