What are the Best Surfaces for Sprayed Lacquer Finishes?
Lacquer is a versatile product that makes an excellent surface coating for a variety of materials. Wood, metal, even synthetic materials like 3D printed plastics and PVC take well to a lacquer finish provided a proper primer is used. Cabinet-making materials like natural wood and fabricated composites like MDF perform exceptionally well with lacquer finishes, and can be sanded and cleaned properly to guarantee a proper cure.
Many of our clients ask us if sprayed lacquer will look good on certain materials in their home, or if the finish will look the same across multiple types of wood. So today, we’ll discuss the most common interior surfaces that we encounter and how a sprayed lacquer finish holds up across the board.
Where lacquer is not appropriate is where the surface being painted can bend or more. Lacquer products have no flexibility. Applied over something that will bend it will simply shatter. Think of products like glass or concrete, while very durable to handling, it will have absolutely no pliability.
Older homes built prior to the 2000s commonly used natural, grained wood like oak and maple in their construction. Bannister rails, trim, crown moulding and cabinetry were built using sturdy, high quality wood with a natural colour or light stain. A solid finish lacquer coating will update and preserve the wood substrate. This is beneficial for clients who choose not to undergo the hassle and expense of replacing cabinets or trim in their home.
Sprayed lacquer adds a protective coating that can extend the life of the wood by as much as ten or fifteen years. Spraying your existing cabinets saves the cost of new cabinets and carpentry and is significantly less expense and time consuming than replacing with a new kitchen. If your home is laden with oak or maple trim and cabinetry, sprayed lacquer is a great way to quickly and easily update the entire look and feel of your home’s interior.
Cabinet makers and renovation companies love using composite wood materials like MDF, or medium-density fibreboard, for cabinetry and built-in features. This engineered wood product is a combination of wood fibres, wax and resin, then cured with heat and pressure. Medium-density is the most cost effective, easy to mould and the right strength and density for cabinet doors and boxes. MDF is easily sanded, primed and provides a beautifully smooth, sleek surface that shows off the colour and vibrance of a lacquer finish. MDF also does not shrink or warp in the way that solid wood can. It is, however, less moisture resistant and requires a solid coating to protect it.
For clients that want to extend their kitchen space, add cabinetry boxes or fill in the space between the upper cabinets and the ceiling line, MDF is common choice for building out features. Combine that with a new painted finish and an older kitchen space can easily be enlarged and transformed. Properly executed, you won’t be able to tell where the old cabinets stopped and the new cabinets begin.
Melamine & Edge Tape
Many homes we work in feature cabinetry made from particle board that is dressed with a melamine surface and edge tape. Melamine is an organic compound, but can be mixed with agents to produce melamine resins; thermosetting plastics that create a durable and decorative laminate coating. Melamine is easily sanded with a power sander and takes well to sprayed lacquer, much the same way MDF will. The end result is a near perfect smoothness and sheen, free from imperfections. These surfaces will sometimes peel back however, revealing the particle board underneath. We fix this using a heavy duty wood filler that seals off and smooths the particle board.
Sprayed lacquer is an excellent surface coating to seal off and protect the melamine base layer and extend the lifetime of your cabinetry by as much as a decade or more.
Best Surfaces for Sprayed Lacquer
It is hard to characterize the “best” surface for lacquer, as the versatility of the product allows most surfaces to produce the intended end result of a sprayed lacquer finish. When sprayed, natural woods like oak and maple produce a nice blend between a grain surface design and the modern, silky smooth finish of lacquer. Composite surfaces like MDF and melamine produce arguably the truest sprayed lacquer finish, one that is flawlessly smooth and consistent simply due to the lack of natural defects present in real wood. Although, a sprayed lacquer finish can repair and hide significant damage as well as natural irregularities. Regardless of the surface material, sprayed lacquer will produce a durable and protective coating that is elegant, stylish and durable for any home feature, trim or cabinetry area.