Wood Finishing 101 – Conversion Varnishes

Conversion Varnish: These products provide outstanding durability and chemical and water resistance. This is why they have virtually taken over the cabinet industry. As mentioned, they are usually catalyzed with a strong acid catalyst which results in a “worklife”. It is recommended that only the amount that will be used in an eight-hour period be catalyzed. Beyond that, excess material should be disposed of or “decatalyzed”. They usually are quite a bit higher in solids content, 30-45% by weight so often the higher cost per gallon is offset by the need for less material. There are limitations and procedures which must be followed. They are not simple products to use and failure to adhere to the proper procedures can result in severe failures. Some of these precautions include: do not let the material, either catalyzed or uncatalyzed, come into contact with any raw iron or aluminum; the acid catalyst is very strong and should be handled accordingly, catalyst ratio must be followed exactly, and worklife limitations of the product need to be observed.


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