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Lacquer vs water based finish

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Forum topic by greatview posted 01-16-2017 09:08 PM 608 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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greatview

126 posts in 2994 days


01-16-2017 09:08 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question lacquer

I’ve been spraying lacquer for many years with great results but with a recent move to New England, winters are difficult for lacquer due to fumes. I really cannot spray outside in this weather and cannot afford to heat enough air so that I can exhaust the vapors.

The primary reason for using lacquer is the quick drying time allowing 3-4 coats per day. In the warm weather I can spray outside (not in direct sunlight) but not this time of year.

I’m about to try a water based polyurethane and am looking for comments.

Thanks a lot.

-- Tom, New London, NH


12 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4757 posts in 2330 days


#1 posted 01-16-2017 09:31 PM

The biggest thing you’ll need to keep in mind is that waterbornes require more heat to dry than other finishes. Reactive finishes will cure (very slowly) in very cool temps, and evaporative finishes (lacquer, shellac) will dry in even lower temps…but the waterborne ones mostly need to be close to 70º or so to cure. The other thing is you must be cautious with the thinning, the label will state the maximum, try not to exceed that. Most of them can be sprayed right out of the container but you may not have the flow out you want, trying a few different ones will help you zero in. Lastly, even though they aren’t flammable the fumes can still be a health hazard, so use a respirator. I’ve used Target Coatings, Crystalac, and a couple of the GF offerings. They are all good, but GF is considerable easier to find.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Derek Cohen's profile

Derek Cohen

348 posts in 3805 days


#2 posted 01-17-2017 01:08 AM

I am using General Finishes water-based ply for kitchen doors, chosen as we want the Hard Maple to remain as light as possible (not yellow as it will using oil-based poly).

I do not have spray equipment, and read bad reports of brushing this finish (both bristle and foam brushes). My method is to wipe two coats of White Shellac (de-waxed), and then wipe 5 coats of the GF. The coats are all very thin, almost polishing the board. Each coat is rubbed with grey (very fine) mesh.

The result is excellent. A flat, even finish with a hint of shine. See-through and natural.

Regards from Perth

Derek

-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at http://www.inthewoodshop.com

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cracknpop

259 posts in 2186 days


#3 posted 01-17-2017 03:59 AM

Like you, I really like spraying lacquer for a variety of good reasons. While our Indiana winters may not be as cold as those in New England, it can still get cold (high of 6 degrees 2 wknds ago).
Here are a couple things I do in my unattached, heated workshop when spraying in the winter.
- decrease pressure at spray gun as much as possible to decrease overspray
- open the windows just a crack to allow some air movement but furnace easily keeps up
- wear my respirator full time the day I am spraying
- while not designed to be a spray booth, it does help remove some of the fumes, I run my dust collector with this air cleaner attachment I made: http://lumberjocks.com/projects/219850
- I try to spray toward end of day so fumes can settle through the night

I also second Fred’s comment, waterborne finish fumes are not without health hazards either. If I were using a waterborne finish, I would still do the above. Spraying shellac may be another option, especially if thinned with corn alcohol as it would be less toxic, yet still dry quickly.
(Another benefit of using corn alcohol to thin your shellac… if you happen to splash some into a shot glass near your work bench, you could just toss it down and warm your belly in those cold winter months… for “medicinal purposes only” of course. LOL )

-- Rick - I know I am not perfect, but I will keep pressing on toward the goal of becoming all I am called to be.

View Cooler's profile

Cooler

299 posts in 680 days


#4 posted 01-17-2017 01:29 PM

I’ve been brushing oil based poly for many years with excellent results. I just bought a HVLP sprayer and I think that I would like to use a water based finish with that equipment. Is there anything out there that will dry as hard as the oil based (with a full cure of 7 days).

My main reason for switching is that I would like to be able to ship within a couple of days of applying the finish. I cannot do that with the oil based finish as the finish, though dry to touch, can still laminate to anything that is in constant contact.

Suggestions?

-- This post is a hand-crafted natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar should not be viewed as flaws or defects, but rather as an integral characteristic of the creative process.

View ScottM's profile

ScottM

565 posts in 1983 days


#5 posted 01-17-2017 01:31 PM

You could also try water based lacquer, but I think your main problem is the heat required to cure the finish.

View bbasiaga's profile

bbasiaga

1009 posts in 1832 days


#6 posted 01-17-2017 01:58 PM

I spray water based topcoat in my basement, which is often in the low 69s or high 50s. The finish drys in 1.5 to 2 hrs per coat, so I can get several coats per day. It does take a week or so to cure, but I have not had any trouble with the finish lasting. I think the dry winter air helps with keeping the dry time low.

Brian

-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Carol's profile

Carol

57 posts in 350 days


#7 posted 01-17-2017 03:28 PM

i don’t have a whole lot of experience but i can say this: i’ve used oil based poly and don’t like how uv rays affect the finish down the road, even when the piece isn’t in direct sunlight. if you have a dark stain the uv “damage” isn’t as noticeable as it can be on lighter woods.

i’ve used a LOT of water based poly. tried the general finishes and hated it. it turned my beautiful white pine the ugliest shade of primary yellow i’ve ever seen. my favorite brand of water based, matte poly is (surprisingly) rustoleum. i order it thru amazon. self leveling whether sponge or brush, no shine, soft to the touch. not surprisingly, a water based finish isn’t as strong as oil based. it brings out the grain of my pine but doesn’t change the color. but without the color, i suspect it’s even more susceptible to uv damage and oxidation.

not water based, but one of my favs for strength and durability is waterlox. i used it to finish my heart pine countertops. what i like best about it is that it’s food safe, and i can recoat over old waterlox without sanding first. you can’t do that to many finishes that i’ve seen.

according to my bio-chemist grad student son, oil based simply won’t cure as fast as water based. i dont remember exactly why, as my eyes started to glaze over and my head started nodding 10 minutes into his explanation, complete with powerpoint slide presentation, graphs, and accompanying pie charts… ;-)

-- Carol

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Cooler

299 posts in 680 days


#8 posted 01-17-2017 03:55 PM


i don t have a whole lot of experience but i can say this: i ve used oil based poly and don t like how uv rays affect the finish down the road, even when the piece isn t in direct sunlight. if you have a dark stain the uv “damage” isn t as noticeable as it can be on lighter woods.

i ve used a LOT of water based poly. tried the general finishes and hated it. it turned my beautiful white pine the ugliest shade of primary yellow i ve ever seen. my favorite brand of water based, matte poly is (surprisingly) rustoleum. i order it thru amazon. self leveling whether sponge or brush, no shine, soft to the touch. not surprisingly, a water based finish isn t as strong as oil based. it brings out the grain of my pine but doesn t change the color. but without the color, i suspect it s even more susceptible to uv damage and oxidation.

not water based, but one of my favs for strength and durability is waterlox. i used it to finish my heart pine countertops. what i like best about it is that it s food safe, and i can recoat over old waterlox without sanding first. you can t do that to many finishes that i ve seen.

according to my bio-chemist grad student son, oil based simply won t cure as fast as water based. i dont remember exactly why, as my eyes started to glaze over and my head started nodding 10 minutes into his explanation, complete with powerpoint slide presentation, graphs, and accompanying pie charts… ;-)

- Carol

I used Waterlox on the floor in my guest bedroom and I agree the finish looks terrific. But they were very insistent that a full cure be made before using it—and for Waterlox it is 200 hours (about 7 days). This is a very similar cure time to oil based poly which is a harder wearing finish but does not look quite as good as Waterlox.

-- This post is a hand-crafted natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar should not be viewed as flaws or defects, but rather as an integral characteristic of the creative process.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4757 posts in 2330 days


#9 posted 01-17-2017 05:02 PM

Carol, some of the waterborne finishes have a tint added to mimic the warm appearance of an oil based finish, that may be what you got with your white pine. I know the GF Enduro Var has that tint, but on the other hand their HP does not (it dries water clear). But if your happy with the Rustoleum there’s no reason to change. For the record, the waterborne finishes are all mostly an acrylic finish. Some of the manufacturers added a small dollop of urethane so they could put that magic work “poly” on the label. That includes the waterbornes that label themselves as “lacquer”. there is a technology called “oil modified” waterborne finish that may be an exception to the acrylic thing, I’m not having much luck learning exactly what they are. GF’s Enduro Var is an oil modified finish (I think).

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Ted78's profile

Ted78

323 posts in 1837 days


#10 posted 01-17-2017 05:23 PM

Fred Hastings. Interesting. Acrylic IS a polymer itself as far as I know. I don’t’ think they would have to add urethane simply to use the word poly.

-- Ted

View Cooler's profile

Cooler

299 posts in 680 days


#11 posted 01-17-2017 05:46 PM

Beacon Self Polishing Floor Wax was an acrylic finish. In the 1980s the company I worked for made steel hooks for Enclume, a pot rack manufacturer in California. They wanted a natural appearance and we would make the hooks out of plain steel wire and they would dip them in Beacon Floor Wax for a finish.

I guess water based poly was not available back then.

https://www.enclume.com/

I laugh when I read the description (though Beacon Floor Wax is no longer available):

Enclume Materials

Flat bar steel is the raw material underpinning our business.

To start we purchase the best hot-rolled steel available – from the largest and most consistent mill – to provide the backbone for our hammered steel products. This material is ideally-suited for the transformation we accomplish to reveal the rich, distressed look of our signature finish.

-- This post is a hand-crafted natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar should not be viewed as flaws or defects, but rather as an integral characteristic of the creative process.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4757 posts in 2330 days


#12 posted 01-17-2017 09:08 PM

Ted (I guess that was directed to me), yes..acrylic is a polymer; and yes they can probably put the word poly on the label because of that. But as misleading as the finishing industry is, it wouldn’t matter what the compounds are…they might call it “poly” just to sell it. They do that with several other products.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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