How to Paint Lacquer Furniture

Written by richard kalinowski
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How to Paint Lacquer Furniture
Sandpaper roughs up the gloss on lacquer for easier painting. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Lacquered finishes are beneficial for furniture because they are durable and easily cleaned. However, if you want to paint over an existing lacquer piece, you'll find that the glossy finish makes it difficult to apply fresh colour, and many lacquered wood surfaces cause paint discolouration over time. Fortunately, the right prep tactics can eliminate discolouration and help the paint adhere better.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Towel
  • Painter's masking tape
  • Stain-blocking primer
  • Airless spray gun
  • Roller
  • Paintbrush
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Oil-based paint

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Sand the surface with 220-grit sandpaper. One of the biggest challenges in painting lacquer furniture is the high-gloss finish. Slick surfaces tend to reject new coats of paint, leading to streaky, spotty coverage. Sanding abrades the finish for better paint adhesion.

  2. 2

    Clean the lacquered furniture with soap, water and a sponge. Lacquered surfaces generally don't trap dirt as easily as textured surfaces, but fingerprint smudges or other imperfections could linger on an unwashed surface.

  3. 3

    Dry the lacquered furniture with a towel.

  4. 4

    Apply painter's masking tape and plastic sheeting to any areas of the furniture that you don't want painted.

  5. 5

    Prime the furniture with stain-blocking primer. Lacquer finishes are common on wood surfaces, and wooden surfaces can release natural oils over time, discolouring paint. Stain-blocking primer protects against natural wood oil as well as artificial wood stains. An airless sprayer is good for applying paint and primer to furniture with a lot of curves or small details. For relatively flat furniture, apply primer with a brush or roller instead. Wait for the primer to dry.

  6. 6

    Paint the primed lacquer furniture with an oil-based paint. If you want the new paint to have a slick finish similar to the old lacquer finish, opt for semigloss or gloss paint. For a matt appearance, use oil-based paint with a flat or eggshell finish. As with the primer, use a spray gun for covering complex furniture shapes, and use a roller or paintbrush for flat items.

  7. 7

    Apply a second coat of paint if necessary after the first coat dries.

  8. 8

    Remove the painter's tape after 24 hours.

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