How to Restore Lacquer Finish

Updated February 21, 2017

Lacquered furniture can become dirty, dull, discoloured or crazed (i.e., a network of fine cracks appears in the surface) over time. However, do not throw out that old sentimental piece or pass by that appealing piece at a tag sale simply because they are lacquered. Even finished pieces can be cleaned, restained, and refinished.

Apply white spirit to a very fine 0 or 00 grade steel wool.

Gently rub the surface of the lacquered piece with the steel wool to remove wax residue, spoiled lacquer, and dirt.

Use a clean, dry, soft cloth to remove any excess white spirit from the surface of your lacquered piece.

Mix equal parts of lacquer thinner and thinner retardant in a plastic paint tray. Drip a clean, dry cloth into this mixture and apply it to any crazing or wrinkling areas of the lacquer. Once these areas are thinned, quickly remove the solution with a slightly damp, clean cloth.

Fill any areas that are faded with a new coat of wax-based stain. Rub a clean cloth into the stain and rub it carefully onto the bare areas. Pat excess stain from the surface with another clean cloth. Allow the stain to dry completely.

Apply a coat of fine paste finishing wax over the entire piece with a soft cloth, rubbing it in as your did the wax stain.


If your lacquered piece needs to be completely stripped and refinished, it is best to take it to a professional refinisher. You can apply a new coat of lacquer, rather than the finishing wax, but it is not advisable.

Things You'll Need

  • White spirit
  • Fine grade steel wool
  • Soft cloths
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Thinner retardant
  • Plastic paint tray
  • Wax-based stain in a shade that matches the existing stain on your piece
  • Paste finishing wax
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About the Author

Jourdan Townsend has been writing since childhood. Her articles appear in a collection of student works at the University of Oklahoma as well as in the school's "Honors College Journal." Townsend also composes poetry, some of which can be found in an edition of the "Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans." Townsend holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication.