Choosing the right wood coating for furniture

There are a number of different paint systems on the market for painting or lacquering wooden furniture and each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Whether you are painting kitchen furniture, bathroom fittings, tables, chairs or display equipment, there are products that will help you get the best finish you need. To aid you in choosing the correct coating, we have explained some of the differences below.  


This is a coating that dries by evaporation but then cures by the reaction of the catalyst that is in the product. Previously nitrocellulose was used which was also a very fast evaporating product, but it didn't go through the curing process and could be dissolved again in the same solvent.  The Pre-Catalysed material does provide a more durable finish than nitro cellulose; and is ideal for occasional furniture that will not face heavy traffic, or for display stands and shopfitting equipment that will have a short life span.  Pre-Catalysed finishes are easy to apply, repair and are economical in price.


These paints and lacquers have similar properties to Pre-Catalysed but use an acid to crosslink the paint. Crosslinking means that molecules of resins become bonded together into a larger more durable molecule. This has made them attractive to be used in kitchen environments where traffic is heavier, and a more durable finish is required. The disadvantage of Acid Catalyst products is the presence of Formaldehyde in the resin which is a respiratory irritant that causes chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing, nose and throat irritation and can also cause cancer.  We would recommend the use of an air fed breathing mask to be used at all times when spraying acid catalysed paints or lacquers.


Polyurethane coatings are particularly recommended for furniture and joinery that is subject to high levels of traffic and wear & tear. It has excellent chemical, water and physical resistance and can be used in kitchen and bathroom environments.  It is formaldehyde free and is available from a dead matt 5% gloss to a 97% wet look gloss finish.  

Water Based

The rising costs of legislation relating to solvent emissions has led to the development of high quality and performance water-based coatings for timber. The advantages of water based is that they are very low odour and are a non-hazardous waste which means disposal is very simple and economical.  The traditional disadvantages have been extended drying times, poor clarity and limited durability.  However this has now been eliminated by some of the manufacturers by using the very latest technology.

Need some more help with Choosing the Right Wood Coatings?

Why not get some help from our Wood Coatings Specialists at Ultrimax, who can advise you on the Best Wood Coating for you!

If you can't find a solution, give us a call and we'll help guide you in the right direction.

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