Difference between lacquer & varnish


1. Lacquer and varnish are popular coatings used to protect and enhance the appearance of wood and other surfaces.
2. Lacquer is a transparent coating made from a solvent-based hard finish, while varnish is a protective transparent covering made from resin and oil.
3. Lacquer is quick-drying and can be applied by spraying, while varnish is applied using a brush and can produce different finishes like semi-gloss and satin.


Lacquer and varnish are glossy coatings that are commonly used to protect and enhance the appearance of wooden furniture. While they have many similarities, there are also some important differences between the two. In this article, we will discuss these differences to help you make an informed decision when choosing a finish for your furniture.


Lacquer is a transparent, solvent-based coating that can be applied to both wood and metallic surfaces. It is known for its durability and ability to provide a shiny, glossy finish. Lacquer contains shellac mixed with alcohol, which gives it its transparent and shiny properties. The presence of plasticizers also makes it a hard and durable coating that protects furniture from scratches and damage caused by the elements or accidents. Lacquer can be applied with a brush or by spraying it onto the surface of the wood. It typically only requires one coat to achieve a glossy finish.


Varnish is another type of protective coating that is applied to wood to provide a glossy finish and protect against damage from weather and other factors. It is made from resins and oil mixed with a thinner or solvent. Varnish is applied as a liquid and dries quickly to leave a transparent, glossy film on the surface of the furniture. Similar to lacquer, varnish protects against UV rays, rain, snow, spills, scratches, and chemicals. While varnish typically produces a glossy finish, it is also possible to add flattening agents to create a satin or semi-gloss finish.

Lacquer vs Varnish

1. Ingredients and Manufacturing: Lacquer is made from dissolving cotton and nitrocellulose in solvents, while varnish is made from resins mixed with thinners or solvents.
2. Transparency: Varnish is always transparent, whereas lacquer can be made to have tinted finishes.
3. Finish Options: Lacquer does not contain flattening agents, so it only produces a glossy finish. Varnish can produce satin or semi-gloss finishes due to the presence of flattening agents.
4. Application: Lacquer is typically sprayed onto the surface, while varnish is applied using a brush.

In summary, both lacquer and varnish are used to provide a protective and aesthetically pleasing finish to wooden furniture. However, they differ in terms of ingredients, transparency, finish options, and application methods.

Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanovhttps://whats-different.com
Dmitri Ivanov, a writer and managing editor, was educated in Canada and holds a BS in Science. Dmitri loves doing research, writing, and teaching various courses.


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