Lacquer vs Paint, which is better?

When it comes to refinishing older kitchen cabinets, which is better to use, lacquer or paint?

Below is an example of why we never use lacquer. This pigment lacquer cabinet door is only a few years old.

Chipping Flacking Lacquer

We realize pigment Lacquer and Acrylic cabinet coating takes a knack to do it well. Not everyone gets the same results as the next guy but one thing for certain, if something isn't prepared correctly the finish is sure to fail. 

When it comes to "kitchen cabinet painting" (refinishing older cabinets in modern colours) we always choose high quality Acrylic paint for a variety of reasons. PAINTING Guys have acrylic cabinet painting down pat. We have been painting kitchens for over 40 years.

  • Lacquer is extremely toxic
  • Acrylic paint is low to zero VOC
  • Lacquer yellows 
  • Acrylic paint does not yellow. 
  • Lacquer is brittle and cracks easier at the corner joints with expansion
  • Acrylic paint is far more flexible!
  • Lacquer touch-ups are impossible to seamlessly colour match because lacquer yellows over time
  • Acrylic paint is easy to touch up and does not yellow or degrade in the same negative way lacquer does.
  • Lacquer is highly explosive and toxic making it terrible to use onsite around static, gas furnaces, children, elderly and general public
  • Acrylic paint is a water base product very low in VOC, never a concern.
  • Lacquer requires special zoning regulations to spray, requires fire extinguishing and venting systems which all ends up costing clients more money for nothing gained
  • Acrylic paint is safe and sprays beautifully with glass-like finish and affordable.

It’s a myth lacquer is more durable than paint. We’ve being spraying acrylic paint on cabinets for years and have hundreds of happy clients. Our finishes are beautiful, glass smooth, hard enough and last for years. 

Acrylic paint is our choice when it comes to kitchen cabinet refinishing and painting.

Smooth finishing

We moved onto acrylic finishing when coloured kitchen cabinets painting became popular and low VOC became stable. It took us a few years to learn how to spray acrylic paint through hvlp sprayers. We have this down pat now.

Once we got the acrylic cabinet coating down, there simply was no return to lacquer or oil based products.
Don’t get us wrong... Lacquer is ideal for new cabinet coating because it is fast drying and easy to handle. It’s an ideal clear coat for natural wood cabinetry but when it comes to refinishing all older cabinets in occupied homes where there are families, elderly, children, gas furnaces and stoves etc... paint is a clear winner.
Lacquer is a serious liability around public.  It should be a banned product in our opinion and will likely be banned some day simply because of how green friendly water based paints are today.

Knowing this.. we simply could not continue using lacquer.