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Modern lacquers are a range of solvent based clear or coloured finishes, that give a hard and durable finish. Lacquer finishes can be of any sheen, from a matt to a high gloss, and can be further burnished to give a 'wet' look finish as used, for example, in the car industry, for wooden dash boards, or a “piano finish”, as used on pianos, snooker tables and fine furniture.
Example of a lacquered oak dining set.
Lacquer can be applied by brush, or sprayed on. We generally prefer to use the spray method as we feel this gives a much better finish. Several coats of lacquer are applied, and sanded with 320 grit sandpaper between coats. A minimum of three coats are required to give the desired depth of finish.
If a colour is required, it is generally better to stain the item of furniture before applying a clear lacquer, to form a protective layer over the stain. The alternative method of using a coloured lacquer, without first using a stain, can prove to be a test of your skill with a spay gun, as it takes years of practice to achieve a perfectly even coat with a coloured lacquer. Lacquer finishes are usually applied professionally, and are generally not suitable for DIY use.
Lacquers offer an excellent moisture barrier to protect your furniture, along with effective stain and spillage protection. Most spills can simply be wiped off without much fuss, providing the spill is not allowed to stand for to long. But beware of solvent based products such as nail varnish remover, which will remove the lacquer finish.
Lacquer finishes are less prone to scratching than a wax finish, but it is not scratch proof, so care should be taken with any wood furniture, no matter what finish is applied.