How to Restore Lacquer Finish

Written by jourdan townsend
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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.

Skill level:

Things you 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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  1. 1

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

  2. 2

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

  3. 3

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

  4. 4

    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.

  5. 5

    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.

  6. 6

    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.

Tips and warnings

  • 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.

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