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Old 8th April 2017, 09:36 AM   #1
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Default Painting - How to create a durable flat black finish

I'm currently building speakers cabinets made from MDF which are near completion so I'm starting to work through what finish I wish to put on them. They are for in home use for stereo listening.

Current thoughts are a simple flat black finish which would suit the look I'm after.

Initial research says, generally flat paint is great as hiding imperfections but not durable, collects dust and cleaning can wear its surface, thus has some challenges.

One approach considered but lengthy is;
- 1st coat, enamel based primer (which I have on hand)
- 2 coats of flat black enamel applied with roller and sanded between coats
- a final coat (or 2) of flat polyurethane clear for durability.

There's alot of steps and curing time here.
Are there easier approaches to achieve a flat durable finish?
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Old 8th April 2017, 10:41 AM   #2
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This works a treat. Hard and durable especially on MDF and chip board.
Hammerite Smooth Metal Paint Black 750ml | Metal Paints |
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Old 8th April 2017, 10:48 AM   #3
AndrewT is offline AndrewT  Scotland
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I handed over my steel speaker stands to a metal frame manufacturer.
They applied a melted plastic finish that has turned out to be pretty durable.
I think they heated the stands in an oven and then electrostatically sprayed the plastic power onto them where it melted on the hot steel surface.

Not suitable for an MDF box.
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Old 9th April 2017, 01:19 AM   #4
PRR is offline PRR  United States
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An over-kill finish would be truck bed-liner. You can throw bricks in your pickup in Florida sun and it still looks OK. With lesser abuse it should look perfect forever. There's DIY spray and Pro PaintShop versions. You might get a discount if you can leave the boxes at the painter until he has another job in the same color (usually Basic Black, but others are available).

> heated the stands in an oven and then electrostatically sprayed the plastic

"Powder Coat". New in the last decade or so; very common in the last 5 years. They clean the metal the usual ways (solvent, maybe heat), hang on a grounded rack and spray plastic powder with a charged-up gun, then put them in a hot oven so the plastic melts and sets. Done well, it withstands life under an off-road vehicle (I have also seen it peel in a few salty winters). It used to be only Gloss Black and "sorta chromey", but now there are hundreds of eye-dropping colors in the books, and ordering a sexy color is not very expensive (like custom car paint).

Last edited by PRR; 9th April 2017 at 01:41 AM.
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Old 9th April 2017, 06:58 AM   #5
AndrewT is offline AndrewT  Scotland
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Originally Posted by PRR View Post
"Powder Coat". New in the last decade or so; very common in the last 5 years. ..................
I think they were done in 1993/4 certainly before 1996 when I moved south for a moved job.
regards Andrew T.
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Old 9th April 2017, 04:09 PM   #6
russc is offline russc  England
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Powder coat has been around a while.
Not for MDF though - needs to be conductive for electrostatic attraction.

Like most finishes it doesn't like sharp edges - that would make it peel when exposed to the weather.
For outdoor use it should be applied over hot dip zinc galvanize or wet spray primer.

For MDF, as an alternative to paint how about stick-back vinyl?
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Old 9th April 2017, 04:26 PM   #7
Pano is offline Pano  United States
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I've tried flack black for the backs of my speakers. What a disaster. Looks great fresh, but as you mentioned, doesn't stay that way long. Picks up every smudge, fingerprint, dust, dirt, whatever - like a magnet. I ended up just going to semi-gloss

Very interested to see what you come up with.
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Old 9th April 2017, 06:00 PM   #8
JMFahey is offline JMFahey  Argentina
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Flat-flat black is easy to blemish because itīs kinda soft, glossy is hard but shows fingerprints, intermediate "semi glossy/satin" surface is the best of both worlds.

FWIW, paint base is usually the same, just glossy has a slower evaporating solvent so drops have time to attract each other and sort of "self level" by capillarity/surface tension, "flat" black (or any colour) has addes a small percentage of "flattening compound", usually finely ground "Industrial" Talcum or Gypsum so ther "break the surface" ; big problem is you scratch that surface (even with your nails) and partially expose talcum/gypsum grains, so surface becomes grayish instead of black or scratch becomes "polished" and slightly blacker than surroundings, in any cases scratches or bumps are way more noticeable than they should be otherwise.

I mix my own paints (for front panels, speaker frames, cbinet back panels, etc.) and found a "magic proportion" if you wish, where I add only enough "flattening compound" to regular glossy paint to turn it *slightly* dull, or "satin".
About 1/4 of the amount needed for "full dull".

Result is the best compromise.

You sometimes can find such grade of paint premixed in a can, ask store clerk for "the black satin paint used to paint trucks and such".

Hereīs a discussion on such paints and they mention a few brands and how to apply them.
Just avoid the last clearcoat some mention, because it defeats the "satin" idea, adds gloss on top.
Projects - Satin Black Paint? What's the best option??? | The H.A.M.B.

FWIW I make my own "flattening agent": just a light paste of Industrial Talcum (can use cosmetic grade of course ) mixed with some paint Thinner, make certain you have no lumps.
Add just a little and test the paint on some disposable surface.

Of curse the premixed one can be used straight, just stirr it well first because "flattening agent" (now you know what itīs made of ) sinks to the bottom of the can on storage.
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Old 10th April 2017, 05:33 PM   #9
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I recently bought a mixer from a speaker-builder who built a roadcase for it out of scrap plywood. He painted the plywood in Duratex. It looks fantastic, and hasn't chipped yet when I throw it in the back of the van.

Acry-Tech DuraTex Black 1 Quart Roller Grade Cabinet Texture Coating Kit with Textured 3" Roller
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Old 11th April 2017, 05:50 PM   #10
chrisb is offline chrisb  Canada
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FWIW, there is powder coating for MDF as well - as with metal, not something generally affordable to the DIYer
Powder Coated MDF or Wood Components
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