Lacquer woodwork finishes are available in a number of sheens. Lacquer finish helps seal wood for lasting durability. Whether glossy or matt, these finishes provide a thick layer of coverage to protect the wood. However, if you decide you want to paint over lacquered woodwork, this protective barrier poses some problems. Lacquer surfaces don't accept paint as easily as raw wood surfaces. To successfully paint over lacquer finishes, you need to pay close attention to adequate prep work.
Touch the lacquered woodwork to determine its sheen. If the surface is shiny and feels slick to the touch, then you likely have a semigloss or hi-gloss finish. A more natural-looking surface with a rough texture is indicative of an eggshell or flat finish.
Sand the surface with 150-grit sandpaper if you are working with semigloss or glossy lacquered wood. This sandpaper helps abrade the gloss for easier priming. Sand the surface with 300-grit sandpaper if the sheen is eggshell or flat. Finer, 300-grit sandpaper helps buff off some of the finish without the extra abrasion of rougher 150-grit sandpaper, ideal for surfaces that are already textured.
Wipe down the woodwork with a damp rag to remove sandpaper dust. Don't saturate the wood with a sopping wet rag; a little moisture is all you need.
Apply latex or oil-base interior primer to the woodwork, brushing against the wood grain. If you paint with the grain, the primer will not work itself into the wood's pores well enough. With some of the lacquer finish sanded off, your primer now acts as a protective barrier for the wood, so good pore saturation is vital.
Wait for the primer to dry. If you notice bare spots as the primer soaks into the wood, apply a second coat of primer.
Paint the woodwork with an oil or latex paint of any sheen. Now that the wood is sanded and primed, the lacquered surface can accept new paint with ease.
Wait for the paint to dry and add a second coat if there are any bare patches.