The fine, shiny finish called lacquer can lend a stylish and attractive element to any piece of furniture. Everything from pianos to coffee tables show off this shiny exterior. Over time, lacquer can fade in some areas, develop scratches in others or simply need a good cleaning. This must be done carefully to ensure the lacquer finish retains its shiny beauty.
Dust your lacquer finish weekly. Dampen a soft rag or cloth with clean, warm water and wipe down the lacquer surface. Quickly follow this with a dry, white cloth to remove excess water. Dusting will remove surface contaminants and may help restore some of the shine.
Cover small, light scratches with felt-tip scratch removers. These markers come in a variety of colours to match your wood. Simply colour over small scratches and allow the colour to dry. This will make the colour of the lacquer finish even again.
For larger scratches, combine blending powder and padding lacquer to create a cover. Like the markers, the powders come in a variety of colours, and the amount of powder and lacquer needed will vary by the size your repair area and the specific product. Mix the powder and lacquer per product instructions to achieve your colour and apply it with a fine artist's paintbrush. Allow the lacquer to dry overnight.
Inspect your repair work in the morning. If the repaired area appears lighter than the rest of the furniture, apply a second coat of powder and lacquer and allow it to dry overnight.
Mix twice the amount of powder into the lacquer as you used for the initial repair. With a very fine pointed paintbrush, connect the grain lines from the surrounding wood through the repair area with the darker colour. This will help the repaired are blend in with the rest of the wood. Allow the lacquer to dry overnight.
Inspect your work in the morning. If the area appears more glossy than the rest of the piece, sand it lightly with #0000 steel wool.
Find materials for this project at furniture supply shops, arts and crafts retailers and corner shops. If you dribble lacquer or make a mistake while painting, remove fresh lacquer finish with white spirit. Test any cleaning products aside from water on an inconspicuous area of your lacquer before applying to the whole surface. Solvent cleaners can dissolve or discolour the lacquer. When checking for scratches in your finish, use strong light at a 45 degree angle above the furniture finish. Direct overhead light will mask parts of the scratch and not enable you to see the extent of the damage.
Never use paper towels or furniture polishing cloths on lacquer finish, as they can scratch or dissolve the lacquer. Never saturate the lacquer finish with water while cleaning. Excess water can potentially seep into the wood.