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Old 09-01-2011, 02:11 AM   #1
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Refinishing aquarium cabinet

Hi all,

I'm kind of new to DIY and need some advice. I am refinishing an aquarium cabinet/stand that came with the 55g I have. The cabinet is made of MDF. It was painted gray with black speckles on it - I guess trying to make it look like stone. So far I have sanded it and primed it and painted it two coats of eggshell wall paint. I've painted it a shade darker than the wall it will be set against. The question is do I now coat it with polyurethane to help protect the paint and make it easier to clean? I have bought a can of satin polyurethane but haven't used it now - not sure if that is what I should do.

Thanks for any advice/suggestions.
Roxi
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Old 09-01-2011, 02:21 PM   #2
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I wouldn't put any clear coat on the paint at all. Make sure to let the paint fully cure for about 48 hours or the paint can still peel up. Eggshell (assuming you mean the finish and not the color) will be fine for a stand as long as you don't let water pool for long periods of time.

Edit: also the poly might not agree with the paint but I can't say fir sure because I've never done it.
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Old 09-01-2011, 02:34 PM   #3
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Not only that, but polyurethane is very glossy. Your tank would 'shine' and it is a lot for some people. You have to make sure the paint that you used, a long with the material will hold with this. It will definitely peel up if there is a chemical reaction between the two. That also depends on how well it was primed too. When priming wood I do the following.

1) Thin layer of primer. Let it heal (recommendation time on the can/bottle)
2) Sand it down once more (not completely removing the primer, but enough to get a nice little primer/wood finish.
3) Prime again with the recommended amount, and let it heal.
4) Lay two-three coats of paint, and let it heal in between the layers. Usually stop at 2, but sometimes a third coat is required.

If you grabbed a 'matte' finish, then finger prints and oily residue will not show up as much. But photo's won't look as great either. If you throw in a glossy paint, then it will get dirtier quicker, but look shiny all the time.

I prefer a matte finish, as its just a solid color. Reflections aren't 'overly' vibrant IMO.
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Old 09-02-2011, 01:14 AM   #4
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We just refinished the stand and canopy for our 100g tank. We got it for a steal off CL because it had mold growing on the inside. We scrubbed it down, sanded all the green off, bleached it, cleaned it again, then used an outdoor mildew resistant stain and sealed it with an oil based polyurethane. It's got a nice shine to it, but nothing gaudy. We really like it. =)
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Old 09-02-2011, 02:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBeta View Post
Make sure to let the paint fully cure for about 48 hours or the paint can still peel up. Eggshell (assuming you mean the finish and not the color) will be fine for a stand as long as you don't let water pool for long periods of time.
I painted it over a year ago - just never finished - never put the hinges/door back on wondering about a clear coat, etc.. Yes,s the "eggshell" is the finish.
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Old 09-02-2011, 02:41 AM   #6
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Justin,

I inserted my comments in between yours.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KreativJustin View Post
Not only that, but polyurethane is very glossy.

The poly I bought is a "satin" finish.

You have to make sure the paint that you used, a long with the material will hold with this.

I used regular interior wall paint - Valspar from Lowes.

When priming wood I do the following.

It's MDF not wood.


1) Thin layer of primer.
2) Sand it down once more
3) Prime again
4) Lay two-three coats of paint,

It has been a long time since I did this. I know I sanded before I primed but I don't remember if I primed once or twice. I don't think I sanded after the prime, The paint is an eggshell finish and I don't remember now if i applied one or two coats. I know if I did i would have followed the paint can instructions about drying/curing. Plus, I'm slow so I probably got one coat a weekend with a week in between coats.

If you grabbed a 'matte' finish, then finger prints and oily residue will not show up as much. But photo's won't look as great either.

Right now it is a matte finish. My idea was to make the cabinet "disappear" into the background so you just focus on the tank and the fish.

I prefer a matte finish, as its just a solid color. Reflections aren't 'overly' vibrant IMO.
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Old 09-02-2011, 08:30 PM   #7
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I can only add that if you decide to go with the polyurethane, be sure it is not the type that "ambers" over time. "Ambering" is a nice way of saying that it turns yellow! Not bad over some wood stains, but pretty much horrible over everything else. I use an acrylic type of polyurethane over paint and it does a nice job. Just give it a long, long time to dry. At least a week, despite what it says on the can. Brushes used with the ambering type of poly need to be cleaned with mineral spirits, but the acrylic type is cleaned with soapy water, so that is one way to tell them apart.
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Old 09-03-2011, 12:23 AM   #8
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if you decide to go with the polyurethane, be sure it is not the type that "ambers" over time.
I use an acrylic type of polyurethane over paint and it does a nice job. Just give it a long, long time to dry. At least a week, despite what it says on the can.
the acrylic type is cleaned with soapy water, so that is one way to tell them apart.
Thanks for the advice. I just pulled out the can. It is McCloskey Heirloom Crystal Clear Polyurethane. It says Clean Air Formula, Low Odor, Low VOC, Water Clean Up.

What I'm thinking of doing is to poly the top surface where the tank is going to sit. You won't see it but it will give added protection from water. If I like the way it looks I may do the whole thing. If I don't like it I won't do any other area.
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Old 09-03-2011, 12:59 AM   #9
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Yeah, that's a good idea.

Throw up some pics when your done.
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Old 09-03-2011, 03:57 AM   #10
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Yeah, that's a good idea.

Throw up some pics when your done.
I surely will. I'm hoping I have some pictures of the cabinet before I started. I'm also going to try and find some pics this weekend of aquariums I've had in the past.
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