Lacquer vs Polyurethane: What’s The Difference?

Lacquer vs Polyurethane is one of the most common comparisons among woodworkers because of the uncountable similarities between them.

When it comes to painting and finishing your wood projects, you may have heard of lacquer and polyurethane. But what’s the difference between lacquer and polyurethane? And which one should you use for your project?

The blog will discuss the differences between lacquer and polyurethane, as well as when to use each one.

But before we get started with the detailed comparison. Let’s learn about the basic definition of the two material types.

lacquer vs polyurethane

What is Lacquer?

Lacquer is a type of paint that is made from lac resin, ethanol, and pigment. It was first used in China more than 3000 years ago. Lacquer has a high gloss finish and it’s durable to water and alcohol.

What is Polyurethane?

Polyurethane is a synthetic polymer composed of organic units joined by carbamate links. It was first created in 1937 by German chemist Otto Bayer. Polyurethane has a wide range of properties, including hardness, scratch resistance, and elasticity.

Now that we know the basics of lacquer and polyurethane, let’s move on to the detailed comparison of lacquer and polyurethane.

Lacquer vs Polyurethane: 7 Major Differences

1. Quality

When it comes to the quality of lacquer vs polyurethane, lacquer is the winner. Lacquer has a higher solid content which means that there are more binder and pigments per liter. This results in better coverage and a thicker film.

Polyurethane, on the other hand, has a lower solid content. This means that it’s more likely to show brushstrokes and have a lesser gloss finish than lacquer.

Furthermore, lacquer is less sensitive to humidity and temperature changes than polyurethane. So if you’re looking for a high-quality finish, lacquer is the better option.

However, if you’re looking for a more durable finish, polyurethane is the better option.

2. Ease of Use

Both lacquer and polyurethane are easy to use, but lacquer is a little bit easier. Lacquer dries faster than polyurethane, so it’s less likely to run or drip.

Polyurethane also has a strong odor which can be overwhelming for some people. Overall, lacquer is the better option if you’re looking for an easy-to-use product.

Both lacquer and polyurethane have their pros and cons, so it’s important to choose the right one for your project. If you’re unsure which one to use, lacquer is the better all-around option.

But if you’re looking for a more durable finish, polyurethane is the better choice.

Do you have any experience with lacquer or polyurethane? Let us know in the comments below!

3. Costs

The cost of lacquer and polyurethane also varies. Lacquer is more expensive than polyurethane, but it’s worth the investment.

Polyurethane is a cheaper option, but the quality isn’t as good as lacquer. So if you’re looking for a high-quality finish, lacquer is the better option.

But if you’re on a budget, polyurethane is a good alternative.

4. Drytime

Both lacquer and polyurethane have a short dry time, but lacquer dries faster. Lacquer can take as little as 30 minutes to dry, while polyurethane typically takes about an hour.

This means that lacquer is less likely to run or drip than polyurethane. However, lacquer is also more susceptible to dust and dirt than polyurethane.

Overall, lacquer has a shorter dry time, but it’s more susceptible to dust and dirt. Polyurethane takes longer to dry, but it’s less susceptible to dust and dirt.

5. Exterior Usage

Lacquer is not recommended for exterior usage, while polyurethane is. Polyurethane can withstand extreme weather conditions and it’s more resistant to UV rays than lacquer.

So if you’re looking for a product that can be used outdoors, polyurethane is the better option. Lacquer is not recommended for exterior usage because it’s not as durable as polyurethane.

Polyurethane is the better option for exterior usage because it’s more resistant to UV rays and extreme weather conditions.

6. Safety of Use

When it comes to the safety of lacquer and polyurethane, both are safe to use. Lacquer is non-toxic and doesn’t have a strong odor, while polyurethane is also non-toxic.

However, lacquer can be flammable if it’s not dried properly. So, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using lacquer.

Polyurethane is not flammable, but it does have a strong odor. If you’re sensitive to smells, polyurethane might not be the best option for you.

Both lacquer and polyurethane are safe to use, but lacquer can be flammable if it’s not dried properly. Polyurethane has a strong odor, so if you’re sensitive to smells, lacquer might be the better option for you.

7. Versatility

Lacquer is a versatile product that can be used on a variety of surfaces, including wood, metal, and plastic. Polyurethane is not as versatile as lacquer and can only be used on wood surfaces.

So if you’re looking for a product that can be used on multiple surfaces, lacquer is the better option.

Lacquer is a versatile product that can be used on a variety of surfaces, while polyurethane can only be used on wood surfaces.

Lacquer vs Polyurethane: Which One You Should Use?

So, which one should you use? Lacquer or polyurethane? It depends on your project and what you’re looking for in a product.

Lacquer is the better option if you’re looking for an easy-to-use product that dries quickly. You can easily use a tooth saw on material equipped with lacquer, which is not common with other materials.

Polyurethane is the better option if you’re looking for a more durable finish that can be used outdoors. But ultimately, it’s up to you which product you choose.

Both lacquer and polyurethane are safe to use, but lacquer can be flammable if it’s not dried properly. Polyurethane has a strong odor, so if you’re sensitive to smells, lacquer might be the better option for you.

Lacquer is a versatile product that can be used on a variety of surfaces, while polyurethane can only be used on wood surfaces. So if you’re looking for a product that can be used on multiple surfaces, lacquer is the better option.

Conclusion

So, lacquer or polyurethane? What’s the difference?

Lacquer is a better option if you’re looking for a product that dries quickly and is easy to use. Polyurethane is a better option if you’re looking for a more durable finish that can be used outdoors.