Lacquer is a very versatile finish, especially because of its widely understood easy application in varying weather conditions. Not so widely understood is the range of colors—the amount of yellowing (or “oranging”) of the various types of lacquer.
For example, nitrocellulose lacquer (on the left in the accompanying photo) adds a noticeable darkening or slight orange coloring to the wood. This can be very pleasing on dark and dark stained woods, but some find it objectionable on light woods such as maple and birch and on white pickled woods.
In between is acrylic or “water-white” lacquer, which isn’t totally water white. This lacquer is made with nitrocellulose and acrylic resin rather than nitrocellulose and alkyd or maleic resins.
Alkyd and maleic resins add color, which acrylic doesn’t.At the opposite extreme, CAB-acrylic lacquer (on the right), which applies just like nitrocellulose, adds no coloring to the wood. It is water clear. You have a choice of color when using lacquer.