In last post we talked about 5 Benefits of Painting the Furniture, and in today’s post we will talk about furniture paint classification, advantage and disadvantage and how to distinguish between.

Most people pay attention to the color, function and price when choosing wooden furniture, but few people pay attention to the lacquer surface of wooden furniture. In fact, wood lacquer is closely related to the color and environmental protection of wood furniture. The maintenance and renovation of wooden furniture also rely mainly on wood lacquer. If you also like wood furniture, you might as well know something about wood lacquer (furniture paint).

tree bookshelf

What is wood lacquer (furniture paint)?

Wooden lacquer is all the coatings that can be used on the surface of wood and can be divided into three categories: water-based paint, oil-based paint and wood wax oil.
It has two main functions, one is to make furniture beautiful, the other is to protect furniture and reduce the impact of pollution or dry and wet changes.
The surfaces of solid wood veneer furniture, multi-layer solid wood composite, three-layer solid wood composite and pure solid wood furniture on the market are all painted (of course, they are painted when they are produced).

1.Water based paint

Waterborne coating is a kind of coating with water as dispersion medium, which is nontoxic, pollution-free, ultra-low VOC content and very environment-friendly.The latex paint we often use is also one of the water-based paints.

Children's room furniture should choose water-based paint, especially for children's wooden toys. Water-based wood paint or wood wax oil are both environment-friendly for kids health.

Who said that water paint is not as good as oil paint?

Many people have prejudice against water-based paint.
It is believed that water-based paint cannot compare with oil-based paint in hardness, abrasion resistance and scratch resistance.
In fact, otherwise, water-based paint is also divided into few categories.
Low-grade water-based paint uses acrylic acid as the main raw material and has low performance, which brings some shame for water-based paint.
The mid-range water-based paint uses the compound of acrylic acid and water-based polyurethane as the main raw material to improve its hardness, but its chemical properties (such as poor alcohol and alkali resistance) are still relatively low.
Acrylic acid modified waterborne polyurethane is used as the main raw material for high-grade waterborne paint. Its physical and chemical properties are very strong, and some indexes even exceed those of oily paint.

How to distinguish water paint from oil paint?

It is still difficult for laymen to distinguish it by naked eyes.
The safest way is: when purchasing furniture, it is recommended to ask the guide for the "product instruction manual" and "test report" as much as possible, and check whether the paint column is marked with water-based paint. you will understand after reading.
Although there are so many benefits, the wood coatings market is still dominated by oil-based paints.
One factor is the money. The price of good quality water-based paint is too high and the performance of bad water-based paint is not good.

2.Oil-Based Paints

Solvent-based paint (oily paint/paint) is a kind of paint with organic solvent as dispersion medium.Organic solvents are mainly hydrocarbons, and the rest are ketones, alcohols, glycols, ethers, esters, nitro branched alkanes, etc. These volatile organic compounds are the main causes of paint damage to the environment and health.The full name of  VOC we commonly use is Volatile Organic Compounds, which refers to the content of volatile organic compounds.

Although the environmental protection performance is not good, oil-based paint still has many inherent advantages:

  • attractive gloss
  • hard durable finish
  • low purchase price
  • good besmear brush ability
  • flexible coating film,
  • good permeability
  • high durability and rich finish

Oil-based paint can be used on almost all surfaces, and due to its has so many advantage, that is why most people have reason to accept oil-based paints to decor furniture.

Oil-based paints can be divided into many types. Any PU paint, NC paint, UV paint, PE paint are all oil-based paints … Don’t be frightened when you hear others pull these words that sound lofty.

2.1 Varnish

Varnish is a transparent paint that does not contain pigments, so it can show the original wood grain of wood products.
The disadvantages are that the coating film has low hardness, poor heat resistance and is easy to turn yellow under the action of ultraviolet light.

2.2 PU paint

PU paint is the most commonly used paint in China.

It has good comprehensive performance, such as construction performance, filling property, fullness, hardness, sanding property, scratch resistance, etc.

There are many choices of PU paint, including bright, matte, solid, transparent …But the environmental protection of PU paint is relatively poor. It dries slowly after brushing, and the solvent volatilizes during the drying process, which is harmful to health.  The room in which such new furniture is placed should be regularly ventilated.

PU paint

2.3 NC paint

NC paint (nitrocellulose paint) is less greasy and more natural than other oily paints.
In particular, nitro varnish has a color close to the natural color of wood and will not turn yellow.
Moreover, NC paint is a typical quick-drying paint, which is easy to apply and can be dried in more than ten minutes. The solvent volatilizes quickly. Compared with PU paint, NC paint is easy to disperse and clean. It is an environmentally friendly player in oil-based paint.
However, the heat resistance and chemical corrosion resistance of nitrocellulose paint film are not as good as PU paint. It is hard, brittle, easy to crack, not heat resistant and not corrosion resistant.

2.4 PE paint

Polyester paint (PE paint) is a thick paint made of polyester resin as the main film-forming substance.
Polyester paint's paint film is full and hard, which results in high brightness and high gloss of PE paint.
Apart from ugliness, polyester paint also has one big shortcoming, namely, it is easy to turn yellow.

2.5 UV paint

UV curable wood paint (UV paint) is a paint full of scientific and technological sense and modern sense.
Typical features are: bright colors and brightness!
Although it looks grandiose, it is the most environmentally friendly paint with a solid content of nearly 100% and no solvent volatilization.
UV paint is generally used on board products and is not suitable for solid wood furniture. When the natural expansion and contraction of wood are slightly larger, the surface paint will crack.

3. Wood wax

Wood was is vegetable oil composition, and it is the most environmentally friendly of all. Honestly, It is one of the rising star in solid wood furniture industry.
The Rising Star of Ran Ran in Solid Wood Furniture Industry.
Health, environmental protection and natural texture make it more and more popular and have become the future development trend.
The main composition of wood wax oil is vegetable oil, while iron oxide and other pigments are used for color matching, thus eliminating toxic and harmful volatiles such as benzene, formaldehyde from the raw materials. And the environmental protection performance of the wood wax oil therefore exceeds that of water-based paint.
Moreover, wood wax oil consumes less environmental resources and is more beneficial to ecology and health, both in terms of manufacture and use.

Natural Texture and Strong Durability.

Wood wax oil and other paint have different protection principles. Wood wax oil is open and the other paint is closed, and wood wax oil is natural texture and have strong durability.

Other paint is to protect wood products through totally enclosed paint film. Usually, a plastic paint film is formed on the surface of wood, making any wood feel like a cold polymer material.

However, wood wax oil permeates into the wood, uses the flexibility of the wood itself to resist abrasion, does not form a paint film on the surface, can fully display the natural texture of the wood, and retains the warm touch of wood products.


As shown in the above picture, the molecules of wood wax oil are relatively “thin” and can “drill” into the tiny pores on the surface of wood.The oil component can penetrate into the wood to moisten and maintain the wood and maintain the elasticity of natural wood.Wax components are firmly combined with wood fibers to prevent liquid water from penetrating into wood and increase the hardness and smoothness of wood surface.And no paint film is formed on the surface of the wood, so that the wood can breathe naturally and is not easy to crack, become warped and fall off.

The molecules of oil-based paint and water-based paint are “fat” and cannot penetrate into the wood fibers. They are squeezed on the surface of the wood and form a thick paint film, which blocks the contact between the wood surface and air and water. However, this also causes the wood to be unable to breathe, so it is easy to crack, cock and fall off.

Disadvantages of Wood Wax Oil

Wood wax cannot hide the ugly.

It has no hiding power, and it will deepen the color difference of the wood itself, making the defects such as furuncle scar more obvious. However, if the paint is applied, whether it is water-based paint or oil-based paint, the thick paint film can cover the original small defects on the wood.


Wood wax oil is limited in application.

The protection principle of wood wax oil determines that it is only applicable to solid wood, and wood wax oil is powerless for wood panels, density boards particle board etc which are widely used in the market.

 How to distinguish it is wood wax oil or paint?

Wood wax oil is an open painting method, which can fully display the details of wood and retain the natural uneven grain of wood, so the touch is rough.

However, the paint will form a paint film on the wood surface, and when the paint film is thick to a certain extent, it will produce higher gloss.

Therefore, the tactile sensation is smoother, and the gloss looks higher.  However, you cannot feel the natural texture of wood to the touch. Compared with wood painted with wood wax oil, you will feel fake.

The following picture shows the comparison between wood wax oil and paint finish. The board in hand is painted.


So which paint is best?

Environmental protection:

wood wax oil > water paint > oil paint.


Wood wax oil does not form paint film on the surface of wood, and infiltrates wood from the inside to increase its strength, so that wood can breathe naturally and is not easy to crack, cock and fall off.Furniture brushed with wood wax oil is also easy to renovate. If properly maintained, it will be fine for the next generation.

Oil-based paint and water-based paint form a thick paint film on the surface of the wood, blocking the contact of the wood surface with air and water, and playing a very good protective role in a short period of time, but this also causes the wood to be unable to breathe, and is easy to crack, become warped and fall off over time.

Therefore, wood wax oil > water paint = oil paint

Appearance and touch: 

Wood products coated with wood wax oil look rough, feel fine texture and have wood temperature.

Oil-based paint (water-based paint) is relatively smooth and glossy, does not feel the natural texture of wood, and has no temperature sense. So it depends which one you prefer.

Hardness and wear resistance:

Wood wax oil: although wood wax oil has no surface paint film, the wax it contains can strengthen wood fiber and improve surface hardness, but its hardness and abrasion resistance will still be slightly inferior to paint and water-based paint.

Oil-based paint: The thick paint film after painting is quite hard and wear-resistant.

Water-based paint: middle and low-grade waterborne paint is inferior to oil-based paint, and the hardness of high-grade water-based paint is equivalent to oil-based paint.

Therefore, oil-based paint ≥ water paint > wood wax oil

Weather resistance:

Wood Wax Oil: All-round King.It is suitable for various climatic conditions such as dryness, humidity, high temperature and low temperature, and has the functions of water proofing, moisture proofing, corrosion prevention and insect prevention.

Oil-based paint and water-based paint: poor weather resistance, easy expansion, cracking and warping when exposed to water.

Therefore, wood wax oil > oil paint ≥ water paint