Deciding whether to use lacquer paint vs. enamel paint on your model depends on exactly how you're using it. In general, lacquer is favored by model builders because of its shiny finish. These guidelines will help you choose the right paint for your needs.
The properties of lacquer paint versus enamel paint differ mainly in the solvent or "carrier" of the paint. Lacquer paint uses lacquer thinner and enamel paint uses paint thinner (also called white spirits).
Because lacquer paint uses lacquer thinner, it will soften any paint it is applied on top of. Enamel paint will not. So you can put a layer of enamel on top of a lacquer without worrying that the enamel will damage the coat below.
Knowing the properties of lacquer paint vs. enamel paint is useful when you can only find certain colors in certain types of paints. Just remember that you want to lay down lacquers first, then enamels. If you're using any acrylic paint, that would be the last coat.
The finish is the main consideration for most model builders. Lacquer is considered the best because it's shinier and thicker, but can bubble and crack if not applied properly. The drying times also are different for lacquer paint vs. enamel paint. Lacquer dries very quickly, enamel a bit slower.
Think about toxicity when deciding to use lacquer paint vs. enamel paint. Enamel paint is safer than lacquer, but both should only be used in well-ventilated areas. If you're using a sprayer, wear a protective mask to avoid breathing in the paint.
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