Can I Put Lacquer Over Paint?

Whether you’re trying to protect a paint job or give it a high-gloss finish, lacquer can be a great option. Lacquer is a clear or colored finish that dries hard and can provide a durable, glossy finish. Paint, on the other hand, is a pigmented color that dries into a solid film.

It is possible to put lacquer over paint, but you can’t use it on every type of paint. So it is important to choose the right type of lacquer and prepare the surface properly before beginning the project.

Lacquer is a clear or colored coating that is applied to protect and give a high gloss to painted surfaces. It is typically used on wood surfaces, but can also be used on metal, glass, and plastic.

Can I Put Lacquer Over Paint

Should you use Lacquer Over Paint?

Paint is one of the most popular finishes for furniture and cabinets, but some furniture makers and DIYers prefer to use lacquer. Lacquer is a clear or colored varnish that dries hard and has a high gloss finish. It is more durable than paint and can resist scratches and stains. Lacquer is also easier to clean than paint.

While it’s not necessary to use lacquer over paint, there are some benefits to doing so. If you’re considering lacquering over paint, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Choose The Right Type Of Lacquer

It’s important to choose the right type of lacquer for the job. There are two main types of lacquer – Polyurethane, and Nitrocellulose. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Polyurethane is more durable and resistant to scratches, while nitrocellulose gives a softer, more natural look.

Prepare The Paint Before Using Lacquer

You need to make sure the paint is properly prepared before applying lacquer. Make sure the paint is fully cured before applying lacquer. If it’s not, the lacquer may not adhere properly.

The surface should be clean, dry, and free of any dirt or debris. If the paint is old or chipped, it’s best to sand it down first so that the lacquer will have a smooth surface to adhere to.

Apply Evenly

When applying lacquer, be sure to use even strokes and don’t overload the brush. Too much lacquer can cause runs or drips, so it’s important to apply it thinly and evenly.

How Do You Apply Lacquer to Painted Wood?

Lacquer is a clear or colored wood finish that dries by evaporation of volatile solvents. It produces a hard, durable finish and can be high gloss, semi-gloss, or matte. Lacquer finishes are used on a variety of surfaces such as wood, metal, or glass.

Applying lacquer to painted wood is not difficult, but there are some important steps to follow for the best results.

Step 1: Clean And Sand The Surface

Before starting, make sure the surface is clean and free of any grease or wax. If necessary, sand the surface lightly with fine-grit sandpaper to create a smooth base for the lacquer.

Step 2: Apply Lacquer

Once the surface is prepared, apply a thin coat of lacquer with a brush or sprayer designed for use with this type of product.

Step 3: Use Multiple Coat

Allow the first coat to dry completely before applying additional coats. For the best durability and appearance, it’s important to build up the lacquer slowly in thin layers rather than trying to achieve full coverage in one thick coat.

Step 4: Work In Spacious Area

When applying lacquer with a brush, start in an inconspicuous area to get a feel for how much lacquer you’ll need to use and how quickly it dries.

Step 5: Try Even Stroke For Smooth Finish

Use long strokes in the direction of the grain and try not to go back over areas that have already started drying. This can cause streaks or brush marks in the finish. If using a sprayer, hold it about 6-12 inches from the surface and move smoothly back and forth across the area being coated.

What is the recommended time frame for lacquering after painting?

The recommended time frame for lacquering after painting depends on the type of paint and lacquer being used, as well as the environmental conditions. For oil-based paint, it is recommended to wait at least 24 hours before applying lacquer.

For water-based paint, the wait time is shorter, and lacquer can be applied after the paint has dried completely (usually 2-3 hours). This allows the paint to fully cure and harden, which will in turn make the lacquer adhere better and create a stronger bond.

However, in humid conditions, it is recommended to wait 48 hours before applying lacquer.

Can You Put Lacquer Over Spray Paint?

Yes, you can put lacquer over spray paint. However, it is important to note that lacquer is a very thin clear coat, so it will not provide the same level of protection as thicker paint. Additionally, because it is thinner, it can be difficult to get an even coat of lacquer over spray paint. If you are looking for a high-gloss finish, then lacquer may be the best option.

spray lacquer over latex Paint

Can You Put Lacquer Over Water-Based Paint?

You can apply lacquer over water-based paint, but you’ll need to take some precautions first.

Water-based paint can take up to 30 days to fully cure, so it’s important to allow ample time for the paint to dry before applying lacquer. If you’re in a hurry, you can speed up the drying process by using a hair dryer or heat gun set on low heat. Just be careful not to overheat the surface, which could damage the paint.

Once the paint is dry, lightly sand the surface with 400-grit sandpaper to create a smooth base for the lacquer. Then, clean away any dust with a tack cloth before applying your chosen lacquer product according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Can You Put Lacquer Over Acrylic Paint?

Lacquer can be applied over a variety of surfaces, including acrylic paint. Applying lacquer over acrylic paint can protect the paint from wear and tear and provide a glossy finish.

Lacquer is also more resistant to chipping and fading than acrylic paint. However, it is important to note that lacquer will not adhere to an unclean or poorly prepared surface. The surface must be completely dry and free of any grease, oil, wax, or other contaminants before the lacquer can be applied.

If you are planning on applying lacquer over acrylic paint, it is best to consult with a professional painter or lacquer manufacturer to ensure proper application and compatibility.

Can You Put Lacquer Over Oil-Based Paint?

If you’re considering repainting a piece of furniture, you may be wondering if you can put lacquer over oil-based paint. The short answer is yes, you can! However, there are a few things to keep in mind before proceeding.

First, it’s important to make sure that the surface is clean and free of any dirt or grease. This will help the lacquer adhere properly. If the surface isn’t clean, the lacquer may not adhere well and could start to chip or peel over time.

Once the surface is clean, you’ll need to sand it down slightly so that the lacquer will have something to grip onto. Be sure to use fine-grit sandpaper so as not to damage the existing paint job. You can use liquid sandpaper for this job.

Once the surface is prepped, you can go ahead and apply the lacquer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Usually, this involves applying a thin layer with a brush or roller and then letting it dry completely before adding additional coats. Keep in mind that lacquer dries quickly, so work in small sections and don’t try to Rush things. Otherwise, you risk making a mess or creating streaks in the finish.

Can I Use Milk Paint as a Base Before Applying Lacquer?

Yes, you can use milk paint as a base before applying lacquer. However, it’s important to follow milk paint application tips to ensure a smooth and even finish. Make sure to properly clean and prepare the surface, apply thin coats, and sand between layers for the best results.


A coat of polyurethane can seal the surface without removing the coat of paint. Lacquer is an easy-to-apply finish that dries quickly for glossy-looking furniture. Many interior designers select paint colors and then give lacquer over the paint to improve the look.

Most modern lacquers have a lacquer thinner or lacquer thinner equivalent that can be used to remove marks, scuffs, or scratches left in the finish. In certain cases, a scuff or scratch in the lacquer finish can actually be repaired by applying lacquer thinner over the affected area.

Cheap lacquers can yellow and ruin the paint job beneath them, be careful and do research before applying any lacquer.

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