How to Polish Black Lacquer Furniture

Written by perri sams
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How to Polish Black Lacquer Furniture
Shiny black lacquer requires special care. (Piano Keys image by Everyday Abstracts from

Black lacquer furniture originated in Asia. The base of the furniture was often made with wood, bamboo or even paper. Liquid lacquer was applied in layers. Each layer was allowed to dry and then was polished. Although durable, black lacquer furniture can be easily scratched. Antiques of this style often have very fragile surfaces and require gentle care. Modern black lacquer furniture has a hard, shiny finish and is sturdier. Even the sturdier, newer pieces streak and scratch easily, so care must be used with modern pieces as well.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • 3 to 5 soft cleaning cloths

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  1. 1

    Dust, using a slightly damp, soft cloth. Using straight strokes and very little pressure go over a section around eight to 10 inches in size.

    How to Polish Black Lacquer Furniture
    Use plain water to clean black lacquer furniture. (water drops enters into water image by Denis Tabler from
  2. 2

    Quickly blot with a dry, soft cloth, thoroughly drying the area. Continue dusting and drying until the entire piece of furniture is clean.

    How to Polish Black Lacquer Furniture
    Soft cloth, like microfiber, does not scratch delicate surfaces. (purple fabric image by Lytse from
  3. 3

    Polish a small area gently with a dry, clean, soft cloth, using straight strokes back and forth. Step back and look at the finish. If it is shiny and there are no scratches, continue until the entire piece of furniture has been polished.

    How to Polish Black Lacquer Furniture
    Polished black laquer can have a mirror-like quality. (reflection of red cup image by Petr Gnuskin from

Tips and warnings

  • If you have any concerns about the fragility of the surface, start the polishing process in a hidden area.
  • Lacquer polish is for musical instruments, not Asian furniture.
  • Regular furniture polishes and cleaners may weaken the finish of black lacquer.
  • Paper towels can scratch lacquer surfaces.

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