The term lacquer
is used for a number of hard and potentially shiny finishes applied to materials such as wood or metal. These fall into a number of very different groups.
The term lacquer
originates from the Sanskrit
(लाक्षा) representing the number 100,000, which was used for both the lac insect
(because of their enormous number) and the scarlet resinous secretion, rich in shellac
, that it produces that was used as wood finish in ancient India and neighbouring areas.
, which may be called "true lacquer", are objects coated with the treated, dyed and dried sap of Toxicodendron vernicifluum
or related trees, applied in several coats to a base that is usually wood. This dries to a very hard and smooth surface layer which is durable, waterproof, and attractive in feel and look. Asian lacquer is sometimes painted with pictures, inlaid with shell and other materials, or carved
, as well as dusted with gold
and given other further decorative treatments.
In modern techniques, lacquer means a range of clear or pigmented coatings
that dry by solvent evaporation to produce a hard, durable finish. The finish can be of any sheen level from ultra matte
to high gloss
, and it can be further polished as required. Lacquer finishes are usually harder and more brittle than oil-based or latex paints, and are typically used on hard and smooth surfaces.
In terms of modern finishing products, lac-based finishes are likely to be referred to as shellac
, while lacquer refers to synthetic polymers
such as nitrocellulose
, cellulose acetate butyrate
("CAB"), or acrylic resin
dissolved in lacquer thinner
, a mixture of solvents
such as ketones
, methoxypropyl acetate
), aromatic hydrocarbons
), and alcohols
. Synthetic lacquer is more durable than shellac.