How to black lacquer a table

Updated November 21, 2016

Black lacquer paint gives a table a high-polished, glossy black sheen that makes it look elegant and classy. A black lacquer coffee table, side table or dining table can lend an air of formality and drama to any modern room. Lacquer takes a bit more effort than your average furniture paint job, but if done with care the finished result will impress you and your guests.

Unscrew the table legs, if they are detachable, and work on each part individually. Bring the table outdoors or into a well-ventilated garage or workshop. Protect your work area with dust sheets.

Use the appropriate chemical stripping to remove previous coats of paint or varnish. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for use.

Rub away the remaining traces of paint or varnish with a coarse sandpaper or steel wool. Add a tablespoon of mild dish washing detergent to a gallon of warm water and wash the table thoroughly. Allow it to dry fully.

Sand the table thoroughly with a fine grit sandpaper. Wipe the dust away with a tack rag, then wipe the surface with a damp cloth.

Fill in wood grain, if necessary, using a grain filler as close to the colour of your wood table as possible. Apply the grain filler, following the manufacturer's instructions, and work it into the table thoroughly with a rag. Remove excess paste with a plastic scraper going with the wood grain.

Sand the table lightly, going with the grain. Wipe away dust with a tack rag and then clean with a damp cloth. Apply a lacquer base primer with a paint sprayer or brush and let it dry.

Mix lacquer with a lacquer thinner according to the manufacturer's recommended amount for spray application.

Place lacquer in an airless spray painter. Alternately, purchase black lacquer in spray cans. Shake the can well.

Hold the sprayer or can approximately 8 inches away from the surface and spray on a light, even coating. Spray inner corners first, then apply broad spray strokes across flat surfaces. Allow the coat to dry.

Mix lacquer with a lacquer thinner according to the manufacturer's recommended amount for brush application.

Brush on a thin coat. Apply lacquer going with the grain, using a natural bristle brush. Work fast, as lacquer dries quickly. Avoid leaving brush strokes.

Allow the coat to dry thoroughly.

Sand the surface lightly, with a very fine grain sandpaper. Wipe the surface clean with a tack rag and then with a damp cloth. Allow it to dry.

Repeat the process: apply lacquer, dry, sand, wipe and dry. Follow this process to give the table two to four more coats.

Apply a small amount of liquid wax and polish the finish well. Then buff with a soft cloth.


Tips If you never worked with lacquer, perfect the technique before starting on your table. Get some scrap wood, preferably the same kind as your table, and practice applying lacquer on it until you get the feel for creating an even, perfect coat. If your table is made of plastic, metal or some other non-porous material, it is best to avoid real lacquer and use a lacquer faux finish paint treatment by applying clear acrylic paint and a glossy sealer.


Always follow all manufacturer's safety instructions when handling chemicals. Always work in a well-ventilated area and protect your surface, the surrounding area, clothes and skin.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • dust sheets
  • Paint or varnish stripper
  • Plastic scraper
  • 60 grit heavy grain sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Dish detergent
  • Water
  • Rags
  • Grain filler paste
  • 150 grit fine grain sandpaper
  • Lacquer with sealer mixed in
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Airless paint sprayer or natural soft paint brush
  • 220 grit very fine grain sandpaper
  • Liquid wax
  • Soft cloths
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