Spray Lacquer or spray Poly?

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Forum topic by JoeinGa posted 01-18-2015 09:29 PM 1251 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7740 posts in 2248 days

01-18-2015 09:29 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing

So long as I’m asking about finishes…. any opinions on which is the better spray finish? Both cans say it gives a hard durable finish and I tried both in a side-by-side test on apiece of maple. Put down 2 coats of each. The lacquer finish looks “shinier” than the poly but the poly looks thicker.

More to my ultimate curiosity is I’m building a bathroom vanity cabinet. The base is all 4/4 maple, and the top is 5/4 oak. So I’m wondering which will do better in a sometimes “steamy” environment? The whole thing currently has 2 coats of Danish Oil and I’m thinking that a spray finish as a top coat will get into all the little spaces in and around all the boards, thus doing a more thorough job of sealing out any moisture down the road.

So what say you LumberJocks? Lacquer? or Poly? Is either a better choice for a bathroom vanity?

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

9 replies so far

View NoThanks's profile


798 posts in 1770 days

#1 posted 01-18-2015 09:37 PM

Poly is a better product for the bathroom, out of the 2.
Conversion varnish is what I use whenever doing something that needs durability.

-- Because I'm gone, that's why!

View pintodeluxe's profile


5819 posts in 3054 days

#2 posted 01-18-2015 09:38 PM

Poly and lacquer are both available in various sheens. Most spray equipment will handle either quite well. I prefer satin lacquer. Rudd makes a nice non-yellowing pre-cat lacquer.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View jumbojack's profile


1685 posts in 2865 days

#3 posted 01-18-2015 11:46 PM

I use lacquer for most everything. I love the look, sheen (satin), feel and you just can’t beat the smell of lacquer.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View OSU55's profile


2033 posts in 2230 days

#4 posted 01-19-2015 06:22 AM

Pre-cat lacquer will hold up pretty well, but poly will hold up better. Poly gets lost of dust nibs and such since it takes so long to dry. Unlike lacquer, poly overspray does not dry in the air before landing, and will turn everything that gets overspray into sandpaper – I stopped spraying it because of these problems.

I use WB lacquer and poly (spray). I’ve had 3 bathrooms finished in WB poly (Target EM9000) for 5 years with no problems. The WB overspray does dry in the air, and can be over coated in 1-2 hours.

View jinkyjock's profile


488 posts in 1815 days

#5 posted 01-19-2015 11:38 AM

I have sprayed Bathroom and Kitchen cabinet/units with
2pack AC (higher-solids) lacquer and no problems.
I believe with some of these products you can also get
a retardant which allows you to brush on lacquer.
+1 with jumbojack re. finish.

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


408 posts in 3262 days

#6 posted 01-19-2015 12:31 PM

In almost all cases i prefer lacquer to poly. However, in a bathroom cabinet I would use poly especially if it’s bathroom that will be used by kids.

Either will spray fine as long as you have the appropriate product matched with the appropriate spraying equipment. If I’m spraying a poly finish, my go-to choice is Enduro pre-cat urethane. It’s made to be sprayed and dries quickly.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View JoeinGa's profile


7740 posts in 2248 days

#7 posted 01-19-2015 01:08 PM

Thanks all, I appreciate the input.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Todd Swartwood's profile

Todd Swartwood

258 posts in 1966 days

#8 posted 01-19-2015 01:23 PM

Hi Joe,
I have used post cat lacquer for 20 years now it is far harder than pre cat lacquers. I do not have the patience
to wait for poly to dry for the following coat. However if you plan on spraying out of a can, poly is probably your best bet for durability. you can not get a post cat lacquer in a spray can.
I hope this is of use to you, oh by the way lacquers comes in more sheen’s than most finishes I like a medium
rubbed sheen.

You have a great and blessed day, Todd

-- Todd Swartwood (Todd Swart-Woodworks)

View Todd Swartwood's profile

Todd Swartwood

258 posts in 1966 days

#9 posted 01-19-2015 01:26 PM

Joe, I forgot to tell you my favorite brand is M.L. Campbell, I don’t think you can beat their products.


-- Todd Swartwood (Todd Swart-Woodworks)

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