“Can you Touch up the Finish on that Door…”

How things are done series

Such a small request, right?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

The reality is that all finishes are different, some are easy to touch up, others are nearly impossible so at times you are best off living with imperfection.

Some finishes are like paint, easy to touch up, the fixed door matches perfectly.  You have an impervious base like MDF or veneer, no grain showing through, so you just scrub the door down a bit with sandpaper and re shoot the color coat, allow it to dry, sand, then shoot it with sealer, a bit of glaze if needed, and a top coat of pre cat lacquer.  But this needs done fairly quickly after the set of cabinets has been painted because paint settles out a bit after a few weeks. 

Other finishes such as a simple stain, sealer, and top coat on natural wood is also easy to touch up.  Especially if it is an oil based stain that doesn’t dissolve the sealer and top coat when you touch up the defect or damage.  The down side is that oil based stains aren’t used much because they create fire hazards in finishing shops, the rags can self combust, the overspray requires a lot of clean up and resulting wasted solvents and cleaning rags.  Lacquer based stains hit the floor as powder and can be swept up with the other overspray and recycled into low quality paint.

Learn more Here at this link

Finishes are either Simple or Complex

  • Simple finishes have a small number of layers
  • Complex finishes have many layers and are harder to replicate or repair
  • Glazes depend upon grain, cracks, or crevices
  • Sometimes that slight imperfection will require a new door to fix


The toughest touch ups are the glazed natural wood jobs where the grain has been filled with several layers of paint or sealers, filling them in and making it harder for the glaze to catch hold.  Repairing some finishes requires stripping the old finish but even after stripping much of the grain is going to be plugged so the glaze coat is likely to not catch like the original finish.

One thing that I am sure of after decades of cabinet building, God hates perfection. It is not uncommon to have that one door that just refuses to finish perfectly and there is a limit as to how many coats can be sprayed on most cabinet parts before problems come up.

In the end sometimes it is better to live with that one door that isn’t quite perfect rather than attempt to touch it up and make it more noticeable.   But if you are picky be sure and point out these small things during the post finishing inspection when the spray guns are still set up and the materials are fresh to make touch up easier.


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