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There are plenty of excellent, low-cost alternatives when it comes to paint. Automotive paint was lacquer and enamel in the early days, and some purists, restoration shops, and furniture makers still use those old technologies although the older systems are extremely difficult to find. Urethane, either acrylic urethane or polyurethane, has replaced the older systems, and is much improved in both appearance and durability. Today's standard is a two-stage system, or basecoat/clearcoat, and is exactly what it sounds like. The color is laid down first, followed by a clearcoat, which gives the paint its gloss and strength.