Laquer vs poly

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Forum topic by Eric posted 01-30-2012 11:11 PM 1419 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Eric's profile


216 posts in 1933 days

01-30-2012 11:11 PM

Help me…

TOPIC - Laquer vs poly vs rubbing poly

PROJECT - Kitchen cabinet


COLOR FINISH - Transtint dye

QUESTION - Satin laquer OR satin poly OR satin wipe-on poly

Ready…. GO!

-- Eric

6 replies so far

View Philzoel's profile


298 posts in 1765 days

#1 posted 01-30-2012 11:16 PM

I like poly. No muse no fuss and last forever.

-- Phil Zoeller louisville, KY

View ajosephg's profile


1878 posts in 2983 days

#2 posted 01-31-2012 12:05 AM

According my exhaustive (lol) research, poly is the most durable finish. It’s application may be more labor and time intensive than other finishes.

I have had good luck with Transfast dye powder.

My personal taste is semi gloss poly. Full gloss is too shiny, and satin is too mat. (Top coats only. I use gloss for the base coats, because it gives the impression of greater depth, and doesn’t hide the wood grain.)

I use brush on poly for the first three or four layers because it builds thickness faster than wipe on. I use rattle can spray on (semi gloss) for the final coats. Disadvantage: Gets expensive if you have many square feet to finish.

-- Joe

View bunkie's profile


412 posts in 2569 days

#3 posted 01-31-2012 03:53 AM

Last year, I completed my kitchen remodel. My cabinets are Euro-style and the doors and drawer fronts are maple-veneer plywood.

On most of the doors, I used lacquer. I was looking for as close to a wet look as I could get. The lacquer was easy to work. I could get good build respraying every few minutes (I was using rattle cans). I wet-sanded with automotive papers starting at 400 and going up to 2000, and then using automotive polishing compound. The poly, on the other hand (water-based and applied by brush) took much longer to rub out.

I love lacquer. Poly is certainly more durable and more forgiving of environmental conditions. But it looks too much like, well, poly. Poly is a great all-around finish, but when it has to look as good as possible, of the two, I’d go with lacquer.

-- Altruism is, ultimately, self-serving

View JAAune's profile


1615 posts in 1738 days

#4 posted 01-31-2012 04:02 AM

I’d much rather use lacquer than poly except in high moisture areas (cabinets in the bathroom or near the stove). The lacquer I’ve used doesn’t hold up well under those conditions.

Poly is more durable but once it’s scratched there’s no good way to repair it. It’s also a bear to sand out properly and for those with spray systems, isn’t nearly as easy to use.

For a kitchen, I’d say poly unless you find a lacquer that has a proven track record for the environment. A couple years of steaming tea kettles can really hurt some lacquer jobs. Depends upon the product being used.

Something to consider regarding Transtint, no dye is as lightfast as a pigment and if the cabinets get a lot of sunlight, the colors may fade some. I’ve done a few pieces of furniture using just dyes but usually I try to do a two layer stain with dye for the first coat and a pigmented stain over that.

-- See my work at and

View a1Jim's profile


115177 posts in 2999 days

#5 posted 01-31-2012 04:03 AM

poly goes on thicker and in general is considered more durable but lacquer is easier to repair if the need arises .

-- Custom furniture

View Dark_Lightning's profile


2620 posts in 2531 days

#6 posted 01-31-2012 04:56 AM

I’ll have to look into pre-cat lacquer. I like lacquer, in general, whether it’s a car paint job or a wood project (or a metal project, for that matter). I adore how it ages. But my wife can’t stand the smell, and I do the work in our attached garage. So, the last cabinet I flogged into something else got done with poly. Of course, the top is going to be tile, so the finish is irrelevant on that part.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

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