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RE: Lacquer Finishes & Alternatives11/23/19
For hardwood cabinets or table tops, is lacquer considered the best of the finishes?
Or, are there other easier finishes that will produce the same end result looking highly professional as well?
We are in the year 2019. Straight laquer was replaced by precatalyzed laquer back in the early 2000’s(?) Then conversion varnish(CV) took over in the late 2000’s(?). 2 part Urethane has always been a speciality product until 2010(?) they reformulated the toxicity, so some people use it almost exclusively.
I wrote that in order of increasing cost, durability, chemical resistance. Lacquer is at the bottom. Not a good finish for a tabletop.
Lacquer still does have its place in the finishing world as well as do all the other cross-linked or 2k products.
I'd really question that high end furniture has straight lacquer on it. Unless we are talking about the imported furniture from Viet Nam. If it's sprayed in North America, water based is climbing the charts very quickly. Lacquer is a very poor choice for kitchen cabinets and table tops, and not the greatest water resistance either. It has a very low chemical and heat resistance. I was spraying gallons of ML Campbells precat in the late 1990s. I have cold checked dining room chairs and water damaged kitchen cabinets in my home to prove it. I've never been quick to work on my own home. Finally remodeled the original 1957 bathroom! Still not completed though.
We do lots of touch up on many hi end brands of furniture and yes we see lots of NC. Yes some are switching to water, but those finishes are easy to spot.
FWIW: Most musical instrument manufacturers have moved on to 2k urethane (for non-vintage instruments).
Smaller ones still use lacquer for sure, but the larger ones do not.
The furniture industry, names like Hooker, Ethan Allan, Baker, Century, Thomasville, Henredon, etc., still use lacquer. Pianos are still being done with lacquer, and though Steinway has moved to polyester, a lacquer hand-rubbed finish is still available from them, same with Mason & Hamlin.
Currently, I do my OEM lacquer finishing using ML Campbell's DesignRClassic Furniture Lacquer. It has great flow out. It's harder and more durable than Sherwin-Williams NC lacquer. It has a silky-smooth feel and tactile properties are always important. If I'm doing a Steinway, I prefer to use the same NC lacquer that Steinway uses, sort of. Steinway uses a hot spray lacquer. The lacquer mfg will make it for me in a regualr-spray format, and they will also formulate it to be less soft and more scratch resistant than its usual mix.
dan shaf, We have a custom made NC. We worked over a year with the manufacturer to get the formula just right.