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Finishing Materials

What is a finish? How to prepare for a finish? How to apply a finish? Finishes for wood, plastic and metal.

Rebecca Spender

on 10 January 2015

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Transcript of Finishing Materials


The term ‘finish’ describes the treatment of the surface of the material eg. painting, varnishing.
There are three reasons for finishing a material
protect from weathering / decay
protect from scratches
improve the appearance
Different materials and situations require different finishes. There are lots of choices on the market so you need to be as precise as possible in naming the finish!
What is a finish?
Tend to be clear (matt, satin, gloss) but can be coloured - grain of the wood shows through
tough, hard-wearing, waterproof when dry, water-based (easier to clean brushes)

long drying time (8 hours for less modern types), do not penetrate surface of wood so can flake
polyurethane varnish:
what is varnish?
Multiple coats applied with brush or spray (up to 6)
Rubbed down between coats with fine grade of glass paper.
very hard-wearing (does not flake), scratch resistant, UV filters, high gloss

Marine / Yacht varnish:
Protective coloured layer.
Apply a coat of primer to seal the wood, then an undercoat, then a gloss (final) coat.
what is paint?
Rubbed down between coats with fine grade of glass paper.
cheap, can be applied quickly with brush or roller, water-based

not very durable
Emulsion paint:
tough, hard-wearing and weatherproof

takes a long time to dry, oil-based
Oil-based paint
quick-drying and does not need an undercoat
Acrylic paint:
Natural finish.
Prevent wood from drying out.
Shows off the grain.
what are oils?
Apply with a rag or brush, with the grain.
Colourless and odourless so good for kitchenware
Teak oil
Olive oil
Danish oil
Used on furniture
Do not protect the wood.
Shows off the grain.
Changes the colour of the wood so looks more expensive
what are stains?
Hard to apply evenly.
Hard to match colours.
Shows off the grain.
Can be used to seal the grain.
examples: French Polish
what are polishes?
Dull gloss shine.
Can be applied directly onto bare wood or wood sealed with French Polish.
wax polish
Penetrate deeply into the wood to protect against fungus, insects or weather.
Lots of colours.
what are preservatives?
Does not require any paint / varnish
self finishing
self colouring
Already the colour you want
Wet and dry (silicon carbide) paper can be used to remove scratches. Start with a coarse paper and finish with a fine paper eg. 120 -> 600
The buffing wheel (soft calico fabric mop) is used to give a shine to the smooth surface.
Polishing compound eg. Vonax can be used
Protective coloured layer.
Apply a coat of primer to help the next coat stick, then an undercoat, then a gloss (final) coat.
what is paint?
Rubbed down between coats with fine grade of glass paper.
primer and undercoat in one
dries quickly

not very durable - flaking allows rust to form leading to further damage
Acrylic paints
primer, undercoat and top coat in one
dries quickly
highly protective

more expensive
limited colours
Protecting the metal with a thin film of another metal.
It is electrically fused to the surface.
More resistant to chemical attack
what is electroplating
bath taps, bike parts
Similar to electoplating but no extra metal is used.
Aluminium develops a thin film of oxide which can be thickened using electricity.
Forms a tough, protective layer.
Colours can be added.
eg. iPod nano
what is anodising?
A layer of plastic covers the metal eg. fridge shelves, plier handles
The dip coating process ensures the layer is uniform and picks up all the details.
The metal is heated, then plunged into a tank of fluidised polythene powder. The powder behaves like liquid and sticks evenly to the metal.
what is dip coating?
Non-ferrous metals do not need protecting from rust. Polishing shows off the natural colour of the metal.
To prevent tarnishing, a highly polished piece of metal may be sprayed or painted with a clear lacquer.
why polish?
Chromium plating
Preparing for a finish
The surface must be smooth:
metal - file, emery cloth / wet and dry
wood -
small - glasspaper with sanding block, used along the grain
larger - electric orbital or belt sander
In all kinds of sanding work with coarse paper up to finer paper.
The surface must be clean:
metal - degreased using paraffin or white spirit
wood - wipe with a damp cloth
Applying a finish
A brush or a spray can be used for most finishes:
Ensure it is clean
Apply brushstrokes in the same direction
Clean brush immediately (oil-based requires white spirit)
If further coats are required, rub down lightly with glass paper to 1) create a smoother finish 2) key the surface to improve adhesion
quick, no special equipment needed
Use a well ventilated area and wear a breathing mask
Aim to apply several thin coats instead of one thick coat. This avoids runs.
more consistent, even finish
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