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When you start shopping for a new kitchen, or you begin looking into restoring your existing kitchen, you'll be given a range of door finishes to choose from. One of them will be a 2 pac kitchen cabinet finish. The designer or cabinet maker will say "2-pac", as if everybody knows exactly what they're talking about. Don't be embarrassed by your ignorance. Almost no one except the professional who applies a 2-pac finish knows what it is.
Without getting too technical, here's what you need to know about it.
"2-pac" or "2-pak" is short for - 2 pack. "Two packs of what?" you ask. That's where it gets a little complicated...
What is a 2-Pac Kitchen Cabinet Finish?
Most paints and clear finishes are solvent-based. The solvents, or thinners, are what enable the finish to be applied with spraying equipment. When they evaporate, the finish hardens and sticks to the surface - 2 pack finishes work differently.
A "2-pac finish" consists of two containers (packs) of liquids:
# One pack contains a resin composed of acrylic paint and melamine.
# The other pack is a hardener, Poly-isocyanate Resin.
When the two packs are mixed together, a chemical reaction occurs that causes the mix to harden. Because only a small amount of solvent is in the mix, almost nothing is lost by evaporation and the result is a thicker, harder finish.
The only disadvantages of 2-pac are all in the process of applying the finish:
# 2-pac dries slowly, so must be applied in a dust-free environment.
# Heat speeds up the drying process, so a temperature-controlled environment is ideal.
# The hardener contains isocyanate, a toxic chemical. Therefore the person who sprays a 2-pac finish must wear a special breathing
device and work in a ventilated spray booth to apply it safely.
2-pac finishes are safe after they dry, but applying them requires expertise and an expensive spray booth as well as equipment.
This is why 2-pac finishes are more expensive than others. But there's nothing else like it!
Choosing a 2-Pac Finish for Your Kitchen
2-pac paint was originally designed for the automotive industry and is still used to re-paint and repair vehicles.
When 2-pac was adopted by kitchen cabinet makers, it was because kitchen designers wanted a gleaming finish like you find on a freshly polished car. In the beginning, demand was largely for gloss white and gloss black cabinet doors, drawer fronts and exposed panels. While gloss black and white are still popular choices, they are by no means your only choices.
Today, most 2-pac cabinet doors are made by companies that specialize in making and finishing doors, drawer fronts, panels and other exposed surfaces. They offer standard ranges of door profiles, colours and gloss levels, or can mix colours to specifications.
A textured finish might be ideal for a family with young children because the low sheen, textured surface hides scratches and marks well. If you prefer a smooth finish, Satin is glossy enough to look stylish, but forgiving when scratched or marked.
The shiny finish on a Gloss door looks stunning - but finger prints, water drips and scratches stand out on the surface.
In time, you may want to renovate and change your kitchen's colour scheme.
Unlike melamine, laminate or vinyl kitchen doors, you don't need to replace doors finished with 2-pac. Here at DMS Spray Solutions we specialize in repainting 2-pac doors. This can save you thousands of dollars when you renovate your kitchen and your refinished doors will look as good as new!