Pre-Catalyzed Lacquer Odors

Pre-cat lacquers do create an odor that fades over time, so some finishers prefer to use waterborne finishes for drawer and cabinet interiors. September 11, 2006

I've been using precat lacquers for insides and drawers. I have a customer who is complaining about the smell. The finish is a week old. It's never been a problem before - what do you guys think?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor A:
Lacquer smells. It's just part of the business. Homeowners always complain about the smell, some are more vocal than others. It will die down in 30 days or so. My company has started adding fragrance (vanilla) to our products to help with this problem.

From contributor B:
I always remind my clients that the finish will have a smell for a few days to a few weeks depending on how long it has been curing in my shop. I also ask them if they want their drawer insides to be sealed or raw, telling them the advantages and disadvantages of both. There is not much you can do about it now. Just tell them to not use the drawers for now and leave them open slightly for off-gassing purposes.

From the original questioner:
I know the feeling, and sometimes the smell doesn't go away even after a week unless all the drawers and doors are open constantly. However and some may not like this idea but sometimes I just cut up some aromatic cedar, rip it and cut it fresh so the aroma is new and put a piece or two in every drawer and a few in each box. It hides the smell of lacquer and smells kind of nice too!

From contributor B:
Just use a good waterborne on all the interior drawers and cupboards. It cures fast, with minimal smell.

From contributor C:
I use water based finishes almost exclusively. I use the Target Coatings products and there is hardly even any odor applying the stuff and almost no smell after about a day. In fact, if you spray it on amber bamboo you get the sweet smell of caramel in the shop.

From contributor D:
I use water base on all interiors now. No smell, no fuss and it dries fast.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor E:
I to have had some customers comment or complain about the odors of our Precat Lacquers and even our conversion varnish finishes as well. I am currently using Valspar products, and I did purchase an additive called "Odor Mask" in a Citrus sent. It can be added to stains, sealers, glazes, and clearcoats. I am currently adding it to the wipe stains, and I am in the process of testing it in my precat. Any industrial mfg would more than likely have something similar.