Difference Between Lacquer And Shellac: Main Comparison Between Lacquer & Shellac

Main Comparison Between Lacquer & Shellac

Lacquer, as well as shellac, are the two main types of finishes both of which produce glossy, high shine finishes. Both of these types of finishes will offer a great deal of protection for the wood in your home, however, there are also some of the important differences between them. Lacquer is more popular & well-known during the present era due to its durability, shellac was famous for pre-1960 furniture. One of the important differences between shellac and lacquer is the capability of shellac to shine as well as hold color. Actually, shellac is still being used as an overlay or cover for candies including Skittles because of this ability. Lacquer usually takes hold of the color of the wood it is placed on, on the other hand, shellac comes in a huge range of different colors.


  • Lacquer is regarded as one of the clear or colored varnishes that usually dries by solvent evaporation and mostly has a drying process as well. This will help produce a hard, long-lasting finish that can be glossy or matte, which will let you select the level of shine you want.
  • Lacquer, as well as shellac finish, can be polished further as per the user's desire. The finisher can have full control over the color and sheen, and lacquer stands up very well with the passage of time. It is easy to apply, polish, as well as repair, in order to make sure to get rid of the scuff marks easily, if any.
  • If necessary, you can easily strip & remove the lacquer finish, which in turn will give you choice if you are looking to apply another finish to the wood. It also sticks exceptionally well with successive layers of finish.
  • Lacquer is different from shellac in its ease of use. Shellac does not hold up well to the test of time, due to the reason that it can turn cloudy with age. It also disintegrates very easily with alcohol spills.


  • Shellac, on the other hand, is a flaky resin secreted by the female lac bug in order to form a cocoon. This bug is more often than not found on trees in the forests of India as well as Thailand, and its waxy resin is used to safeguard the cocoons for its larvae.
  • In order to get used in shellac, the resin is removed from trees, prepared & refined into flakes or powder, and combined or put together with an alcohol solvent.
  • This makes shellac extremely easy to apply, due to the reason that it dries quickly, all credit goes to the alcohol. Sadly, alcohol spills also make shellac vulnerable or prone to dissolving.
  • Shellac also dries to a high-gloss sheen, as may be expected, contrary to lacquer which must be polished. It is this high-gloss sheen that is usually found on the outside of drums. You can achieve a more matte finish with shellac by combining or putting together lac flakes with denatured alcohol. As shellac naturally contains an insignificant amount of wax, it is important to de-wax the shellac if coating it using a varnish.
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