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Old 10-27-2011, 04:46 PM   #1
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Adequate ventilation and returning to non-flammable status


I know that pre-conditioner and laquer fumes are highly flammable. . . and I have my area set up to be fully vented (air forced into the room - and out all windows/screen doors with individual fans in each) - of course I'm also removing all containers and rags/brushes from the room after use, as well.

But odor - of course - persists for quite a time after treating/laquering.

So - at what point are the fumes no longer flammable or even just toxic in the air? I have to time things so the house is safe for the kids to return home to while doing the finish on the cabinets - a few hours (2 or 3) or more (4 or 5)?

I don't want to test with a lit-match or something, you know.

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Old 10-27-2011, 07:38 PM   #2
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Adequate ventilation and returning to non-flammable status


Hiya Snav...

This is a toughie...and it'd be almost impossible to give a definitive answer. You're right, lacquer fumes are toxic and flammable - and, of course, even more so when heavily concentrated. It obviously is necessary to create air movement due to the fact that these fumes are heavier than air and, without proper ventilation, can linger for quite a long time. Be careful with the fans you employ though. If you're working in an enclosed area, you'll want to make sure your fans are explosion proof (I know, that sounds kinda dramatic, but with an explosion proof motor the electrical arc is contained within the housing).

Unfortunately, the smell test is probably as reliable as you're gonna get...If the fumes are still strong enough to make your eyes water, you need more ventilation... Always wear a respirator when spraying - Without one, you'd be surprised how quickly your body become "desensitized" to the fumes - once your eyes don't burn and you no longer get headaches from these fumes, you'll no longer be able to determine if it's safe enough to light a cigarette or fire up a blow torch in the middle of your shop without blasting yourself off into infinity and beyond.

I'm new here to this site and I don't know many of you very well so I don't know what you know and don't know about products - but if you've worked with (solvent-borne) lacquers before, you know a lacquer finish has a pretty distinct smell that can last several days after application - while I wouldn't recommend sitting around and sniffing a freshly lacquered cabinet for hours on end, I do believe the toxicity of the finish has diminished equally with the flammability, although some people have a sensitivity to these odors...

I'm pretty sure I didn't really answer your question, but without employing some pretty expensive air quality measuring devices, I really don't know of a better answer.

Ric

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Old 10-27-2011, 08:41 PM   #3
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Adequate ventilation and returning to non-flammable status


Snav,
ditto on the explosion-proof fans (i.e. "intrinsically safe"). Most fans people have in their homes are not. I was a career firefighter before I retired. I distinctly remember a fire one sunny afternoon. Painters had refinished a walnut library on the front of a house and just got done spraying lacquer for the finish. They had a box fan in one of the window going when the room exploded. It lit up the front of the house pretty good. Painters had some minor burns. Room was totalled, front of the house had some heavy damage. Spraying lacquer in a house is a crap shoot. I would turn off all ignition sources, (hot water tank pilot, furnace pilot, etc.) If you are friends with any of the local fireman, you might be able to borrow an ex. proof fan from them. Be careful.
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Old 10-27-2011, 09:21 PM   #4
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Adequate ventilation and returning to non-flammable status


Per the hot water heater - ours is electric. . . is that a concern or is that issue only regarding gas (which we have none of in our home)?

Two of my fans are PMX brand like this but I have one that is a blower fan like this one

How can I figure out if these are safe? I'm imagining a box-fan design and I think the PMX ones are not safe since the motor is housed in the back - somewhat exposed. But the blower fan - maybe?

(edit: I just read the user manual for my blower-fan and it's not safe for use in areas with flammable chemicals - so that's a no for that one, too)

I might just get a vent-system or at least a safe fan to use . . . but if I Lacquer I have several layers to do and this will likely spread out over the next two weeks - shoot - I might just not do lacquer at all. Some other options I guess are Tung Oil and Finishing wax - this 2nd one would buff in but dry hard.

I don't know - what would you guys do?
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Old 10-27-2011, 09:42 PM   #5
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Adequate ventilation and returning to non-flammable status


Snav- These guys are talking about spraying - which puts WAY more chemical in the air than just the drying process if you are brushing.What exactly is the product you are using ? I have brushed varnishes , and while it can get a bit heady- with good ventilation it is not a serious hazard- but it will be noticible for some time.

If you are brushing- i'd be surprised if you are actually using lacquer. Lacquer dries to quick to brush.
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Old 10-27-2011, 09:57 PM   #6
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Adequate ventilation and returning to non-flammable status


Yeah - I'm rethinking the lacquer . . . I've worked with it before and know I can achieve a nice finish on small items but today doing the conditioning and staining on the cabinets the awkward angles (etc) slowed me down and hindered any hopes for quicker progress - add to that the potential hazards of lacquer and I'm rethinking it completely.

But regardless of what I finally go with I won't be spraying anything - I'll be brushing or rubbing in.
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Old 10-27-2011, 10:04 PM   #7
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Adequate ventilation and returning to non-flammable status


I just reread your original post and am wondering what exactly you are finishing, wood trim, cabinets, etc. I have sprayed varnish with good results. Varnish is not nearly as flammable as lacquer, different solvent bases. I have sprayed varnish in basements with just opening the basement windows, turning off any gas pilots down there, and making sure the furnace is shut off. Two reasons, don't want the furnace pushing the smell all through the house, and don't want any dust settling in the finish from the furnace moving it around. The varnish odor goes away quickly, not as pungeunt as the lacquer. It would take me less than 45 minutes to shoot a coat throughout a basement full of casing, base, and a half dozen six panel oak doors. 0000 steel wool in between coats, shop vac with a brush and tack rag everything. Very quick and nice finish.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you don't have to shoot lacquer inside, don't.
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Old 10-27-2011, 10:29 PM   #8
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Adequate ventilation and returning to non-flammable status


Sorry - I'm doing my kitchen cabinets. Link to thread about it is here

How does spraying go (varnish or poly)? I've never sprayed anything of this nature - is it easy or finicky? I imagine it would make it faster - shortening the inconvenience that would come with a longer-lasting brushing process.

The original reason why I chose lacquer is because of it's durability and resistance to stains.

My husband said I'm being overly cautious and paranoid and I should just pick something and go with it.
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Old 10-27-2011, 10:47 PM   #9
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Adequate ventilation and returning to non-flammable status


Spraying cabs is difficult- takes a lot of experience to do well. Not a place to start.

A good poly finish - I personally like Zar Poly satin, is standard for on site cab finishing. Brushes out nice.
Prefinished cabs will be lacquer , but they will be done in a very controlled environment.
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Old 10-31-2011, 08:08 PM   #10
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Adequate ventilation and returning to non-flammable status


Hey Snav,

I gotta agree with BJ on this one - cabinets can be a little tricky to spray...couple that with the fact that varnishes (and polys) can also be a little difficult to spray, I think I'd stay with a brush on polyurethane for your cabinets. And besides, in terms of scratch and stain resistance, and just plain durability, polys have all the advantages over most lacquers. Good luck, and let us know how they turn out.
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Old 10-31-2011, 11:22 PM   #11
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Adequate ventilation and returning to non-flammable status


I went ahead and bought a utility fan that's made for ventilating rooms - it has a hosing attachment. I'd say it does an adequate job - within an hour of applying most odor dissipates. At first I didn't want to spring the money for it - but there have been so many times in the past where it would have been ideal so it's not like it'll be a waste.

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