Why I use water-borne lacquers

Through the years I’ve learned a great deal about cabinet finishes, and though I don’t claim to be an expert, I’ve narrowed it down to the one type of finish I feel is the best for cabinetry; water-borne lacquer.


Before I get into that, I want to touch on some of the other finishes that are available.  There is nitro-cellulose lacquer, shellac, polyurethanes, spar varnish, oil rub finishes, water-base paint, oil-based paint and many more.  If you have ever visited a kitchen showroom place you would have heard of their “baked-on finish.”  All of these finishes have their pros and cons.  Some are for exterior use while others create a nice finish but don’t hold up against water even in doors.  The problem I’ve found with some of these finishes is that they are harmful to the environment and your health.  Many of them ‘off gas’ for weeks until they have finally cured.

Pre-Fab Cabinets

I’ve been working in the trades since the 80’s.  In the 90’s I started working for are modeling contractor who install “pre-fab” cabinets.  These are cabinets built either in the mid west or abroad.  Their big selling point was their “baked-on finish”.  At the time it was the best finish you could get in California because of the EPA laws.  My first question was, “If California doesn’t allow companies to spray this finish in the state, then it’s probably bad for the environment. So does that mean that we are killing the planet in the mid west so you can have your baked-on finish in California?” It just didn’t seem right to me.  But you couldn’t argue that it was the best finish you could get at the time.  Until now that is.


No More Rings

Water-Bourne technology has come a long way since then.  W-B lacquers come in both clear and tin table white.  Both are pre-catalyzed which gives a hard shell finish that water has a difficult time getting through.  Do you remember having to use a coaster on older furniture for fear of your glass making a ring?  That’s called “ghosting”.  Those old finishes weren’t pre-catalyzed and so water would make it’s way past the finish and then push it up, separating the finish from the wood creating a white ring. This won’t happen with the lacquer use.


And the best part about W-B lacquers is that it has less VOC’s(volatile organic compounds) then the paint you’re currently using on your walls.  It cures very fast and doesn’t off gas. Less than an hour after spraying you can’t even detect an odor.  This can’t be said of any of the other finishes that I know of.


It makes me very happy to be able to provide a finish that’s not harmful to the environment and more importantly, to my clients.

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