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Lacquer is a popular and durable finish known for its glossy sheen and protective properties. It gives wood surfaces a sleek and polished appearance, making it a preferred choice for furniture, cabinets, and various decorative items. However, the issue with lacquer is that as it wears out, it tends to lose its shine and ends up looking dull. It also gets cracked or worn due to getting scratched. So, can you paint over lacquer?

Painting over lacquer is possible, but it requires careful preparation and the right approach for a successful result. Start wiping it with a dry cloth to eliminate any noticeable dust.

Then, in the direction of the grain, sand the surface using 150-grit followed by 300-grit sandpaper. After removing the sanding dust, apply an oil-based or latex primer. This sequence of steps will help ensure a successful paint job over the existing finish.

paint over lacquer furniture

Which Spray Paint Is Best To Use On Lacquer?

When it comes to selecting the right spray paint for lacquer surfaces, your best variations are latex or oil-based paints. These paints are favored for their exceptional adhesion and the glossy finish they deliver, which pairs beautifully with lacquer.

Oil-based enamel also stands out as a top choice due to its resilience, fast drying times, and the protective coating it offers lacquer surfaces.

While chalk paint can also be used, it may require more regular upkeep to maintain its appearance unless you apply a clear topcoat for added protection. It’s better to prioritize good adhesion to prevent issues like runs, drips or premature cracking, providing a smooth and enduring finish for your lacquer painting project.

Note: Spraying the lacquer with a high-quality lacquer sprayer is recommended.

How to Paint Over Lacquer Furniture And High-gloss Finish?

The good news is that you can easily paint over lacquered furniture by using the following steps:

Lacquer Selection and Surface Preparation


Begin by selecting the appropriate type of lacquer for your paint job, considering factors such as the surface material and your desired texture. Varieties include nitrocellulose, acrylic and water-based lacquers.

Examine the existing lacquer finish on your surface. Run your hand over it to determine if it feels rough or glossy. This assessment will impact your surface preparation.

Preparing the Work Surface

Collect all the necessary tools and materials, including 150-grit and 300-grit sandpaper, a wet rag, paint (spray or brush), primer, safety gear, and 300-grit sandpaper.

Before you start any painting work, make sure the surface is free of grime, debris, and dust. A clean canvas is essential for a uniform coating.

Sanding for Surface Readiness

Sanding for Semi-Gloss

If your assessment reveals a semi-gloss sheen, use 150-grit sandpaper to gently sand the surface. This will prepare it for painting.

Sanding for Flat Sheen

For surfaces with a flat sheen, opt for 300-grit sandpaper. It provides a finer finish and enhances the gloss without altering the surface.

After sanding, use a damp rag to clean off the sanding dust. Ensure the surface is fully dry before moving forward.

What Primer To Use Over Lacquer?

Primer To Use Over Lacquer

Select an appropriate primer like water-based, latex, or oil-based that matches the type of lacquer you’re using. Here are the two picks for primer:

KILZ 2 All-Purpose Primer: KILZ 2 comes with a fast-drying time of 30 minutes, versatile option for interior and exterior surfaces that helps block stains effectively and offers strong adhesion, making it a top pick for a professional topcoat.

Zinsser 272479 Spray Primer: Another best primer is Zinsser 272479 that excels in adhering to a range of surfaces without the need for sanding. With a swift 30-minute drying time, it offers excellent stain-blocking properties and delivers a flawless white gloss in a single coat, making it a must-have for professional results.

Apply a thin layer of primer using a brush, working against the wood grain for deep penetration. Priming is a crucial step for a successful outcome.

For better adhesion and coverage, apply at least two coats of primer. Give adequate time for each layer to completely dry before proceeding.

Spray Painting- what paint to use over lacquer?

paint to use over lacquer

With the primer dried, it’s time for the enjoyable part; spray painting. Ensure your painting direction matches that of the primer for a consistent pattern.

Choose between latex or oil paint, as per your preference. You can select your desired sheen to get the desired aesthetic. I would recommend two paints that I found quite effective to use over lacquer:

Rust-Oleum 2X Ultra Cover Paint

Known for its excellent ruggedness and coverage, Rust-Oleum 2x ultra cover paint comes in a wide range of colors and finishes that adheres well to primed surfaces and provides an even and neat layer.

Krylon Fusion Spray Paint

Krylon Fusion is designed for use on a variety of surfaces, including lacquer-coated ones offering superior adhesion. It dries quickly to a fresh, glossy paint application and is available in a variety of colors, ideal for both indoor and outdoor uses.

Any imperfections or bare patches should be addressed with additional paint layers. Wait for one coat to dry before you apply the next one. Also available in Walmart.

Wondering if it’s possible to paint over powder coating? Check the article for insights.

Perfecting Between Coats

Between paint coats, sand the surface once more. This step is good for a flawless satin. Be certain to allow complete drying before engaging in any sanding activities.

Consider applying a clear coat as the finishing touch. While optional, it’s highly recommended for sealing the paint and leaving the surface with a radiant, glossy appearance.

How to Paint over Lacquer Without Sanding?

Painting over lacquer without sanding can be a more convenient and less messy process than traditional sanding methods. Although lacquer’s sheen surface can make paint adhesion challenging, there are several methods to attain a successful paint job without the sandpaper hassle.

chalk paint over lacquer

One popular approach is using chalk paint. This mixture of pigments, chalk, and emulsifiers lets you skip the sanding step. However, for better durability, it’s advisable to apply a primer before using chalk paint.

Liquid Sander/Deglosser

Liquid sandpaper or deglosser is a chemical solution that effectively removes lacquer finishes without the labor-intensive sanding process. It’s a quick and efficient alternative.

Lacquer Primer

High-quality bonding primers like Zinsser, Kilz, or B.I.N are designed to adhere well to lacquer surfaces without sanding. They offer strong adhesion and eliminate the need for extensive surface preparation.

Mineral Paint

Mineral paint is an environmentally-friendly choice that doesn’t require sanding. It adheres well to lacquer and can be used on various surfaces, making it a hassle-free pick.

Milk Paint with Bonding Agent

Milk paint, combined with a bonding agent, provides an all-natural, non-toxic option for painting over lacquer. The bonding agent offers excellent adhesion without the need for sanding or priming.

Another Project– Painting over high gloss lacquer

Before Painting over high gloss lacquer

My husband and I decided to update our black lacquer dining room chairs. There were eight of them. We wanted a soft, buttery color called cathedral taupe. But it was hard to cover the shiny black paint with the updated color. So we tried something new. We first painted them with white primer, which helped a lot. Then, we used a technique called wet sanding to make the finish smooth and soft.

After painting over high gloss lacquer

We’re really happy with how our chairs turned out. They look great in our dining room now. We’re excited to keep learning about painting and try more advanced methods and products in the future. We love getting inspiration from this website and appreciate how helpful experienced members are in assisting newcomers like us.

What Kind Of Brush Is Best For Lacquer?

For rapid-drying paint like lacquer or shellac, it’s best to use high-quality brushes made from natural, fine animal hair. These brushes allow for sleek, long strokes without leaving visible brush marks.

When the brush is well-crafted and the hair is densely packed, it provides precise control over the finish application, resulting in an even and consistent coat.

What Is Lacquer?

Lacquer is a versatile finish used to improve the durability and beauty of wood or metal surfaces, applied as a final layer after paint.

Various lacquer types cater to specific materials. Water-based lacquer is ideal for furniture, cabinets, and staircases while acrylic lacquer suits lighter woods and automotive use.

Nitrocellulose and urushiol-based lacquers enhance wood’s natural beauty and metal lacquer excels on metal surfaces. These options protect and refine materials, making lacquer best in wood finishing.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Lacquer Paint

Advantages of Lacquer PaintDisadvantages of Lacquer Paint
Dries in 15 minutes at room tempCircular imperfections (blushes) in humidity.
Suitable for beginnersBubbles or Orange Peels
Greater Durability and offers chip-resistant protection.Requires humidity control and additives
No Sanding Required
Can affect finish quality

Wrapping Up

So, the answer to “Can you paint over lacquer” is yes, but it needs careful surface preparation and the right approach.

Following the proper guide, including surface preparation, choosing the right paint and primer, and using the appropriate brushes or spray paint, you can have a beautiful and durable sealing on lacquered surfaces.

FAQS On Can you paint over lacquer furniture

Can you paint directly over lacquer?

Yes, it is possible to paint over lacquer, but you must prepare the surface first. The use of a compatible primer and sanding are essential for successful adhesion.

Can I apply varnish over lacquer?

The use of varnish directly over lacquer is generally not recommended. It is essential to prepare the surface properly and check compatibility with the specific products.

What kind of finish can be put over lacquer?

You can paint, stain, or clear topcoat lacquer to add a variety of finishes. Make sure the desired finish is compatible with the surface and that the surface is properly prepared.

Can you put acrylic paint over lacquer?

When applied over lacquer, acrylic paint can be used with proper surface preparation. It is important to sand the lacquer surface and apply a suitable primer before applying acrylic paint, so that the paint adheres better.

Rosalie Sanchez-Holapaints writer and owner

Rosalie Sanchez

DIY enthusiast with years of experience in home decor and home improvement. With a passion for educating consumers about DIY projects. Every time, I work with our painting professionals to provide you with the best painting product reviews and how-to advice. You can follow me on Facebook.

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