Woodworking Articles

What Is Lacquer & What Is It Used For? (TYPES, PROS & CONS)

Have you ever walked into an IKEA or another furniture store and seen some charming and mesmerizing pieces of wooden furniture and thought that I have to have this, but when you check the price you that it is much more expensive than you imagined.

It happens to the best of us that sometimes we look at something that we like and then we cannot get it for several reasons.

This article will discuss a very unusual step in woodworking, especially furniture-making.

The wood Finishing or wax.

Before getting done with the project, a wooden project, to be specific, you have to finish or wax the project to make it look better and more charming.

There is a finished product that we will be discussing today; this substance is one of the best in the whole woodworking market.

The Lacquer finish.

In this article, we will be talking about what is Lacquer and what is it used for? So let’s get started and see what this magnificent discovery is.


What is Lacquer? (5 types of Lacquer)

Interestingly, the substance we are talking about today is an ancient relic. However, it is considered a modern wood finish. The Lacquer is a wood finish made from resin or tree extractions.

Its most common use is to coat wood furniture, especially high-end furniture like walnut furniture or Ebony furniture; however, in some cases, another service for this finish was to apply it on the metal.

This finish is mainly applied to the high-quality houseware because, unlike the other coating that ages over time and turns yellow, the Lacquer preserves its clearness and beauty for eternity until you try to tip it off the wood.

So you can see why using this finish is better; however, what is the difference between other finishes like oil is finish and Lacquer?

Let’s find out.

Lacquer Oil finish
Everlasting Ages over time and turns the wood yellow
It is applied with a brush Spray on finish

As you can see, these two finishes are pretty different.

Using a Lacquer finish is better for the wood’s durability over time and the looks of the final product; however, when you want to coat a wooden plate with eating wood, it would be better to use the oil finish for the job.


Now let’s talk about the variant types of Lacquer finishes:

#1. Nitrocellulose


This version of Lacquer is different from the original one we talked about; in other words, as the original coating doesn’t get yellow with aging, this one does.

However, since 1920 the Nitrocellulose Lacquer has been one of the best substances to coat musical instruments like violin, piano, or guitar.

Applying this wax to light-colored woods like cherry is not the wisest move; over time, it may age and add a yellow shade to your wood’s light brown, which is unpleasant.

#2. Acrylic


The problem of getting yellow with aging got solved in the 1950s by adding a solution named synthetic acrylic polymers which prevents the finish from getting yellow.

The Acrylic Lacquer is perfect for the light-colored woods. This finish contains cellulose acetate butyrate, a chemical that makes materials more flexible, especially resin-based substances.

This solution in the finish makes it more durable against bending and cracking.

#3. Catalyzed


If it is the durability that you are looking for, the Catalyzed Lacquer should be your choice.

As the name suggests, this finish has solvents inside of it, but what does it mean?

When applying this finish to the wood, the water inside the finishing solution evaporates; however, the solvent or the Catalyzer remains in the substance making it more complex and more durable than the other variants of the Lacquer waxing.

#4. Waterborne


As the catalyzed Lacquer is the hardest waxing, if you are looking for the most environment-friendly was, you have to lean towards the waterborne wax because it is less hazardous to your skin and the environment.

#5. Urushiol Based


This one has a history of 4000 years.

Four thousand years ago, China used plant-based wax on their wooden furniture to maintain it against aging.

This substance is the same material in the Poison Ivy and oak; however, when extracted from the wax and Lacquer tree, it is harmless to humans.

Using this wax is also nature friendly and much more durable against heat and water.

These are the five types of Lacquer finishes, and you can choose one based on the work that you are doing. Remember that the Lacquer finishing is one of the most popular wood waxing methods.

Now, let’s get to the next section and see the pros and cons of using a Lacquer wax.

Pros and Cons: Lacquer

This section will discuss the pros and cons of using Lacquer wax on your wooden projects, so let’s get into it.

Pros Cons
The finishing product is rugged and durable Hard to apply the wooden projects
It doesn’t change color with aging when getting scratched, it is hard to remove them
No need to maintain it for a long time Dangerous when applying for the first time

As you can see from the chart, there are some upsides and downsides to using a Lacquer wax.

However, you have to read the article very carefully to be able to decide if this waxing method is suitable for your work or not.

Now, if you are ready, let’s conclude the article.



This article discussed axing methods that can give your wooden projects a nice and shiny look.

Then we talked about how a Lacquer wax doesn’t turn yellow by aging, so it is suitable to use on light-colored woods.

However, some variants are not exactly immune to changing color, but we listed all the different types of waxes and their specifications.

In the end, if you are wondering if using a lacquer finish is a good idea? We want to tell you that overall yes, it is a great option; however, you have to refer to your project and see if the wax is suitable for them.

In the end, we appreciate you for reading this article; if you have any other experience that you want to add to the “What is lacquer, and what is it used for?” article, you can contact us with the contact info on this website.

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