Enamel vs Lacquer vs Acrylic Model Paints

enamel vs lacquer vs acrylic model paints

Enamel vs Lacquer vs Acrylic Model Paints

What are model paints?

Model paints are made of three different types of paint: enamel, lacquer, and acrylic. Enamel paints are oil-based and usually have a high shine to them. They can be difficult to work with because they take a long time to dry, but they are very durable. Lacquer paints are also oil-based, but they dry much more than enamels. They are not as durable as enamels, but they are more resistant to scratches and chipping. Acrylic paints are water-based and the most popular type of paint for models. They are easy to work with and dry, but they are not as durable as enamels or lacquers.

Types of model paints: Enamel, lacquer, acrylic

There are three types of model paints: enamel, lacquer, and acrylic.
Enamel paints are oil-based and have a high gloss finish. They are the most durable type of paint, but they can also be the most difficult to work with.
Lacquer paints are also oil-based, but they have a lower gloss finish than enamels. They are less durable than enamels, but easier to work with.
Acrylic paints are water-based and have a matte finish. They are the easiest type of paint to work with, but they are also the least durable.
In conclusion, model paints are an important part of the hobby of model building. They come in a variety of colors and finishes and can be used to create a realistic finish on your models. There are many different brands of model paints available, so it is important to do your research to find the right paints for your project.

Paints consist of two basic components: pigments and binders.

Pigments are substances that impart color, solidity, and texture to paint and are classified as natural or synthetic.
Binders, on the other hand, provide adhesion, bind pigments, and give shine, hardness/flexibility/resistance. They contain synthetic or natural resin. (For example alkyd, acrylic, vinyl acrylic, vinyl acetate/ethylene, polyurethane, polyester, epoxy, or oil).

Binders are categorized according to their drying or curing mechanism. The most common categories are simple solvent evaporation, oxidation crosslinking, catalyzed/crosslinked polymerization, and fusion. Drying and curing are two different processes. Drying refers to the evaporation of the solvent or thinner while curing refers to the polymerization of the binder. It happens differently from paint to paint. In some paints, both drying and curing take place, while in some paints, first drying and then curing (healing) takes place, in others, only drying takes place.

Paints that dry by simple solvent evaporation and contain solid binders insolvent (solvent) are known as lacquers. (The word laker comes from the Portuguese name for the resin obtained from some insects.) When the solvent in laker paints evaporates, a solid layer remains. Since this layer can be dissolved again with the solvent, each lacquer can dissolve the one below it.

When paints that are cured by oxidation crosslinking are applied, the oxygen in the air initiates a process, enabling the cross-linking and polymerization of the binding components (Alkyd enamels fall into this category). Since these paints typically use petroleum-based solvents, they are called oil-based (oil-based/oil paint is also used in English for oil-petroleum).

In acrylic binders, the situation is as follows, when the liquid containing the acrylic binders (solvent and carrier) evaporates, the acrylic polymers are cured by fusing. These liquids are advantageous due to their water-based, non-toxic, and relatively less harmful nature. Acrylic binders can be used in all paint types (for this reason, acrylic lacquer and acrylic enamel type paints can be seen).

Mr. Color C523
If we evaluate the “Gunze Mr.Color” paints in line with this information. These paints are chemically solvent-based acrylic paints. That is Acrylic Laker. Mr. Aqeuoous Hobby Color, on the other hand, is a water-based acrylic paint that uses water as a carrier.

Can “Mr.Color Leveling Thinner“, a lacquer paint thinner, be used to thin Mr.Aqeuoous Hobby Color? The binder of both paints is in acrylic polymer, so if used in a reasonable amount, yes it can be used. In fact, its use is recommended in various forums because polymers can dissolve in this thinner, disperse more homogeneously and increase smoothness.

 Mr. Color Thinner

Enamel Paints:

+ Beautiful Metallic Appearance
+ Painting with a brush
o  Harmful to health
   Late drying

Mr Color 110ml Levelling Thinner


Lacquer Paint:

+ Fast drying
+ Beautiful Shiny appearance
+ Airbrush compatibility
+  strength
  Painting with a brush

Mr. Hobby Cobalt Blue Aqueous Color 10ml

Acrylic Paints (For water-based):

+ Beautiful Matte Appearance
+ Can be thinned with water
  Late Drying
  Fingerprints and scratches can easily occur due to the softness of the paint.

Bottom Layer/Top Layer Compatibility

When applying a different paint to the paint layer, the main thing to consider is whether the solvent used in the upper layer will dissolve the binder in the lower layer. The table below shows the behavior in general, with the exception of paint-to-dye.

Top Layer
Enamel Acrylic Lacquer
Enamel OK OK X
Acrylic ? OK X
Lacquer OK OK OK

Paint is all about chemical components. There are specific pigments and binders used by each paint brand. For this reason, when using paints, thinning/mixing should be done according to their contents.

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