Whether to Clear Coat Over Tinted Lacquer

On pine furniture, is it worth the cost to add a clear coat for durability over a tinted lacquer coat? September 27, 2008

When using tinted lacquers, is it necessary or even advisable to put a clear coat over the last tinted coat? Our product is very low price pine furniture. Our market is very competitive. So even though I know that a clear over the pigmented coat would be better, that doesn't necessarily mean it will yield us a higher price.

So far I have been first applying a sanding sealer, scuff sanding, then shooting the pigmented top coat. I have been very pleased with both the coverage and feel of just one tinted coat. So is it necessary to put a clear over that tinted coat? Will the pigmented coat start to chip and flake after a while if it's not top coated?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor P:
Tinted lacquers are more or less the same as their clear counterparts, so they're pretty much the same durability. Adding a clear topcoat will provide more protection, but it's not necessary.

From contributor J:
We use tinted lacquer all the time. We normally put down a coat of clear and get our color with a second thinned coat; (50% thinner/50%lacquer + toner). Then we top coat with another coat of clear. It's easier for us to control/build the color with the thinned coat I described above. Also, if you have your color on the top and you scratch or ding it, it's usually very noticeable and difficult to repair.

From contributor R:
I usually thin the shade coat 10 parts thinner to 1 part lacquer plus the shading color. Usually Mohawk ultra penetrating dye stain. After sanding the sealer the shading is done and a full topcoat is sprayed over the shading at the same time. This way any scratches, unless they are very deep won't take color off.

From contributor K:
I think the top coat is only going to be as strong as the wood it's covering. You’re dealing with pine. Your customers have to realize it takes nothing to mark, dent or scuff this wood so all you can do is use a top brand/quality lacquer and you've given the customer the best chance going out the door. After that, it's their responsibility to care for it.

You just can't compare the lacquer finish of an oak table to the same finish on pine. Any coating that doesn't have a dye or colorant in it is going to be marginally stronger than the same thing with color added. Also, check out your local Sherwin Williams store for their lacquer coatings. The clears don't yellow.