The exact definition of lacquer may depend on who you ask, or what type of lacquer you’re referring to. Read about it, the many varieties, how it’s made, and how it differs from other finishes like varnish and polyurethane. 

What Is Lacquer Paint?


Close up of varnish dripping of paint brush. Brush with lacquer over can, nobody


It is a liquid made of shellac dissolved in alcohol that dries to form a very hard, smooth, protective coating on surfaces like wood and metal. Originally made from the sap of a particular tree, it can also be made of synthetic substances. It’s liked for furniture because it’s extremely durable and resists damage, which is exactly the reason PEDINI Miami uses premium lacquer in their collections for modern homes. 


According to, lacquer is a solvent-based product made by dissolving nitrocellulose along with plasticizers and pigments in volatile solvents. It also is made with a solution of shellac in alcohol, which creates a synthetic coating and forms a high-gloss surface. 


So, if lacquer is made from shellac, what is shellac? Shellac is one of the most fascinating substances to read about in the world of furniture finishing. Shellac is derived from a substance derived from bugs! Yes, shellac is made from the cocoon-like excretions of a tiny parasitic insect called a “lac” (Laccifer lacca), which feeds on certain trees in Asia. But, what is this substance used for?


During the 1920s to 1960s, a lacquer-based paint was popular for lacquer furniture and automobiles. This type of paint is soft and does not contain many chemicals. It would take as many as 6 coats to do an auto body and was not durable or long-lived. Today, the only place that this type of lacquer paint is used is in furniture manufacturing shops.


Now better quality-lacquers are used in ultra-modern furnishings and high-end cabinetry.


What Are the Benefits of lacquer paint for cabinets?


Lacquer has recently become a favorite for homeowners who want to remodel their kitchens and have a glossy finish on cabinets. Lacquer looks like new for a long time and is extremely durable as it’s chip-resistant and waterproof. If it does show wear over time, it can be polished to resume a high sheen, or it can be applied in more matte options and a wide variety of colors. For an idea of some lacquer finishes in kitchens, visit the PEDINI Miami Kitchen collections to learn more about the use of  lacquer in our full turnkey projects. Currently, PEDINI Miami offers lacquer finishes with their most popular collections, including:

How Lacquer Paint Is Applied


There are spray lacquers in clear, gloss white, and gloss black like Rust-Oleum that lend a very hard, factory-finish to wood and metal surfaces. However, for the best results, it should be professionally applied.


What Are Some Different Types of Lacquer?


Varnishing of oak parquet floor, first layer of lacquer


Nitrocellulose Lacquer


This is the most common type of lacquer. It’s commonly used on wooden products. This type of lacquer tends to yellow as it ages. It can also crack with age or temperature changes, so it does not work well in outdoor applications. This lacquer type is hazardous, as it’s flammable and highly toxic.


Acrylic Lacquer


Lacquer based on acrylic was developed in the 1950s for use on automobiles. It’s very rapid drying and has a non-yellowing formula that is often chosen for lighter-colored wood.


Water-Based Lacquer


Water-based lacquer is now quite popular for refinishing kitchen cabinets. It’s more environmentally-friendly than many lacquers, yet it is still durable and scratch-resistant.


Metal Lacquer 


Metal lacquer is made to tolerate wider ranges of heat and cold without cracking. This makes it appropriate for either indoor or outdoor applications. It can be applied to metal, wood, masonry, and unglazed ceramic. It is very durable and the type used for modern automobiles. 




The number of finishes for wood, metal, and home furnishings is virtually unlimited. If you have a high-end home, it’s wise to let a design professional guide you through the maze to select the most appropriate surfaces for your interior design turnkey project. 

Read Related Topic:- What Is Lacquer and How Can It Reinvent Your Kitchen Cabinets?