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.

Brushing lacquerThe 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

Spraying lacquer



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


To learn how to apply lacquer click here.