Lacquer is a clear or coloured wood finish which dries by its solvents evaporation. It can have any sheen level, from a ultra matte to a high gloss. It is considered more durable than shellac.
There are three different types of lacquers. The first one being Urushiol-based lacquers. This lacquer differs from the rest since it is slow drying and sets by oxidation and polymerization rather than evaporation alone. For it to set properly it requires a warm and humid climate. This lacquer produces a very hard, durable finish that is both very beautiful and resistant to water, acid, alkali, or abrasion damage.
The second type of lacquer is Nitrocellulose lacquer. It is a quick drying lacquer that contains nitrocellulose, a resin obtained from the nitration of cotton and other cellulostic materials. Nitrocellulose and other resins and plasticizers are dissolved in a solvent, and each coat of lacquer dissolves the previous layer of lacquer. The preferred method of applying this lacquer is by spraying. It produces a hard, durable finish that can be polished to a high sheen.
The third type of lacquer is an acrylic lacquer. This lacquer uses an acrylic resin and has a fast drying time. The advantage of acrylic lacquers are that they don’t need to be buffed to achieve a shine.
The advantages of lacquer are:
- Quick drying
- Dust and other impairments less likely to be embedded
- Dry finish remains hard and little oxidization occurs
- Durable and resist normal wear
- High resistances to beverages and food
- Can be used in cold temperatures
- Coat is clear and enhances natural beauty of wood
- Does not raise the grain
- Finish is easily repaired and stripped
- Easily polished
- Easily sprayed
The disadvantages of lacquer are:
- Difficult to apply with a brush, can leave lap marks
- Can not be used as a finish over varnish, oils, wax, alcohol stains
- Not recommended for outdoor use
- Not as durable as some synthetic finishes
- Excessive moisture can damage lacquer
- Poor sunlight protection
- Below average resistance to heat and chemicals