Buckling walnut veneer

SiloxaneFebruary 10, 2014

Hello-
Our kitchen in Colorado is only 4 months old and our walnut is already buckling. Our cabinet maker says he will correct the situation, even if he has to entirely redo the entire kitchen (it's perfectly bookmatched throughout the entire room). Does this look like it can be repaired, or will we have to rip it out and start over? I know he is bringing the product vendor where he sourced the veneer over soon to come up with options.

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Siloxane

Another shot of a 9' hanging shelf in our mid-century kitchen.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 4:51PM
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CEFreeman

I can't see the buckling, but I do know if it's a bubble, repair is iffy at best. If it were peeling, that's another, somewhat easier story.

This is sad, it's so beautiful!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 4:59PM
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live_wire_oak

Are you using a humidifier in the home? It's been an awfully cold and dry winter. What's your RH in the home?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 5:16PM
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Siloxane

No humidifier. We will have a swamp cooler in the summer, but for now, it's dry. I also have radiant (fin) heat under my quarter sawn oak, and that's holding up ok (with a few gaps here and there, which I expected).

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 5:46PM
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Trebruchet

Siloxane:

He needs to speak with the adhesive vendor more than the veneer vendor.

Ralph Wilson Plastics made a contact cement called "blue glue" many years ago. It held for the first few years, then there were massive failures. Fabricators saw about .33 cents on the dollar in the subsequent secret settlement.

I'd try a repair before remaking the doors.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 5:53PM
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nightowlrn

I don't know where you are in CO. We lived in Denver and the humidify ran constantly in the winter. It is very dry there.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 5:55PM
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ajc71

I don't think it is a humidity thing due to the house conditions....and I also don't think that it can be fixed, it will have to be replaced (in my opinion)

I have seen this a couple times before and based on my previous experience it could be:

If it is was a paperbacked veneer (meaning they glued the walnut veneer to a paper backer before applying it to the MDF or flakeboard) there is a possibility that the bond between the paper and the veneer is bad

The cabinetmaker used a contact adhesive instead of a resin glue and as the veneer is trying to move with the climate the contact cement is causing a problem

When the veneer was pressed it was pressed at too high of a temperature and forced the moisture out of the veneer and made it too dry

Very unfortunate, but great to hear that he is willing to make it right....you may want to ask what his veneering method is and post back, I have a little experience in veneering!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 5:57PM
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Siloxane

Very good feedback, thank all of you! He said we have three platforms that this is glued on- and you can tell that it is reacting to the MDF, and not the other substrates. I do believe the adhesive and finish guy is coming to look at it too. I will keep you posted!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 11:38AM
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live_wire_oak

With the added info, I'd bet it's the glue. MDF is the preferred substrate for veneer application. If he used one of the newer water soluble glues, that might be the issue.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 11:46AM
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Linelle

Is this type of veneer typical for walnut cabinets?

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 12:22PM
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Siloxane

Hello all,
He had his finisher look at the "eruptions" and it sounds like there is no way to repair it. So an entire redo of the kitchen. He is talking about a "formica backed" walnut veneer, and realizes there are some drawbacks to that; said he'd make absolutely sure there are no "formica" edges showing. He is truly an artist, but I'm nervious about this idea. I am thinking of bailing entirely on the walnut and going with a grey thermafoil.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 4:22PM
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Siloxane

And it's a a ton of cabinets. Poor guy.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 4:23PM
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Siloxane

More.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 4:26PM
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Linelle

What a shame. At 16:22, they look luscious.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 4:33PM
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ajc71

Such a nice job with the matching...he is obviously a craftsman.

He could use a formica backed veneer and you would never know...assuming that he is going to apply a edgeband after he veneers the faces...obviously I would suggest that you request a sample to sign off on

Did he have any reasons what caused the problem?

Would be a shame to go with foil after seeing the beautiful walnut!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 5:33PM
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GauchoGordo1993

Seems like we're reinventing the wheel here. I'm no expert on veneering, but I know that Scherr's and Semihandmade have done hundreds of jobs like this (bookmatched walnut veneer on MDF) and I've not seen any reports of delamination like you're seeing. So I can't help but think that your cabinet maker is doing something wrong. My money is on the glue.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 5:46PM
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Trebruchet

"...He could use a formica backed veneer and you would never know...assuming that he is going to apply a edgeband after he veneers the faces.."

Actually this is the exact opposite order. The doors get the backs applied (if any), edgebanded, then the fronts applied. This makes the edge seams face up, down, and to the sides which is much more inconspicuous than out toward the front.

The "Formica" backed veneer is probably phenolic. It is highly dimensionally stable and would be very inconspicuous especially on a walnut or other dark veneer. I built bubinga slab doors with this "Formica" backed veneer, adhered it with contact cement to particleboard, and it didn't budge in over a decade.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 5:59PM
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Zivman

maybe I am being ignorant but is the veneer 'that' much cheaper? I am having my kitchen redone with lowers in actual walnut and it wasn't much of a cost premium

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 9:42PM
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PRO
Sophie Wheeler

Veneer IS ''actual walnut''. It's the ONLY way to get that gorgeous bookmatching shown.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 10:13PM
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Zivman

mdf base is not "real walnut"... but I understand the bookmatching

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 10:19PM
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jerzeegirl

Real walnut (or any wood) can warp or bow from changes in humidity. Depending on size and style (slab), the door or drawer front might need battens to prevent it from warping. MDF does not have that problem. It doesn't warp or bow which is why in humid climates MDF covered in veneer might be a better choice.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 10:47PM
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Fori is not pleased

This veneer is probably more expensive than solid walnut. And it's also walnut.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 11:24PM
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ajc71

"Actually this is the exact opposite order. The doors get the backs applied (if any), edgebanded, then the fronts applied. This makes the edge seams face up, down, and to the sides which is much more inconspicuous than out toward the front."

I am assuming (hoping) that the cabinetmaker would not make these as if he was making a laminate door....I would think he would press the phenolic backed veneer on both sides of a piece of MDF using a PVA or Resin style glue and then apply banding that was either a 2MM or 3MM solid walnut...same as a Boffi, Pogenpohl etc...

"This veneer is probably more expensive than solid walnut. And it's also walnut."

No doubt the veneer is more expensive, and the only way to accomplish the look that the OP was going for...

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 7:59AM
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Siloxane

Fantastic information from all of you. It gives me even more confidence in our cabinet maker- he has gone over all these points with us. The guy just moved to Denver from Florida- he may not be used to the dry climate. This is the first time this has happened to him, as I understand.

Cost was not the issue in selecting veneer. I threw the checkbook at this kitchen. Solid walnut was cheaper, and not an option due to dryness and potential to warp.

And thank you all for reminding me not to go with a thermafoil. It would be a shame.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 10:39AM
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sombreuil_mongrel

This looks like what happens when the substrate shrinks and the veneer doesn't. Making the veneer more rigid (over a phenolic backing) is not necessarily going to be any better if the substrate shrinks and expands at a different rate. Seems like the moisture content of the substrate was too high when it was veneered, and now with dewpoints in the negative degrees, it has shrunk and the veneer has not.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 11:12AM
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akshars_mom

Siloxane, Sorry about the issues with your cabinets. I have nothing to add on the cabinet issue but wanted to let you know that your kitchen is lovely.

I am not a modern kitchen person but yours is just beautiful. Love you back splash also. Is it a glass tile?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 1:18PM
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Siloxane

Oh thank you Akshars! Yes, Ann Sacks lucian. It was supposed to be white. I knew it would take a blue hue, but not that much. But it's pretty, and very cleanable! My whole house was redone and is modern, but a toned-down modern, lol. We gutted the whole house.

http://midcenturymess.wordpress.com/

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 4:38PM
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kompy

By all means, keep the walnut...it's gorgeous!

Solid walnut would still be prettier than foil....so I would do that before I'd switch to a foil! The veneers do give it that beautiful exotic pattern that solid walnut can't match, but I'd give up the veneer bookmatching before I'd go to a foil.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 5:14PM
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akshars_mom

Thanks for sharing the info about the tiles and also sharing more pictures of your house. It is beautiful and love all te green spaces outside the house. I think that helps soften the modern look also.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 5:28PM
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Trebruchet

"Making the veneer more rigid (over a phenolic backing) is not necessarily going to be any better if the substrate shrinks and expands at a different rate."

The dimensional stability of the phenolic backing is the reason for its use. The veneer isn't going to delaminate from the phenolic and the phenolic isn't going to delaminate from the MDF.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 6:15PM
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CEFreeman

You have a lovely home.

I'll bet the cabinet maker was sad and sick about the veneer. I'm glad you're going to stay with the walnut. I cannot imagine how dissatisfied you'd be with some boring thermofoil. This walnut has such movement and warmth, I think you'd always wish...

I look forward to seeing it again - or at least hearing how well it turned out.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 6:31PM
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sombreuil_mongrel

The backing on the backed veneer I have used is measured in microns, unless they changed it, it isn't gonna resist movement any more than plain paper backing. Got to go back to old-style hammer veneering with hot hide glue over a quartersawn lumber core; if it was good enough for thos. chippendale...
Casey

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 6:35PM
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Trebruchet

"Use it (phenolic) when extra durability and stability are factors."

Here is a link that might be useful: Phenolic

This post was edited by Trebruchet on Fri, Feb 14, 14 at 8:34

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 8:33AM
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jerzeegirl

sombreuil mongrel: what thickness of veneer have you used? Is it thin enough to be wrapped around a 90 deg. corner?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 9:35AM
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Siloxane

Another question for you experts...we will be receiving samples of the other product we are going to try and he says it should look the same. My cabinets are certainly beautiful, but they have taken on what I feel is an "orange" hue. This may be because of how the walnut plays off the unfinished (oiled) floors, etc, but I was really going for a darker "black walnut" look.

He says there is no stain, only a top finish, and that walnut is a natural product which will look however it looks (darker, lighter, etc). But I wonder if his top coat (poly) can be attributing to this orange hue. If so, do you recommend anything else to try to tone this down on our next set of veneers? Could we just oil the veneer?

(BTW, the final result from the manufacturer is that it is temperature caused. Glues, finishes, and substrates were all correct. We have a fireplace in that room which is probably the culprit)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 1:50PM
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snookums2

Since when does a fireplace cause veneers to fail, or deteriorate so quickly? Most of today's furniture is made with veneers.

What manufacturer is determining this? I thought you had a custom cabinet maker craft these.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 2:21PM
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Siloxane

That's what the cabinet maker said- its ridiculous to assume that there will be no temp fluctuations in a home.

The cabinet maker is referring to the manufacturer of the walnut veneer, where he purchased the product he used. He's been using this for years (in Florida). He consulted them for reasons regarding why it erupted.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 2:55PM
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chiefneil

Buckling is from expansion, which is caused by increased humidity (typically for several days to weeks) compared to when the glue was applied. It seems unlikely that a fireplace would be the culprit, more likely a seasonal change from summer to winter. But you normally expect a substrate such as MDF to be very stable regardless of humidity swings. The whole thing is kind of curious and I can understand why your cabinet maker is scratching his head over it.

Anyway, to answer jerzeegirl's question - veneer doesn't curve or bend easily. It is possible to get it to curve but usually a lot of care and special handling is required, such as steam or other wetting agent, then a vacuum box or special jig for keeping pressure applied while the glue cures. You normally wouldn't veneer a sharp 90 degree bend with a single continuous piece of veneer. A better solution would be two pieces applied to each face, or better yet some form of solid edge-banding depending on the application.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 3:27PM
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