Lacquer Kitchen Cabinets Pros and Cons

Welcome to our guide to lacquer kitchen cabinets pros and cons including what they are, different styles, paint to use and where to buy.Modern white lacquer kitchen cabinets with silver hardware quartz waterfall island barrel back bar stools

Kitchens are the heart of every home wherein the kitchen cabinets embody the kitchen’s uniqueness and character. Lacquer cabinets bring their own unique characteristics to your kitchen design.

Lacquer provides a smooth level finish that looks attractive with practically limitless amounts of colors to choose from.[toc]

What Are Lacquer Kitchen Cabinets?

White lacquer kitchen cabinets with black synthetic granite corner sink

One of the biggest trends in kitchen cabinetry is the lacquer finish. It creates a visual impact and contrast as well as offers a unique texture and can easily become the focal point of your kitchen.

Lacquer is a solvent-based product that creates a synthetic coating on surfaces in order to form a high gloss shine. A lacquer finish is the process by which several thin layers of paint are applied to wood kitchen cabinet panels and provide an opaque, rich, and even matte or glossy finish.

Lacquer is breathable, waterproof, and has a highly resistant nature, making it the perfect option for kitchen cabinets.

Do not confuse lacquer finish with varnish. While both provide a shiny and glossy finish, lacquers can be both clear or colored, while varnish tends to be completely transparent. Lacquers are available in three types of finishes – matte, medium, and high-gloss finish.

The pros and cons of using lacquers are very important to consider if you plan to upgrade or refinish your kitchen cabinets and storage capacity.

Lacquer cabinetry can give you the look of your dream kitchen for an affordable price but may not provide the long-term benefits that those of other top finishes can provide.

Now, we will discuss lacquer kitchen cabinets pros and cons, starting with the advantages.

Lacquer Cabinets Pros

Contemporary kitchen with gray lacquer cabinets gold hardware white quartz countertops gold pendant lights

Durability – Lacquer-finished cabinetry is highly durable and resistant to damage, particularly from acid, alkali, water, and abrasions. This finish provides a tough surface and has the capability of lasting longer without flaking issues, unlike cupboards done in varnish, shellac, natural oil stains, and polyurethane.

Keeps Its Color – This finish remains clearer longer while the other finish options tend to become yellowish.

Long Lasting – Another advantage of lacquered finishes is that they are hard and durable and can last for about a decade. Once sealed, the finish protects the wood from inside-out. Applying a new coat or two on your cabinets before they start to fade can help preserve their appearance.

Different Sheens – The coating can have a sheer tint like a stain or a sheen that is like a solid color paint.

Can Be Sprayed On – The finish can be applied perfectly when sprayed since it melts into the surface, giving it a quality finish that feels quite like the silky-smoothness of high-gloss with no brushstrokes.

Can Be Used On Stained Wood – Lacquers can also be used on stained woodwork.

Dries Fast – The finish dries very quickly in as little as 15 minutes at room temperature, making it possible to spray multiple coats in one day.

Easy to Maintain – Easy maintenance since these surfaces can be cleaned with a soft cloth or a microfiber fabric and non-abrasive detergents.

Can Be Cleaned With Household Materials – For stubborn stains on high-gloss surfaces, you can use a highly diluted ethyl alcohol.

Lacquer Cabinets Cons

Kitchen with white lacquer cabinets white quartz hexagon shaped tile backsplash wood flooring

Can Discolor From Certain Chemicals – Avoid using acetone, thinner, trichloroethylene, ammonia, abrasive creams, and steel wool pads on these surfaces as these can discolor and could scratch the doors beyond repair. These finishes do not resist chemicals at all, including salt and water.

Sensitive to Heat and Steam – The finish begins to breakdown first around the stove, sink, and by the coffee maker if placed underneath a hanging cabinet, since lacquer cannot hold up well to water, heat, or steam.

Can Blotch If Not Applied Right – If not applied properly, lacquers may have some blushing on the surface as they dry – you will immediately see milky-white blotch. This blushing can occur when spraying lacquer-coating during high humidity.

Can Crack When Exposed to Moisture – The natural response of wood when it absorbs moisture or when there is an occurrence of temperature change – the wood expands or contracts. These small movements are enough to make the finish crack since it is so brittle.

High Maintenance to Maintain Its Shine – Lacquers require high levels of maintenance to keep it shining. A furniture wax formulated especially for lacquered surfaces would be needed in cleaning the cabinets.

Scratches and Dents Are Noticeable – These cabinetry finishes are also prone to staining in the long run, and imperfections on the surface are easily seen, such as scratches and dents.

Requires More Refinishing – These surfaces are required to be refinished more often.

High Gloss Lacquer Kitchen Cabinets

Luxury kitchen high gloss lacquer cabinets quartz countertops modern gold chandelier

High-gloss lacquer kitchen cabinets are more popular nowadays than they were in the 1970s when it was last trending since it is more suited to a contemporary style kitchen with flat cabinet façade.

High-gloss cabinet doors and drawer faces have a shiny finish that reflects light, which makes it so popular in modern kitchen design schemes.

Since high-gloss cabinets have a shiny finish that reflects light, it helps to make the kitchen space feel bigger and more open. This makes the polished cabinets an excellent choice for small kitchen spaces.

On the other hand, reflecting the light too much also makes fingerprints, dirt, and scratches more noticeable; not to worry because high-gloss surfaces are really easy to clean.

Use a non-scratch microfiber cloth to clean the cabinet doors and drawer faces since it will easily pick up any dust particles on the door’s surface.

White Lacquer Kitchen Cabinets

Deciding on a color for cabinets is not always easy, but nothing brings light and a sense of space to a kitchen like white lacquer.

White high-gloss kitchen cabinets are the most popular, most comfortable color to maintain. White lacquered cabinetry in a high-gloss finish is the most practical color to use since it looks clean and modern.

Contemporary kitchen with white lacquer cabinets calacatta quartz countertop pendant lights

The contemporary kitchen above features white lacquered cabinets with matching Calacatta quartz countertops.

White lacquer shows fewer fingerprints than any other color. White is the number one favorite color of homeowners for their cabinets because white can be both beautiful, modern look, stylish and sophisticated for kitchens.

These cabinetry products are very affordable, and if you are buying from a store, they are often in-stock items, making them very convenient for homeowners. Plus, re-ordering or replacement can easily be done without waiting for weeks. See more white kitchen cabinet ideas here.

Lacquer Paint for Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen with diy painted white lacquer cabinets

When it comes to long-term durability and hardness, using pre-catalyzed lacquer has excellent and superior results. A catalyst is similar to epoxy hardener, and so when added to lacquer, it dries harder especially when fully cured.

One example is the Hi-Bild pre-catalyzed lacquer and primer surfacer from Sherwood product line at Sherwin Williams.

Other main types of lacquers which are being used to paint kitchen cabinets includes:

• Nitrocellulose lacquers
• Acrylic lacquers
• Water-based lacquers

Read more about timeless kitchen cabinet colors on this page.

Lacquer vs Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Modern kitchen black high gloss lacquer cabinets wood grain island chrome lighting

• The chemical resistance of lacquers is a lot better than paint. Food spills and fingerprints wipe off easily from their surfaces without compromising the finish. While paint loses its gloss from cleaning too much or from using chemical cleaners. A clear coat over painted cabinets can be applied for protection, but with lacquered surfaces, a separate clear coat is not required at all.

• The added catalyst in catalyzed lacquer, makes the coating dry harder, making the surface smoother. Paint, on the other hand, dries softer and marks easier when handling freshly painted cabinets; darker paints dry slower as well.

• Dry time of pre-catalyzed lacquer is faster without marking the finish; while paint usually must dry overnight or longer. The fast dry time of using lacquers is a game-changer for completing your remodel project than if you were using paint.

• One of the disadvantages of using lacquers is its strong fume smell; a very good ventilation is an absolute must. The odor of paint is far less pungent.

Is Lacquer Good for Kitchen Cabinets?

Kitchen with light gray lacquer cabinets herringbone pattern brick backsplash wood flooring

Lacquer paint is often chosen for kitchen cabinets because it gives a sleek, modern, and elegant look for your kitchen cabinetry.

Lacquer paint offers excellent impact resistance and flexibility. In addition it offers a superior clear coat shine, water-resistant, breathable and chip resistant type of finish which is a best choice for kitchen cabinetry.

One big advantage of using lacquer paint on cabinetry is that it is very fast drying and this makes it easy to apply a second coat.

Unlike other resin finishes, lacquers require no mixing or preparation. It doesn’t require any special tools or techniques. You can use either brush or use a paint sprayer, both will cure perfectly.

When applied properly and under regular conditions, lacquer paint can outlast polyurethane, varnish, shellac or stains since it penetrate deeper into the wood for a longer lifespan.

There are three types of lacquer finish – matte finish, medium finish (semi-gloss) and a high gloss finish for better shine.

For kitchen cabinets, the best choice is the semi-gloss or high gloss finish. The sheen on these types of finishes will help reflect and are more durable in the long run.

Many semi-gloss and high-gloss lacquer paints have increased resiliency when being washed – often described as “washable”. This is because there are more resin and binders used in formulating semi-gloss and high-gloss lacquer paint giving more durability to the surfaces.

Matte, eggshell or flat finish lacquers are not as washable as semi-gloss or high-gloss finish and thus run the risk of rubbing through the paint when cleaning or scrubbing your cabinetry.

Lacquer Kitchen Cabinets Where to Buy?

Modern kitchen black lacquer cabinets white quartz island with under cabinet lights

• Ikea
Customer service: 1 (888) 888-4532

• 27estore
3325 W Ali Baba STE 602
Las Vegas, NV 89118
Call Us : (702) 508-4827
Email :

• Snaidero USA Headquarters
19700 South Vermont Avenue
Suite 102
Torrance, CA 90502
Tel: 310.516.8499
Fax: 310.516.9918

• GoldenHome
North America Department:

• Element Designs
235 Crompton Street
Charlotte, North Carolina 28273
United States

• UB Kitchens – Design and Cabinets
North Austin
2600 Longhorn Blvd, Suite 104
Austin, TX 78758
512.836.SAVE (7283)
512.836.7224 (F)

South Austin/SoCo
3114 South Congress Ave, Unit 101
(Parking next to Crowbar on Coleman)
Austin, TX 78704

San Antonio/Alamo Heights
7959 Broadway, #304
San Antonio, TX 78209

• Fabuwood
69 Blanchard St
Newark, NJ 07105

Do you see any lacquer kitchen cabinets pros and cons that are not listed here? Share your thoughts about this type of finish in the comments section. Visit this page to see more kitchen cabinet styles.

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