The Perfect Finish: Why You Shouldn’t Confuse Varnish and Lacquer

The Perfect Finish: Why You Shouldn’t Confuse Varnish and Lacquer

While it’s not uncommon for the terms varnish and lacquer to be used interchangeably, the truth is that they’re quite distinct. This something that any good carpenter will tell you. These professionals have a working relationship with both, so they know exactly when to use them and how to maximise their value.

When searching for high quality carpentry services in Stowmarket, it’s important to be clear about what you want. Whether you’re building a new staircase, restoring antique furniture, or erecting wooden support structures, try to give your carpenter as much information as possible. That way, they can pick materials and finishes which enhance and refine.

Keep reading to learn about the differences between lacquer and wood and some of their common applications.

What Is Varnish?

Varnish is a hard, transparent substance which is applied to wood as a way to make it glossy. It also provides a tough protective film, so that treated surfaces are more resistant to wear and damage. Varnishes are an important feature of carpentry services, because they bring out the rich, warm tones in wood. This is because they have no colour. They are completely clear.

What Is Lacquer?

Lacquer, on the other hand, is solvent based and it can be manufactured in different colours and various degrees of opacity. If you were to browse for wood furniture on the Stowmarket high street, you’d likely find a lot of lacquered items. Like varnish, it leaves a hard, glossy finish. However, lacquer is a little bit tougher and can even withstand acid based corrosion.

Do They Look Different?

Lacquers and varnishes look very similar after application. In fact, you might find it hard to tell the difference based on appearance alone. This is why it’s important to work with a reputable carpentry company. You don’t want an unscrupulous contractor trying to palm you off with varnish if it’s not what you asked for, and vice versa.

Which Finish Lasts the Longest?

As already mentioned, lacquer is the toughest of the two, though both leave hard, durable surfaces. Generally, the most common reason for favouring lacquer is simply that it wears better. Varnish can look very beautiful when applied correctly, but it doesn’t have the same longevity. This is something that you might want to think about, depending on what type of wooden structure you’re finishing and how much protection it requires.

Are They Applied in the Same Way?

The method of application is similar in both cases. However, varnish is normally brushed on at a slower speed. Lacquer, on the other hand, can be sprayed on quite quickly. This also means that lacquer is the fastest to dry. It contains rapidly evaporating solvents, so it is always a faster application. Varnish requires more precision, but it helps high quality wood shine.

Are Carpentry Finishes Flammable?

The downside to lacquer is that it’s naturally more flammable than varnish. In fact, any pieces of furniture that are due to be lacquered may be taken offsite (away from your home) for the task. The safest way to spray is inside a booth, so that surplus lacquer is instantly removed from the atmosphere. Varnishes can be applied onsite, though they may be a little messy.

To learn more about carpentry services or to find great local carpenters in Stowmarket, click here to visit Ligna Carpentry today. Or, call 01449 770 005 to speak to an advisor and get a cost estimate for your project.

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