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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new here, and this is my first post. I found a link to this site as a place that might be able to help.

The basic background is I'm remodeling my kitchen and have built my own kitchen cabinets. I want a painted finish on them. I originally was planning to hire-out the painting, but the quote was $4K. I've long felt the skill of spraying a good finish on my projects was one I needed, and with a budget of up to $4K to work with, now was the time to take the plunge.

But everything I've tried so far has been a complete failure.

Here is what I'm painting:
Face frames and doors with poplar rails and stiles and MDF panel inserts made in roughly a shaker style (I've added a bead detail though). All the poplar is sanded to 220 grit, and all surfaces are vacuumed and tacked prior to paint.

Here are the paints I've tried:
Zinszer 1-2-3 primer, tinted gray (recommended by Sherwin-Williams store)
Sherwin-Williams Emerald
Benjamin-Moore Advance
Benjamin-Moore Command
All of the paints are a very dark blue (Behr M500-7 Very Navy to be precise).
All paint and primer is filtered through a 190 micron cone filter prior to application.

Here are the applicators I've tried:
Graco 360 VSP
Graco X5
Professional finish short-nap roller (three different kinds...from Home Depot, S-W, and B-M)
Smooth surface foam roller
Wooster synthetic paint brush

The Graco 360 was a disaster. I got a striped finish and paint spits. Ended up returning it.

The X5 is better, but I've only gotten a good finish out of the primer so far. Every paint I've sprayed has either had trash in it, bubbles, or fisheyes.

The Emerald was also a disaster. When brushing/rolling it took four coats to get the color even close, I had brush/roller marks regardless, and the kicker was the paint never did cure (68 deg F, 45% humidity). I've got panels I painted a month ago that are still tacky. I ended up getting a refund from S-W for the Emerald.

The Advance at least cured properly, but I keep getting bubbles in the paint regardless of the applicator. The foam roller was the worst, short-nap rollers slightly better, and the X5 better yet. But still what I would call utterly unacceptable bubbles.

The Command had the worst orange peel I've ever seen when I tried to roll it with the short-nap roller Benjamin Moore recommended. It sprayed the best of anything (except the primer), but I got a lot of fisheyes.

I'm struggling here with something that really shouldn't be this complicated. The only things I can think to try are to go back to the Advance and try applying it with just a brush since it's supposed to level like an oil paint, and try the Command again and experiment with the pump pressure or maybe I still had some water in the line leftover from priming the pump that caused the fisheyes.

I'm also questioning if the X5 is the right tool for this job. It consumes about 20% of a gallon of paint every time you set it up. The nature of this job will be several small spray jobs, not one big one simply due to my space constraints. So losing that much paint with every setup is getting expensive, especially when I'm still just trying things to see what works.

I've got two dilemmas. One is what has been going wrong so far and why can I not get remotely acceptable results out of what should be premium products? I've had MUCH better luck putting wall paint on a cabinet with a foam roller in the past...it looks great, but it isn't very durable and I was looking for something better for a kitchen cabinet. The other question is what do I try next? Is there a paint that works better with the X5 than what I've got? Would an HVLP sprayer work better for what I'm trying to do, especially with the Command as that one looks promising and I've heard anecdotes of it spraying really, really well.

As a caveat, I'd REALLY rather stick with waterborne products over anything solvent based due to the lack of a "real" paint booth. Also, many of the commercial options aren't available to me as I live in a smaller town (so, for example, the local Sherwin Williams store doesn't carry Kem Aqua Plus and can't get it).
 

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First, I would switch primers - I think oil based primers are needed over bare wood to prevent bleed through of anything in the wood. After that, I think a lot of this is coming down to technique, as the very dark colors are the ones most likely to show imperfections and you have thus left yourself little to no margin for error. Have you tried thinning the paint just a touch to see if it flows better?
 

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The problem, is you thing it isnt complicated. It takes years and years to learn how to do this stuff, and most of that is learning what NOT to do, and who NOT to listen to (cough cough, SHERWIN, cough cough)

You need professional sprayers, (not a magnum) the right tip size, (usually NOT what the can recomends, btw.) the right thinning/additive, the right filtration, (I dont see how youre getting latex paints through a cone filter either....)

And most importantly the right spraying technique, which takes years to develop. These modern day waterborne cabinet paints have a very narrow window of spraying too light where it doestn coalese (probably what you're calling fisheyes, but fisheyes are actually a different thing) and too heavy where it runs and sags. even as a professional, I have a really hard time spraying advance. Ive had doors, where theres been sags, AND spots where the paint didnt coalesce....

cut your losses and hire someone good. check their references. Theres a lot of "professionals" out there that will give you a horrible job too.
 

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What tip were you using with the X5 ? One thing I learned on this forum was that the tip size typically recommended by the paint manufacturer usually is way too big for cabinet work.

I used a FFLP-310 tip with a Graco Ultra on the cabinets I built. Fortunately they were basement cabinets --- the paint finish was fine, but very clearly, I could have spend a lot more time finishing the wood behind it. BM Advance is good stuff for cabinets, but I don't think I am talented enough to spray it. I used BM Regal Select.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
What tip were you using with the X5 ? One thing I learned on this forum was that the tip size typically recommended by the paint manufacturer usually is way too big for cabinet work.
I was using a 313 tip. Looks like a 209 or 311 is also available locally, but I only have a 313 and the 515 that came with the machine.
 

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ok Taf... have a sit; this may sound harsh but is given as positive.

All that you have explained suggests operator malfunction...
that be you.

Considering the products used, a good finish should have been achieved.
'orange peel' is due to application/applicator.
possible solution... buy other additional and similar substrates.....
practice, practice, practice.

Besides possible impurities introduced into the paint,
'Fish eye' is also most often caused by the applicator due to improper prep.

probable solution... After all final sanding and cleaning of the substrate,
DO NOT TOUCH the area with anything else; Including, Do Not touch with your bare hands and fingers... (most often the cause of fish eye).

Despite the common attitude, not just anyone can properly apply finish coatings... Think of your vehicle where every tiny flaw shows. Would you paint your vehicle? Cabinet finishing is the same.

The positive of your situation is the money saved; some of it can be considered tuition for your learning.
Learn the products and learn the tools;
You can learn to do it with lotsa' practice.

Become determined; Not Impatient!
Good fortune to ya' (y)
 

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a 313 is too much. For advance, I use a 309. For heavy bodied latex, I would use a 3 or 411, but cabinet paints are thinners, so a max size of 310 or 410.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
ok Taf... have a sit; this may sound harsh but is given as positive.

All that you have explained suggests operator malfunction...
that be you.

Considering the products used, a good finish should have been achieved.
'orange peel' is due to application/applicator.
possible solution... buy other additional and similar substrates.....
practice, practice, practice.

Besides possible impurities introduced into the paint,
'Fish eye' is also most often caused by the applicator due to improper prep.

probable solution... After all final sanding and cleaning of the substrate,
DO NOT TOUCH the area with anything else; Including, Do Not touch with your bare hands and fingers... (most often the cause of fish eye).

Despite the common attitude, not just anyone can properly apply finish coatings... Think of your vehicle where every tiny flaw shows. Would you paint your vehicle? Cabinet finishing is the same.

The positive of your situation is the money saved; some of it can be considered tuition for your learning.
Learn the products and learn the tools;
You can learn to do it with lotsa' practice.

Become determined; Not Impatient!
Good fortune to ya' (y)
No worries, not taken as harsh at all. I'm just frustrated that I'm following every recommendation from both the paint and sprayer manufacturer, getting poor results, and can't find any specific information as to what EXACTLY I'm doing wrong. As an example, Benjamin Moore recommended never thinning the paint, use a .013-.017 tip, and set the pressure to 2800 psi. But earlier in this thread was a suggestion a .013 tip is too big and when I called Graco, they said 2800 psi was likely way too high and I needed to thin the paint 3-5% with water. Conflicting information like that is extremely frustrating when you're trying to learn.

The orange peel was with a roller, not a sprayer. I have absolutely rolled a glass-smooth finish before, just not with paint that was suitable for cabinets.

I actually used to work in an automotive paint shop as an engineer. I have painted test panels before just fine, I just wasn't the one who setup the equipment. So I know what proper application technique is, what I don't know is how to get viscosity right, and how to setup the equipment (the spray equipment was already setup whenever I used it, plus automotive sprayers are very different from trying to spray interior paint). And yes, I'm well aware to never touch a surface you are painting once it is prepped.

But even then, my issue right now isn't blemishes that could be attributed to fingerprints, its a shotgun pattern of...I think I'm going to go with "dimples," craters or fisheyes isn't quite the right word. Here is what it actually looks like (the picture makes the surface finish look much worse than it is. The overall finish is quite acceptable, it's just the dimples that are the problem):

Rectangle Asphalt Sky Cloud Astronomical object

I don't really mind that I'm at the bottom of the learning curve. I'm OK with that and understand it. What is driving me bananas is the lack of available information re. if you have problem X, then here are the most likely causes and solutions. And in the rare instances where I can find a cause/solution, it's either utterly impractical (like, control the humidity when there is no shortage of evidence of people spraying in garages, basements, and backyards without any issue), or something I know isn't the problem (like surface contamination).
 

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hmmmm, interesting.

Welp! now we know your experience. Good !

As you've probably noticed, airless spraying is considerably different than
HVLP spraying.

ex. Automotive finishes require very specific reducers to maintain durability and improve application viscosity and surface flow/adhesion among other reasons.

Architectural oils, likewise.

Modern Acrylic Latex paints, in general, do not require such.
What it does need is filtering because oft times the pigments are not finely ground.

Filter: depending on the brand, filtering more than once might be needed.
As you can see, there are different sizes. They can be cleaned and reused by immediately dropping the filter in clean water after use. But buy several.

Plastic Fashion accessory Electric blue Circle Transparency


Caveat: Never, in cabinet finishing, dilute with water. Use a product specifically designed for latex paint. Some don't care for this product, but I've always had good results when wanting to improve the surface flow of acrylic latex coatings.
It works with hand or spray applications. Follow the directions.

Floetrol® Latex-Based Paint Additive

The "dimples" you show are generally caused by material flow and/or the applicator release of the material (roller). One affects the other.

Many recommendations are based upon personal experience of the painter. Ex., I will not for any reason use Sherwin Williams based upon personal experience; Others have differing opinions.

Therein lies your challenge. Product knowledge which comes from experience.

What may help your learning curve...
Go to the brand web page and find the technical sheets and the MSDS;
They can give you a knowledge basis.
It appears you have enough prep awareness; all that remains is product knowledge.

Here's a suggestion. You have plenty of tuition funds available.
Buy some waste 1x12 .. cut in 2' lengths and practice with the material and tools.

Enjoy the learning curve, it's an adventure. Laugh at your yourself, it will make great stories.

OH! a spraying tip.... different than HVLP... Do NOT release the gun trigger until past the coated surface...
Also.. best/easiest to apply the finish to a horizontal surface. Spray or hand work.

Hope this gives a bit of help.

Hang in there. You'll get it right.

I check in here a couple times a day; If I can add to your confusion, lemme' know 😀

Thom
 

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Floetrol isnt compatible with most newer cabinet paints, especially hybrids like advance. BM, XIM or Sunnyside Extender is a superior product. It will actually thin the paint a little though, so you have to be more careful about runs and sags.
 

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Floetrol isnt compatible with most newer cabinet paints, especially hybrids like advance. BM, XIM or Sunnyside Extender is a superior product. It will actually thin the paint a little though, so you have to be more careful about runs and sags.
New info to me... I am curious
Now, I must buy S-W, a brand I never buy, just to play and experiment.

Thanks for the info ! (y)
 

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I was using a 313 tip. Looks like a 209 or 311 is also available locally, but I only have a 313 and the 515 that came with the machine.
For airless using BM Command or SW Emerald Urethane, go with a Graco Fine Finish Low Pressure RAC X FF LP SwitchTip, 310. A FFLP 308 might be even better. The FFLP tips are much better for cabinetry, trim, doors, etc. The 313 will give orange peel. On the product waste side, you can drain your hose and reuse the excess. The FFLP tips need the blue RAC X guard.

For HVLP, I’ve used a four stage with a 1.6 tip using Sherwin Williams Kem Aqua Plus. If you are going HVLP, using 3M PPS is worthwhile. Note that Kem Aqua Plus is thin, so I’d recommend spraying the doors placed horizontally.

in either case, use the recommended primer. The sanding will be better as will the adhesion.
 
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