Understanding and perfecting a lacquer finish

When experts assemble high-quality furniture, it is crucial to preserve its aesthetic. Abraded and blemished by time, the original characteristics of a once great piece can eventually wilt in opulence. The age-old method invented in ancient China to preserve furniture makers’ art has delivered prodigious results. We are, of course, talking about lacquer. Discovered initially from the resin of the lacquer tree, the process soon moved from being used as lightweight waterproofing for vessels to the preservation of fine objects. With the perfect lacquer finish, it is possible to ameliorate any piece of furniture. So, what exactly is the perfect lacquer finish?

Modern-day lacquers are produced in a plethora of ways and come in various percentages to find the perfect finish for the sumptuous furniture of your choice. Besides aesthetic attraction, it provides versatility and adds toughness to a piece of furniture. The percentage of finish depends on the sheen you require. They vary from flat matte to very high gloss. A matte finish is usually used on open grain or paler woods but can beautifully finish a darker grain too. Matte is a minor glossy finish, which means it absorbs light rather than reflects it. This will make furniture easy on the eyes while boosting the pulchritudinous features of the grain. In between matte and high gloss, you have satin, giving the wood a pearl-like sheen. Then we move to a high gloss, which offers the most reflective sheen and creates a shimmering, immaculate finish. The lower percentage sheen finishes will show fewer imperfections but retain less durability. In contrast, the higher percentages will be tougher but may reveal certain imperfections in the wood if it has not been treated correctly previously.

As well as paying attention to the sheen, it is critical to know the correct lacquer to use. The most popular types are polyurethane, polyester, acrylic and shellac. Shellac is French polish made from the secretion of the female lac bug combined with a solvent. This lacquer is primally used for restoring antique furniture and works well with warm amber tones. However, it can be impaired by heat or moisture. Modern-day lacquers are far more durable, the most popular being acrylic for its superb level of clarity, making it perfect for paler wood. Polyurethane comes in water- and oil-based forms and works splendidly on dark woods. It is commonly available in sheens varying from satin to high gloss. Polyester is resin, but very similar. It is wonderful for filling furrows of open grain. Often, a furniture maker will combine different lacquers to achieve the perfect lacquer finish for a truly eye-catching result.


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