What Are the Best Tips to Lacquer Furniture?

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  • Written By: Patrick Lynch
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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Lacquer is a finish that dries almost instantly and is popular because of its durability and the shine that results. To lacquer a piece of furniture, clean it thoroughly before spraying its top edge and work horizontally. Allow it to dry before using steel wool and a tack cloth to clean the surface. Apply further coats until satisfied with the results. Certain wood cannot be lacquered. For would that can, a spray gun is more effective than a brush due to the speed at which lacquer dries.

Lacquer is a popular finish for wooden furniture because it is the fastest drying finish available. Lacquered furniture is more durable than its shellac equivalent but it is extremely thin. This means several coats must be applied.

To lacquer furniture, the wood must be sealed and sanded properly. Use a tack cloth to completely clean the furniture before applying the lacquer. Place newspapers around the working area and only use spray to lacquer furniture. There must also be plenty of ventilation in the room.

Test the lacquer spray with a piece of cardboard before application. Hold the spray can approximately 18 inches (45 cm) above the piece of furniture. Begin by spraying the top edge of the furniture and work from side to side. Each sprayed area will have a thin layer on the edges with the center coated thickly. To lacquer furniture correctly, overlap the patterns for a more even spread.


Although lacquer dries in minutes, it needs to be left to dry for two days to ensure that it cures completely before reapplication. Use steel wool to make the surface of the lacquer furniture smooth before using a tack cloth to clean. Apply a second coat, follow the same procedure for drying as before, and use a third coat for an ultra-smooth finish.

To correctly lacquer furniture, ensure that it is not applied to materials made from rosewood and mahogany. This is because the oils in these types of wood will ruin the finish by bleeding through it. Lacquer can be used on top of different finishes because the solvents it contains will quickly dissolve the other finishes.

Lacquer is not easy to work with because it dries so quickly. This is why spraying lacquer is a better idea than using a brush. A motorized spray gun will lacquer furniture in a short period of time. Lacquer is also toxic so great care must be taken during its use.


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