How to apply lacquer paint

Written by ryan lawrence
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Because lacquer paint goes on so thin, it is ideal for painting surfaces such as wood furniture, which could be left with unattractive brush strokes if painted with latex. This same attribute, however, can make lacquer paint difficult to work with. If you plan to apply lacquer paint to any type of surface, you must follow the important preparation steps or you're likely to end up with messy results and an unattractive finish.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Blue painter's tape
  • Heavy-duty, cloth dust sheet
  • Tack cloth
  • 80- to 120-grit sandpaper
  • Oil-based paintbrush
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Steel wool or pumice stone
  • Rag

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  1. 1

    Cover any areas you do not want painted with blue painter's tape. Cover larger areas like floors or concrete with heavy-duty dust sheets.

  2. 2

    Wipe down the surface with a tack cloth to remove any tiny dust particles that may interfere with adhesion.

  3. 3

    Pour lacquer paint into the 5-gallon bucket.

  4. 4

    Apply the lacquer paint to the surface using an oil-based paintbrush. Brush vertically, moving from left to right. Apply only a light coat. Do not over-apply or you will end up with heavy runs and drips.

  5. 5

    Allow the paint to dry four full hours.

  6. 6

    Sand the surface lightly with 80- to 120-grit sandpaper.

  7. 7

    Wipe down the surface with a tack cloth.

  8. 8

    Apply another thin coat of lacquer paint in the same manner as your first coat. Allow the surface to dry another four hours.

  9. 9

    Clean the oil-based paintbrush using lacquer thinner. Wash the brush at least three times to ensure that all of the paint has been removed.

  10. 10

    Rub down the finish with steel wool or pumice stone to bring out the sheen.

  11. 11

    Dampen a rag with lacquer thinner and wipe down the finish to remove residual oils.

Tips and warnings

  • Because lacquer paint is so thin, it's best to work from a 5-gallon bucket. This helps prevent the paint from splashing over the top and staining carpet, flooring or cement.
  • Never wash an oil-based paintbrush with water or it will get ruined.
  • Avoid using plastic dust sheets as they allow lacquer paint to pool, which can lead to considerable messes.

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