Clear Liquid Lacquer Vs. Acrylic

Written by marie-pier rochon
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Clear Liquid Lacquer Vs. Acrylic
Mix paint with water to see if it's acrylic based. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

When you make painting a hobby, it can take time to understand the differences between various types of paints and other materials. Often, it's by trial and error that you figure out the materials that work best for your style. Distinguishing clear liquid lacquer from acrylic is sometimes difficult simply because they can be mixed in together.

Clear Liquid Lacquer

Lacquer is a solution of film-forming materials, natural or synthetic, usually applied as an ornamental or protective coating, according to the Columbia Encyclopedia. It's used as a protective coat on cars, furniture, fabrics, metals and paintings. Coloured lacquers exist, but they are most often transparent. Other names used to make reference to lacquer include glaze, enamel, varnish, veneer, gloss, polish and finish.


The Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art defines acrylic as a modern synthetic paint, made with a resin derived from acrylic acid, that combines some of the properties of oils and watercolour. Acrylic paint can be applied to a variety of materials and dries very quickly, which makes it harder to remove than oil paints. It varies in colour and, although typically somewhat transparent, you can find metallic and fluorescent tints of intense colours in acrylic paints.


In a way, acrylic is a type of lacquer in itself, since it refers to a substance used in paint which is also present in acrylic lacquers. In the past, experts wrongly believed that paints were either made of lacquer when formulated with chemical solvents, or made of acrylic when water was used as a solvent. However, some products are made of both acrylic and lacquers and not 100 per cent water based.


The main different between a clear liquid lacquer and an acrylic is that clear liquid is primarily used to add a protective layer, while acrylic can either be combined to the clear liquid or exist on its own to add a tint to an object. Because of the natural properties of acrylic, it acts like a lacquer in the sense that it adds a protective coat to an object. Finally, a clear liquid is devoid of colour and transparent when dry, while an acrylic can be both transparent and opaque depending on its tint, its colours and the quantity used.

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