Advantages & Disadvantages of Lacquer in Woodworking

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Lacquer is commonly used on wood floors.

The use of lacquer on wood is a common practice to give the wood a shiny finish. Many times, lacquer is used on wood flooring, musical instruments and other woodworking projects. The coating gives the wood a clear finish without harming the look of the natural wood. However, lacquer comes with its advantages and disadvantages.


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Applying lacquer is one of the advantages of using this coating. Lacquer is easy to apply and dries quickly, and you can walk on the floor within hours after applying it. The disadvantage of using lacquer lies in its lack of durability. A scratch from any sharp object will expose the wood. Moisture and dirt can get into the scratch, causing that section of the wood to turn gray. Wood flooring can sustain damage from sand and dirt from your shoes.


Lacquer also offers the advantage that it can be recoated without causing any other problems. The recoating will adhere to the older lacquer, and you will get good clarity with the recoating. However, using lacquer to recoat an older finish also requires you to sand the scratches or damaged areas of the wood to prevent the gray color from remaining. Cleaning the damaged areas involves a great deal of physical labor.



You need only apply a thin coat of lacquer for an attractive shine. The thin layer allows the surface to brighten and brings the natural grains to the surface. Unfortunately, a thin layer of lacquer is not heat resistant. Any wood exposed to the sun will deteriorate more quickly than the other areas. High-travel areas will also deteriorate more quickly, leaving a section of the wood duller in comparison with other lacquered areas.


Lacquer does not resist chemicals. The lacquer will turn different colors in spots that make contact with water, salt or other everyday chemicals. The lacquer is also not waterproof. Water can penetrate a lacquered surface and enter the wood, causing the wood to deteriorate prematurely. Excess or leftover lacquer does not have a long shelf life; you can only store most lacquers for about six months.