How to refinish wood in black lacquer

Written by jennifer eblin | 13/05/2017
How to refinish wood in black lacquer
Black lacquer furniture looks shiny and glossy. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Black lacquer has a deep and rich colour that natural wood lacks. The lacquer is a type of liquid coating applied to the surface of the wood that makes it look dark black. The colour is also shiny and glossy, catching the light and making the piece look more high-end. While black lacquer furniture is often expensive, you can achieve the same look yourself using black lacquer. Refinish any type of wood with the process, including furniture and cabinets.

Clean the wood surface with warm, soapy water. Coat a soft cloth with the soapy mixture and wipe all areas of the wood. Dry the surface carefully with a soft cloth.

Rub fine grit sandpaper across the surface of the wood, removing any paint or stain adhering to the surface of the wood. Make sure that the wood has a smooth and even surface, as any imperfections will show through. Wipe away any excess wood dust. If you leave any traces of the stain or original colour behind, the primer should cover it up.

Check the wood carefully, looking for any signs of damage, such as cracking, chips or holes. Apply a small amount of wood putty to those areas. Hold the putty knife at an angle to the wood and wipe it across the surface, pulling off any wood putty stuck to the top of the wood. Let dry. Sand down the wood until the putty sits even with the surrounding wood. Remember that any imperfections will show through both the primer and the paint, and the finish will look rough or bumpy.

Paint the black primer on the surface of the wood, using the paintbrush. Let dry.

Sand lightly and wipe with a damp cloth to remove sanding dust. Let dry.

Apply the spray black lacquer, shaking the can according to manufacturer's directions. Apply one thin coat, let it dry, sand lightly and repeat once more, or as needed until you've achieved the glossy black look you want.

Apply two even coats of a clear, high-gloss spray sealant like polyurethane to protect the wood and create a hard surface finish.


Dark grey primer also works well with the lacquer, but doesn't look as dark or heavy as the black.

Things you need

  • Warm, soapy water
  • Soft cloths
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Wood putty
  • Putty knife
  • Black primer
  • Paintbrush
  • Spray black lacquer paint
  • Clear, high-gloss spray paint

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