[GUIDE] The Best Lacquer for Kitchen Cabinets – EvolutDesign

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Last updated: March 25, 2023

Outdated kitchen cabinets are a common issue in many households. As the years’ pass, wood cabinets change color, becoming golden oak in color. The costliest option is to replace the cabinets. A good choice means you only need to add a new coat from respectable brand products like Sherwin Williams like S/G Clear Lacquer or the Lacquer Topcoat.

If you have decided that your kitchen requires a facelift, painting the cabinets with lacquer is the best bet. Lacquer is a type of finish used on wood, and homeowners commonly use it in kitchen cabinets because of its gloss finish. Like any first coat, apply thin coats to every previous layer and you’ll end up with the best finish for any wood veneer’s final finish.

If the type of wood has a durable finish, you can apply different sheens with small movements and fast drying to kitchen cupboards, for example. This high quality protective layer or top coat, in the long run, provides the best wood stains and goes a long way in getting the right finish.

Using the best lacquer for kitchen cabinet finishes is an incredible way to protect your cabinets; this will safeguard and nourish your kitchen furniture regularly exposed to heat and water. One significant advantage of lacquer kitchen cabinets is that they are easy to clean, and the wood lasts longer than that with other finishes because it is moisture-resistant.

best lacquer for kitchen cabinets Kitchen with walls lined with white lacquered kitchen cabinets

The best products are sometimes sold at a local paint store or specialty outlets where the best cabinet paints and furniture-quality paint are sold. The type of paint, like latex paint or chalk paint, may vary with some available at an affordable price.

Read through my remarks below, as I will highlight each of their outstanding characteristics. Making a final decision will be easier if you know what factors to consider. For the next step, devote some time to reading this article. I believe this article will help you get all the required information to make an informed purchase decision. Good luck!

Table of Contents

Titanium Infusion Cabinet Paint Kit by Nuvo

One of the most versatile colors used by the artist, Titanium Infusion, is a bright, ultra-white hue which is a fresh color for modern, contemporary wood kitchen cabinet panels. Everything goes with Titanium Infusion, making it a versatile color that you can use in any modern setting. It is available in their Contemporary Collection. It does not come in different colors. Learn more about the complete kit.

Nuvo Titanium Infusion 1 Day Cabinet Makeover Kit

Metal and wood can both benefit from this lacquer spray’s crystal-clear finish since this is a terrific way to increase the value of any piece of furniture. Depending on your preference, you can select from various sheens, including gloss, satin, and semi-gloss.

Repurpose your old cabinets instead of just putting up with them. To save time, money, and the hassle of buying new cabinets, Nuvo lets you use your old ones instead. Nuvo can help you paint your cabinets and renovate your kitchen or bathroom in just one day, converting them from drab and outdated to fresh and modern.

With just two coats of Nuvo, cabinets made of wood, laminate, or metal get an excellent satin finish that’s easy to clean and maintain. It comes with everything you need to get started and covers the average cabinet surface space of 100 square feet.

The manufacturer called this water-based, low-odor, low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paint Nuvo Cabinet Paint. Dismantling your cabinets isn’t necessary when using a specialized two-part paint and primer technique, and you can apply it over most existing finishes with minimal prep work. No extra topcoats or sealers are necessary for Nuvo’s durable design since it is water-resistant.

Cabinet Coat Satin Finish INSL-X by Benjamin Moore

Cabinet finishing issues present themselves to professional painters regularly. It’s a broad category that includes everything from refinishing old cabinets which help achieve a different look to applying custom finishes to new cabinets.

Cabinet product selection might be difficult. The cons of lacquer kitchen cabinets and solvent-based coatings are that they are not for everyone. If you’ve been seeking a paint as easy to use as your favorite trim paint but with a more substantial and more lasting glossy finish, Insl-X Cabinet Coat is a big deal in the market today.

The same people who create Stix primer make Insl-X Cabinet Coat, a urethane acrylic paint. They know a thing or two about adhesion, a particular strength in Cabinet Coat’s urethane-modified composition. Urethanes are notorious for being sticky and hard to cure, and this one claims to work on laminate and Formica. These are excellent attributes in a kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors finish.

Cabinet Coat has a low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) content, a measurement, and a paint regulation method. Surprisingly, it has a low VOC content of 50 grams per liter or less, putting it in the “low VOC” paint classification, which is a good thing. As the paint dries, the off-gassing becomes less harmful to you and the environment. However, low VOC does not always imply low or no odor.

Cabinet Coat has a slight odor, but it shouldn’t bother your nose more than a typical trim paint. This product is relatively easy to use when applied with a paint sprayer or a brush, and it’s a little thicker and stickier than a beautiful buttery trim paint, but painters of all skill levels should be able to use it.

Brush INSL-X Cabinet Coat the same way you would urethane. Lay it out and forget about it. Cabinet Coat can get showy because of its short tack-up time, so don’t overdo it with brush marks.

Deft Interior Gloss Brushing Lacquer Clear Wood Finish

Deft specializes in water-based protective coatings for wood that cure quickly and look professional. As a lacquer, it’s a little thicker than the other items I tried. It’s effortless to control while applying it, but keep an eye out for drips and globs, which can build quickly and be difficult to remove.

For the most remarkable results, I recommend using a high-quality, natural-bristle brush and keeping mineral spirits on hand to correct any mistakes. Lacquer cabinets can also benefit from high quality spray equipment to avoid rough edges as you add a layer of lacquer. The best spray method is one that adds thin layers of lacquer paint.

This product provides excellent physical protection against surface damage, ensuring that your cabinets can withstand the heavy demands of kitchen life. It’s an incredibly water-resistant cabinet sealer and will protect your cabinets from rot and water damage. You won’t worry about food stains, spills, or steam swelling.

Because this product does not protect against UV fading, they do not recommend kitchens that receive a lot of sunlight.

Only a high-gloss finish coat is available. I prefer semi-gloss or satin finishes on kitchen cabinets, but this product might be for you if you want a great sheen. Deft created this lacquer to be non-yellowing so that you can use it over white paint without fear of deterioration.

It takes 30 minutes to dry, but I suggest waiting an hour before re-coating. Because of the quick dry time, you may complete your project in a single day, which is excellent if you have a tight schedule. Only 1-quart cans of this lacquer are available, and they are pretty pricey. On the other hand, each quart can cover an astonishing 400 square feet, so it’ll certainly fit inside your budget for any job.

Because it has a high concentration of VOCs, you’ll need to take extra precautions to prevent inhaling the fumes from frequent contact. As a result, the stench is pungent, so I advise not using it indoors if feasible, even with adequate ventilation.

Topcoat High-Performance Water-Based by General Finishes

The best clear coat must be able to last a long time. Woodworking products from General Finishes have passed multiple examinations by judges, critics, professional and amateur woodworkers of all levels of expertise.

For this reason, I included a clear finished coat on my list. Water-based polyurethane works for wood surfaces inside the home, such as wood floors and doors. As such, it is for interior use only.

Also included in this long-lasting finish is an ultraviolet (UV) stabilizer, which protects the wood from UV damage and color changes. An interior finish like this is scarce. As a result, you don’t have to be concerned about your cabinets being exposed to direct sunlight all day, even in hotter climates.

The drying time of this clear coat is another feature you’ll love. Using a synthetic brush, pad, or sprayer, you may reapply a second coat of the best polyurethane to your kitchen cabinets within an hour or two. Because of this, the General Finishes High-Performance Water-Based Topcoat is among the simplest to use.

You can start using your cabinets in seven days and finish curing them within three weeks if the weather permits.

Wood Finish Watco Lacquer – Best paint for Kitchen Cabinets

Lacquer had been the standard treatment for palace woodwork for ages. Utterly beautiful, you can now give your kitchen cabinets a royal treatment.

Wood finish Watco Lacquer Clear Wood Finish (CWF) is a beautiful, practical, clear coat. There are many clear coats on this list. Unlike most of them, this one is good for furniture such as doors and cabinets.

The rich satin sheen of this clear coat is what I like most about it. It’s also more straightforward than you think to achieve this excellent look. Extraordinary qualities allow it to save a significant amount of time during and after use. Each coat dries to the touch in just one hour, and you don’t have to sand between them. To create a smooth surface, you won’t need to use wood filler or wood putty because this lacquer fills the pores of most wood kinds.

Another perk of this lacquer finish is that it is easy applying it with a brush or a sprayer. The only caveat is that it might damage stained or painted surfaces, so proceed with caution. It’s best to start with a tiny area of the cabinet.

It’s also possible to apply this to raw wood to achieve a lovely finish with no effort.

Gloss Brushing Lacquer Spray by Minwax

Because of Minwax’s commitment to creating high-quality wood care and finishing products, they were able to develop this lacquer. Most purchasers choose the Gloss Brushing Lacquer Spray because of its simplicity of usage.

Minwax 15200 Gloss Brushing Lacquer Spray, Clear, 12.25-Ounce

When applying this lacquer, it will dry to the touch within 30 minutes. For the re-coat application, it will need to wait another two hours.

This product works to help protect metal and wood surfaces. However, interior wood surfaces are a better fit for this. You can apply this for over-stained or even bare wood.

Gloss Brushing Interior Clear Deft Wood (CWF) Finishing Lacquer

I want to tell you about Deft’s lacquer, which completes my list of the best finishes for kitchen cabinets.

Lacquer is available from Deft with a glossy shine, and this is the best option for a clear finish that won’t darken with time. Don’t worry about ruining your interior design because it’s formulated not to turn yellow over light or white stained work.

Deft Interior Clear Wood Finish Gloss Brushing Lacquer, Quart

A quart of this gloss finish covers an area of 400 square feet. The lacquer’s crystal-clear finish will cure quickly, and it will be dry in about 30 minutes. Before moving on to the next coat, you’ll need to wait longer, and it only requires a couple of hours of waiting time.

It’s not difficult to use this lacquer, and you only need to brush it over the target surface to get professional-looking effects right away. One hundred percent nitrocellulose goes into the making of this brushing lacquer. Most metal and wood surfaces in the interior can benefit from this product.

This formulation’s CWF component will dissipate into thin air and require minimal effort for sanding and removing any scratches. Aside from that, you’ll have an easier time getting the results you want because this has a self-leveling property.

Lacquer Clear Wood Finish 63041 by Watco

Rust-Oleum, the manufacturer of the Watco line of products, is a well-known name in protective paints and topcoats.

The quantity of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is high enough to recommend using a respirator and taking all necessary safety precautions when using this product. Since the stench is quite potent, it’s essential to have enough ventilation in your home to keep it from smelling for lengthy periods.

Watco 63041 Lacquer Clear Wood Finish, Quart, Clear Gloss

In terms of thickness, this varnish is a type of lacquer. A self-leveling polyurethane is denser than traditional water or oil-based polyurethanes, but it won’t glob, and drips will usually disappear throughout the curing process. It’s easy to use, making it excellent for novices. Learn more about Lacquer Clear Wood Finish 63041 by Watco.

It’ll dry essentially on the cabinet’s surface, where it’ll form a thick, long-lasting barrier. Suitable protection from scratches and scuffs means your kitchen hardware is safe from high-traffic and physical harm. Extreme waterproofing means that spilled liquids and grease from cooking will not damage your cabinets, and no stains are left behind after wiping away food or humidity.

If you have a lot of sunlight in your kitchen, you may notice some fading on your cabinets. This product has satin, semi-gloss, and gloss options so that you won’t be limited in your finishing options.

Unlike most lacquers, this lacquer will remain clear even over light colors, which tend to be yellow over white paint. During my previous tests, I observed no yellowing of the bright white paint. It cures quickly and can be re-coated in as little as an hour after the first application, which implies that you’ll be able to complete the application process in a matter of days rather than weeks.

Even though it is only available in 1-quart cans, the price is reasonable. Regardless of the scope of your project, this will be within your financial capabilities.

Lacquer Kitchen Cabinets Pros

In contrast to varnish, shellac, natural oil stains, and polyurethane-coated kitchen cabinets that flake, lacquer-finished kitchen cabinets are highly durable and resistant to acid, alkali, water, and abrasions. Other finishes turn yellowish over time, whereas lacquer stays crystal clear.

  • In addition to being robust and sturdy, lacquer finished cabinets can last for roughly a decade.
  • Protecting the wood from the inside out is possible because of the lacquer seal. You can protect fading kitchen cabinets by applying a fresh coat of lacquer.
  • The sheen of lacquer can range from a sheer stain-like tint to a solid-color paint-like shine.
  • Lacquer sprays on properly because it melts into the kitchen cabinets, leaving a silky-smooth finish with no brush strokes.
  • Using lacquer on stained woodwork is also an option.

At room temperature, lacquer finishes dry in 15 minutes or less, making it possible to spray many coats in one day. Please use a soft cloth or microfiber cloth and non-abrasive detergent to clean lacquer kitchen cabinets, which means low maintenance work.

Many use lacquer because of options. For example, cat lacquer by General Finishes is actually catalyzed lacquer, an evaporation drying process that is cured by the reaction from the added catalyst.

General Finishes Enduro Pre-Cat Lacquer, 1 Gallon, Semi-Gloss

You can remove high gloss lacquer stains from kitchen cabinet doors by diluting the alcohol with water.

The Drawbacks of Lacquered Kitchen Cabinetry:

Avoid using abrasive lotions and steel wool pads to prevent permanent damage to lacquer kitchen cabinets. These products can discolor and discolor the lacquer.

When placed beneath a hanging cabinet, lacquer begins to break down around the stove, sink, and coffee maker since lacquer cannot withstand water, heat, or steam.

  • Lacquer kitchen cabinets do not resist chemicals, including salt and water.
  • It’s possible that lacquer will dry with a milky-white blotch if it’s not applied correctly. Spraying lacquer in high humidity may cause this flushing to appear.
  • Wood expands or shrinks due to its natural response to moisture absorption or temperature changes. Because lacquer is so brittle, even the most minor movements can cause it to break.

Much maintenance is required to keep lacquer kitchen cabinetry looking its best. Cleaning the cabinets would necessitate the use of a furniture wax designed for lacquer surfaces. Additionally, lacquer kitchen cabinet surfaces are more susceptible to staining, and flaws on the surface, such as scratches and dents, are more noticeable.

Refinishing lacquered kitchen cabinets is more frequent.

The Buyer’s Manual

As you can see, the drying time, ease of application, and degree of protection provided by clear coats vary widely. When selecting a clear coat, keep the following in mind.

The Benefits of Clear Coats

If you’ve previously painted your cabinets with waterproof paint, applying a clear coat to protect the surface can seem pointless. Because of this, you must never ignore the importance of clear coating before painting.

Damage Protection

Your kitchen cabinets are constantly at risk of physical damage during cooking and eating, including scratching, chipping, and bumping from kitchen chairs. If young people and pets occupy time at home, the potential of damage to your cabinets is significantly greater. As a result, you want to do everything to protect them from harm.

Depending on the base and the chemicals used in the varnish, clear coats can provide varying levels of protection for your cabinets. The least amount of protection is available by oil-based clear coatings. The deeper the polymer soaks into the wood grain, the less durable the surface layer will be. Companies generally use oil to assist the polymer soak into the wood grain.

Because it cures mainly on top of your project, water-based polyurethane provides a little more protection than solvent-based polyurethane. These clear acrylic finishes spread across your cabinets and harden into plastic when they dry. It’s more protective to use polyurethane with acrylic than conventional polyurethane.

Enamel, which is more resistant to damage than acrylic and much more robust, is another option. Enamels can hang from any surface, including metal. Lacquers, which cure into thick, durable layers over your cabinets, provide the best defense.

Glistening Efficacy

Having a gloss on your kitchen cabinets can make them look more appealing. Unless they have a glossy clear coat, raw wood cabinets look rustic and unfinished, whereas painted cabinets sometimes appear flat and unprofessionally produced.

A clear coat will add a level of gloss that is just suitable for the finished product. When you go into a finished kitchen, it’s unlikely that you’ll notice the sheen on the cabinets, but if it’s lacking, it will be immediately apparent.

Because of this, I advise against using a matte finish on kitchen cabinetry. For a more polished look, choose a satin or semi-gloss shine.

Prevents Chipping

Paint exposed to heat and humidity tends to chip or flake. A clear coat will protect your cabinets from peeling paint and water spots, which are common occurrences in the kitchen, implying that your cabinets are protected from steam and other sources of moisture by most polyurethanes and lacquers. It will keep your cabinets looking new for more extended periods without the need for touchups because of the additional layer of protection they provide.

Prevent Paint Deterioration

UV blockers can be found in some goods, preventing ultraviolet light from damaging cabinet surfaces. If your kitchen gets exposed to sunlight often, these alternatives can help keep the wood or paint color from deteriorating.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the drying time for clear coats?

Using a clear coat can make a difference, and with only 10 minutes of drying time, the lacquer is ready for a second coat and can be applied in as little as an hour.

Oil-based polyurethane requires at least four hours of drying before you can apply a second coat, while water-based polyurethane requires at least two hours. If you want it to cure properly, the process takes longer. Water-based polyurethane takes 21 days to cure, while oil-based polyurethane takes 30 days.

When painting kitchen cabinets, which clear coat should I use?

You can use either interior or exterior polyurethane if the cabinets are inside the house, but interior polyurethane is the best choice. You should, however, only use external polyurethane if the cabinets are outside. Because of its unique properties, this is the only polyurethane you should use on outdoor woodwork.

Is it possible to coat unfinished kitchen cabinets with a clear coat?

You can apply a clear coat on unpainted and non-stained kitchen cabinets. If you want to preserve the wood’s natural beauty, you may wish to avoid staining it.

You must protect the painted surface from the sun, water, and heat damage with a clear coat. Additionally, topcoats are scratch and scuff-proof.

When applying a clear coat, do I need to wear safety gear?

Working with chemicals, especially clear coatings, necessitates using safety equipment.

Can I use a damp rag to clean the painted surface after a certain number of days?

Yes, but the paint continues to harden for two weeks after being applied. So you’ll want to wait.

Do painted kitchen cabinets need a clear coat?

Yes. This coating is essential to ensure that the paint won’t be readily scratched or scraped. Paint unprotected from the elements will dry, crack, and eventually begin to chip away. Finally, even the tiniest scrape will start to fade.

How to choose the right paint?

You must take the paint’s technical parameters into account. Make sure it’s appropriate for the task at hand. Manufacturers usually state conditions of usage. To get the best results, pay attention to the recommended tools.

When it comes to kitchen cabinets, what kind of finish is best?

Using low-gleam polyurethanes as a topcoat will reduce the shine of coatings underneath. Glossy finishes, on the other hand, are ideal for use in kitchen cabinetry.

How many coats of clear lacquer should I apply on cabinets to protect them?

I have applied three coats to my cabinets even though two would have sufficed.

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