Difference Between Polyurethane and Lacquer

By: | Updated: Jul-21, 2021
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Wood coating is a process of coating or painting wood with a protective layer. The purpose of the coating is to protect the wood from moisture, insects, and other external factors. There are many types of coatings that can be applied on different kinds of woods. Two of the most common types of coatings are lacquer and polyurethane. Both of these coatings serve the same purpose to protect the wood. However, there are some differences between these two coatings.

In this article, we will discuss the differences between polyurethane and lacquer in detail. We will look at their meanings, what they are used for, their prices and their characteristics, how they protect the wood, and how they are related to each other. So let’s begin.

Summary Table

Polyurethane Lacquer
Is produced by a chemical reaction between urethane and polyol Is made from resin and oil
Usually a smooth finish that looks like a very glossy varnish A finish that has good gloss and protection from dirt and moisture
Is cheaper and easier to produce Is more expensive


Difference Between Polyurethane and Lacquer

Before we talk about the differences between “polyurethane” and “lacquer”, let’s first define what we mean by “polyurethane” and “lacquer.” To do this, we need to take a look back at the definitions and meanings of these two words starting from what they refer to; coating. Then, we will go on to discuss the different substances, the different ways of applying them, and the different ways they are used.

What is coating?

The word “coating” means a thin layer of material which is applied on top of another surface and protects it from damage or deterioration. It also adds an attractive and aesthetic look to the product. So, we can say that coating is the act of applying a layer of material to protect or enhance the surface. The substances used for coating are also called “coating”.

What is lacquer?

Lacquer means a liquid or semi-liquid substance that dries in seconds and protects the wood by forming a protective layer. Lacquer is also used for treating wood as it can provide protection from fungi and insects, as well as preventing the growth of mold.

What is polyurethane?

Polyurethane (also known as PU) is an organic polymer. It is a thermoplastic polymer which has been used in various industries since the 1950s, including interior decorating and automotive. It is also used as coating on furniture, floors, and walls. Polyurethane is a liquid which is mixed with other ingredients to form a solid material.

Polyurethane has many benefits such as being an environmentally friendly product, high durability and heat resistance, water resistance, odorless and flexible consistency.

It is also used in the construction of aircrafts as a coating for paint or protective layer on other materials. Polyurethane is used in many industries such as automotive, furniture and flooring industry.

How are they used?

Polyurethane is a liquid that is applied on wood surfaces. The type of polyurethane you choose depends on the look and durability you want to achieve. It can be applied by spraying, brushing or pouring it onto the surface of your furniture or wood product.

The type of polyurethane used depends on the application. You can use liquid polyurethane for furniture, car upholstery, cabinets and furniture.

Lacquer is also a liquid, but it is applied on the surface of your wood product by brushing or pouring in layers. As mentioned above, it is applied to prevent wood from rotting, termites and insects.

It is also used in the interior decorating industry for furniture, floors and walls. Lacquer can also be mixed with other materials such as polyurethane or epoxy resin to achieve the desired effect.

Polyurethane Vs. Lacquer:

As you may know, there are several words that have a similar meaning. For example, “polyurethane” and “lacquer” are terms that are used to describe coating materials that are applied to the surface of wood. Now, let’s take a look at the differences between “polyurethane” and “lacquer”.

  1. The type of coating

The main difference between polyurethane and lacquer is that “polyurethane” is a class of synthetic coatings, while “lacquer” is a product made from resin and oil. As for the type of coating, there are several types of polyurethane. For example, there is hard polyurethane, which is also called “polyester”, and there are soft polyurethane products that are used for applications like sealing furniture.

  1. The properties of the coating materials

There are several differences between polyurethane and lacquer in terms of their performance, strength, durability, flexibility, water resistance and other properties. For example, polyurethane is more flexible than lacquer. This means that polyurethane can be bent and not break easily, while lacquer is very hard and brittle. It is easy to crack or chip, which makes it a very bad material for exterior use.

  1. The price

In general, lacquer is more expensive than polyurethane because it requires more material to create a product. In addition, it takes longer to dry. However, polyurethane is a cheaper material, but it does not have the same performance as lacquer. Since it’s plastic, it will not absorb water and it does not have the same resistance to moisture as lacquer.

  1. The materials used

As mentioned above, lacquer is made from resin and oil, while polyurethane is produced by a chemical reaction between urethane and polyol. Therefore, polyurethane is usually a by-product of plastics production. This means that it can be easily found in large quantities, and there are many factories that produce polyurethane from the raw materials used in their production process.

In addition, polyurethane is also a chemical, which means that it can be easily used in other products. In this case, it will be necessary to follow certain safety rules and regulations in order to avoid accidental damage or contamination of other products.

On the other hand, lacquer is a material that is extracted from trees. Therefore, it takes a long time to be produced, and it will not be available in large quantities.

  1. The finishing

Polyurethane is usually a smooth finish that looks like a very glossy varnish. On the other hand, lacquer is often used as a finish that has good gloss and protection from dirt and moisture.

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