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Does Lacquer Yellow? (All You Need to Know)

When it comes to furnishing your home or moving into a new place you would want the best quality for all your products. You would also want them to last a very long time and look good over time as well. 

This might have you wondering if a lacquer finishing on your floors or furniture will cause it to yellow over time. Before using this finish it is best if you do your research to avoid furnishing again in the future. 

Does lacquer yellow?

Lacquer is a very popular finish nowadays, especially for expensive furniture. The best part about it is that it is very easy to maintain and will not get damaged by liquids. Besides that, it is also known for not yellowing over time as long as you are not using low-quality lacquer.  

There are many different types of lacquer present in the market. When you are going to buy it you have to ensure that you are buying one that is of good quality and does not have additives, or else there is a chance that your lacquer coating will turn yellow.  

Yellow overtime: 

There is a big chance that your lacquer will indeed start stunning yellow over time if you are using the wrong type of lacquer, to begin with. 

Nitrocellulose lacquer coatings present in the market nowadays are a big example of the low-quality lacquer that will initially give you a super nice finish but over time will start to turn yellow. 

There is also pre-catalyzed lacquer that many people adore. Even though it will turn yellow over time, it will take a while before the yellow really starts to show. Pre-catalyzed lacquers are known for maturing over time. 

There are also cab acrylic lacquers present in the market that does not yellow over time.  

Yellow in the sun: 

There is a chance that your lacquer might yellow in the sun if there is constant exposure. When it comes to yellowing in the sun, more often than not, nitrocellulose lacquer coatings are the common culprit for it. 

If you expose these coatings to too much air and sunlight then there is a big chance it will start to yellow very quickly and ruin the outlook of your furniture. However, there are many different lacquer coatings present in the market nowadays. 

If you make an informed purchase then these new types of coatings will have a good chance of not yellowing in the sunlight.  

Yellow wood: 

There is a natural yellowing that most wood furniture goes through that you cannot avoid. It is just how wood ages and lacquer cannot be blamed for it. 

However, if you are using cheap quality or nitrocellulose lacquer that is essentially made with additives to be cost-effective, then in that case there is a good chance that the natural yellowing of your wood will happen quicker than expected. 

Besides that, while quickening the yellowing process it will not allow it to mature naturally therefore it might be that appealing. To avoid all these, it is very important that you are applying water-based polyurethane to your furniture. 

Yellow white paint: 

The lacquer must be avoided if you have plans on coloring your furniture white, this is because lacquer does not work well with white paint and will eventually cause it to yellow. If you are considering painting your furniture white then avoid lacquer and varnish coatings. 

These will likely cause the white paint to be yellow. These types of coatings and finishes are best used in wood or wooden colors. 

Two reasons why lacquer turns yellow:

There are a few reasons to look out for if you are wondering why lacquer coatings can turn yellow eventually. 

Natural yellowing: 

Lacquer is known for naturally aging and having a yellow hue over time. Many people in fact find this particular feature attractive while many do not find it appealing. Especially if you are using older types of lacquer finishes then it will naturally be yellow. 

There are, however, newer types of lacquer coats present that have a lesser chance of yellowing. 

Pre-catalyzed lacquer: 

If you have moved into a house that has already been furnished and you start noticing yellowing then there is a high chance that pre-catalyzed lacquer was used. This is very popular because it is cheaper and more readily available. 

It is very durable and resistant to scratches and temperature changes which is why it is so popular. 

However, like the old lacquer coatings, these also tend to turn yellow over time because these lacquers are made using nitrocellulose lacquer which is known for turning yellow.

Does these lacquer yellow?

There are different types and brands of lacquer coatings available. It is important to know which ones are likely to yellow so that you can avoid them.  


Clear lacquer:

If the type of clear lacquer is pre-catalyzed then it will stay durable and resistant to being yellow for a good amount of time. However, like any other clear coat eventually, there is a chance that it will mature and start to yellow.  

Spray lacquer:

Even if you are using spray lacquer, if the type of lacquer itself is cheap then it will turn yellow. There are many new types of lacquer coats present in the market today that have a low chance of turning yellow over time. It is important that you use a good brand. 

Nitrocellulose lacquer:

Nitrocellulose is the most common type of lacquer and it is known for tuning yellow over time and is not durable either. Avoid nitrocellulose lacquer at all costs. 

White lacquer:

There is a higher chance of white lacquer yellowing over time, especially if an oil-based topcoat is used. 


Annie solan lacquer:

Annie solan’s lacquer is intensely strong and durable. However, it does showcase the wood’s underlying colors. As a result, it will cause a yellow hue if you use it over wood. 

Pre cat lacquer:

This type is the most common one in the market and is very popular for its durability and resistance. It is better than nitrocellulose and will resist yellowing for a long time but eventually, there will be a yellow hue showing up. 

Watco lacquer:

Watco lacquer has a very high gloss finish and it is also used on high-end furniture. It is said to not yellow over time.  

Deft lacquer:

Deft lacquer is a nitrocellulose lacquer and many people who have used it have expressed that it turns excessively yellow over time. 

Minwax lacquer:

Minwax lacquer is said to be fully clear and give a very nice finish and not yellow over time like other nitrocellulose lacquer. 

How do you keep lacquer from turning yellow?

There are some tips you can follow to prevent lacquer coats from turning yellow. 

Proper cleaning:

There are proper guidelines when it comes to cleaning your furniture, cabinets, or floors when they are coated with lacquer. You must avoid the inexpensive silicon cleaners that are readily available in the market. 

Those will very easily turn your lacquer yellow. Instead, use oil-based or water-based polishes so that you can resist your lacquer from yellowing very quickly. 


If your furniture or cabinets come into too much contact with UV rays then the process of yellowing quickens. If you can avoid the exposure by using curtains then your furniture and cabinets will stay clear for a long time. 

CAB finish:

Nowadays many people are shifting towards using a finish of CAB acrylic. This eliminates yellowing completely. If you use cheap lacquer or keep it bare then regardless of what you do it will naturally age and start to turn yellow. 

Consider using a CAB acrylic finish if you want to avoid your furniture and cabinets yellowing at all costs. 

How do you clean yellowed lacquer?

Yellowed lacquer can be unappealing for many people. Knowing how to clean it off or at least reduce it will save you a lot of money. 

Cleaning it with peroxide:

The very first step that you must do is use a damp cloth and clean the yellowed lacquer. After that rub the surfaces properly with hydrogen peroxide a couple of times to bring it back to its original color. 

Scuff it:

If using such a strong solution still does not work or if you are hesitant about damaging the wood then scuff the surface gently off with sandpaper. 

New coat:

Once you are done scuffing the top layer off apply a new coat of lacquer and ensure to use cab acrylic. This will ensure that there is no further yellowing in the future. Doing this will not only restore the color but also get rid of any stains and scratches. 

Final thoughts: 

Lacquer is a very popular finish and it often turns yellow which many people dislike. However, there are many different types of it present in the market that will not yellow over time. You must also use cab acrylic if you want to eliminate any potential risk of yellowed lacquer.