What is the difference between PU, Melamine, NC, Enamel and Polyester finishes


The choice or painting/ coating or polishing of substrate (Wood or Metal etc) is mainly dependent on 4 factors – durability, finish, time and cost. Whether polishing/ coating or painting your doors, cabinets, frames, furniture, woodwork, grills, structures etc these four factors will play a vital role in decision making. Here are the major differences between the commonly used finishes/coatings/paints available in the market.


NC vs. PU revised 11-9-17.xls

NC vs. PU revised 11-9-17.xls
OTHER COMMON NAMES (In India)Synthetic Enamel, Oil PaintNC paint, Duco paint, NC Lacquer polish, Nitrocellulose paint, Duco Polish, Melamine matt polish, Melamine coating, Matt polishPU paint, PU polish, 2K paint, PU coating, PU Acrylic paint polish, High Gloss PolishPoylester lamination, Polyester polish, Lamination coating
TYPE1 component - Single pack1 component - Single pack2 component - Lacquer + Hardener2 component - Lacquer + Hardener3 component - Lacquer + Hardener + Accelerator
MAJOR BRANDSAsian Paints, Nerolac, Berger, Akzo Nobel (ICI), Shalimar.Akzo Nobel (ICI), Nippon, Nerolac, Waverley Paints- Solo, Esdee Paints, Sheenlac and many other local players. Asian Paints, Jivajor (Charmwood), MRF, Pidilite, Nerolac, Akzo Nobel (ICI) and many other local players.Imported: Sirca, ICA, Milesi, PCG, Kapci, Sherwin Williams,Asian Paints - Renner etc. Indian: Asian Paints, Jivanjor, MRF, Akzo Nobel (ICI), Nerolac, Berger and many other local players.ICA, Sirca, Asian Paints - Renner etc.
FINISH Glossy and MattGlossy, Satin and MattGlossy, Satin and MattVery High Gloss, Satin, Matt, Dead matt, Soft touch (velvet feel)Very High gloss
APPLICATIONSInterior & ExteriorInterior & ExteriorInteriorBest in class - Interior and Exterior. Acrylic based PU recommended for ExteriorsInterior
AREA OF USEWood, Metal & Wood based furniture & substrates.Wood, Metal, Fibreboard & Wood based furniture & substrates.Wood & Wood based furniture & substrates.Wood, Glass, Metals, Plastic, Floorings, Wood based furniture & substrates, Various Industrial applications.Wood & Wood based furniture especially table tops and flat areas.
DRYING TIMESlow - Long dry timeFast - Quick dryingModerateSlow - Long dry timeSlow - Long dry time
SCRATCH RESISTANCELowLowHighHigh to very highVery High - Best in class
COST (Approx incl.labor) ON NEW SURFACEEconomical - Rs. 25 - 30 per sq. ft.Moderate - Rs. 80 - 110 per sq. ft. depending upon the colour & finish requiredModerate - Rs. 80 - 100 per sq. ft. depending upon the colour & finish requiredHigh - Rs. 120 - 220 per sq ft. depending upon th finish requiredVery High - Rs. 300 & above depending upon the thickness required.
HOW TO APPLYBrush, SpraySpraySpraySpraySpray
ADVANTAGESSYNTHETIC ENAMEL OR OIL PAINTS are: Economical, Easy to apply, Easy to repair, Water resistant, Ease of Recoat & touchup, Long pot life. Water based Enamels are also now available in the market which is better for our environment due to its low VOC & Low Odor.NITROCELLULOSE OR NC LACQUER/PAINTS are: Quick drying & hardening time, Short recoating time, Relatively low cost, Easy to apply, Easy to repair, recoat & touchup, Available in variety of colours, Good clarity, Long pot life, Water resistant, Easy to strip, No formaldehyde release, Isocyanate free. MELAMINE POLISH/COATINGS are: High solids - So film build is good, Very good stain, Water & Chemical resistance, Excellent adhesion, High Stain, Scratch/Abrasion resistance, Good resistance against heat/hot water - so hot cup /glass marks dosent affect the coating, Good clarity, Smooth finish.POLYURETHANE (PU) POLISH/ PAINT/ COATINGS are: Best in class paint/Coating - High solids, provides Excellent flexibility, Varity of finishes can be achieved from dead matt to very high gloss smooth finish, High Protection against Ultraviolet (UV) rays & weathering (Non yellowing properties), Very good mechanical properties, High resistance against heat/hot water - so hot cup /glass marks dosent affect the coating, Excellent hardness & abrasion/ scratch resistance, Excellent water & chemical resistance, Very good clarity & depth, Available in variety of colours, Performance in harsh enviroments, Very good Corrosion resistance, Good electrical insulating properties, Versatility. Water based Polyurethane (PU) coatings are also now available in the market which is better for our environment due to its low VOC & Low Odor.POLYESTER PAINT/ POLISH/ COATINGS are: Very High solids - +/-96% - Very high & hard film build, Excellent resistance to Chemicals, Acids, Stains, Abrasion, Water marks, Scratch resistance, Very high gloss & depth, Very strong adhesion, High resistance to removal & shrinkage.
DISADVANATGESSYNTHETIC ENAMEL OR OIL PAINTS have: Slow dry time - Allows greater potential for dust to settle in your finish, Low scratch resistance, Old technology, Flammable Liquid.NITROCELLULOSE OR NC LAQUER/PAINTS are: Less resistant to heat - Prone to hot water marks, Low resistance to solvents, Low scratch resistance, Very high gloss finishes cannot be achieved, Flammable Liquid.MELAMINE POLISH/COATINGS: Cannot be used in exeriors, Emits formaldehyde, Short pot life after adding hardener (8 hours), Difficult to Repair & Strip, Needs sanding between coats for adhesion, Flammable Liquid.POLYURETHANE (PU) POLISH/ PAINT/ COATINGS have: High Cost, Short pot life after adding hardener (upto 4 hours), Lot of qualities are available for various surfaces - so choosing the right product is critical, Needs dust free environment, Skilled applicator is essential for desired results, Contains Isocyanate, Sensitive to environmental changes primarily temperature & humidity, Slow drying, Flammable Liquid.POLYESTER PAINT/ POLISH/ COATINGS have: Very high cost, Very short pot life after adding hardener accelerator (only few minutes), Skilled applicator is a must for desired results, slow drying, Special equipment is required, Labor intensive job, Requires dust proof environment, Cannot be applied in carvings, Flammable Liquid.
RECOMMENDATIONSynthetic Enamels are not suited for heavy applications requiring extreme resistance properties but they are ideal for light duty applications with moderate durability on metals and wood based products & furnitures.DUCO or NC or Nitrocellulose paints are not suited for heavy applications requiring extreme resistance properties but they are ideal for light duty applications with moderate durability on Automobiles, Metals, wood based products & furniture & Industrial Items.Melamine polish/coatings are suitable for heavy duty interior applications on all wood based products & furnitures including table tops due to very good resistance against acids, tea, coffee, alcohol, stain marks etc. Melamine is not recommended for exterior applications.Polyurethane (PU) polish/coating is a heavy duty full package product which offers complete protection for your surface whether Interior or exterior with maximum durability. Due to its versatiliy its popularly used in Automobiles, Metals, Wood based products & furniture, Plastics, glass, floorings. Polyurethane (PU) coatings is a preferred industrial coating worldwide.Polyester coating in terms of finish, Hardness, High gloss (Glass like finish), Scratch resistance, Adhesion is the best coating available in the market. Due to these properties its preffered choice in luxury furniture segment. Is is not recommended for exterior applications.