Changes in the art of wood-finishing has come about through the rapid advancement in the development of quick-drying, very lasting, nitrocellulose lacquer paints which are new finishes derived from the realm of magic and mystery. Present-day lacquer paints comprise of varnish-gums in addition to nitrocellulose, and dry so quickly that they are just about dust-proof; yet they set gradually enough so that they can be smeared with little training by use of either a brush or a spray-gun.
The lacquer is basically a clear or colored varnish that dries up rapidly as a hard and long-lasting finish. It may range from being ultra-matte to high glossed. . The lacquer paint was introduced by the Chinese for making myriad decorative items and handicrafts. Wooden structures of temples, communal houses, and pagodas were red-lacquered and trimmed with gold in the early centuries. Similarly, altars, pillars, panels etc. were lacquered with brilliant sparkling colors. Lacquer, in its raw form, is a clear sap derived from the bark of six species of trees grown in the North and South Vietnam. Fresh lacquer is whitish and turns brown when exposed to air.
Almost all of the large paint and varnish manufacturers are now making lacquer paints, which in some cases are being unwisely publicized as appropriate for nearly all purposes. In the hands of a skilled finisher lacquer paint produce pleasing effects, but when a novice attempts to spread them with a brush over newly varnished surfaces, there is sure to be trouble because the solvents in the lacquer are similar to those contained in some of the paint and varnish removers and the newly applied coating reacts with the old, resulting in a spoiled finish.
Lacquer paint finishes have grown in popularity on wood frames, fireplace designs, and designer window toppers, wooden cabinets and, when used properly by one who understands them and their limitations, they are attractive and durable and possess many good qualities.
Clear or transparent lacquers contain five types of ingredients: nitrocellulose or pyroxylin, varnish resins, solvents, plasticizers and dilutents or thinners. Pigmented lacquers (for use on everything from fireplace accessories and wood frames to wall painting boards) are often called lacquer enamels. These enamels contain one extra ingredient. They must give obscuration or hiding power and to give this opacity various kinds of pigments and coloring matter are added to the lacquer. Pigments and coloring-matter may therefore be considered as the sixth type of ingredient found in lacquer paints. The lacquers of the present day usually contain a nitrocellulose of rather low viscosity and certain resins which, when combined, produce a film that is much like a varnish in body or solid matter. The distinctive ingredient in a modern lacquer, that makes it quite different in behavior from other varnish like materials, is given various names, such as nitrocellulose, cellulose nitrate, soluble cotton, and pyroxylin. Lacquer paint is been in use for over a century now but its significance and beauty has not mellowed down over the years, instead it is well appreciated in the present day for its durability and beauty.