How to Properly Apply Lacquer Paint

A paint brush coated in red lacquer paint.
  • 5-10 hours
  • Beginner
  • 100-300
What You'll Need
Drop cloth
Lacquer primer
Spray can or spray gun
Lacquer paint
Clear coat
Clean cloth

Lacquer paint is a material containing a resin that provides a durable finish to hard-wearing surfaces such as furniture. It has a different composition from regular latex or oil-based paint, so the application is different as well. However, achieving the hard finish and shine you’re looking for isn’t difficult if you know what to do.

Step 1 - Choose Your Paint

There are a few different kinds of lacquer paint so make sure you choose one that fits with the surface you are painting. Also, consider if lacquer is the right kind of paint for your project. For example, enamel paint may be better for painting metal.

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Step 2 - Prepare the Area

Position a drop cloth underneath whatever you are painting. Also, since lacquer paint is fairly toxic, make sure you are painting where there is fresh airflow. You still may want to wear a respirator that covers your face to further protect you from the fumes, as well as gloves and goggles, especially if you have opted for using spray paint. This may be a better option if you are painting a car, motorcycle or anything large.

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Make sure to clean off any dirt and debris on the piece you're painting before you start, and get all of the dust off any project that has been sanded first.

Lacquer paint is very flammable as well. Do not use it near an open flame, and extinguish all gas pilots and space heaters nearby.

Step 3 - Apply Primer

Priming increases the chances of your paint job looking its best. Make sure you choose a lacquer primer and that it is the same type as your paint; this way you will not accidentally mix products. This is important because if you apply a different kind of clear coat on top of your paint, your color could be ruined.

If you are priming metal, spray the primer on in slow, controlled strokes in one direction. If you are working on wood make sure the surface is clean and smooth, using sandpaper to achieve this if necessary. Then, apply an even layer of primer.

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In the event you're using a brush, make sure your strokes go in one direction and leave enough time for the primer to dry before moving on. When spraying, push the button slightly to the left of the object; then spray left to right, stopping slightly beyond the right edge of the object. Depress the button again and spray from right to left. Continue with this on/off, left/right spray motion until the object is completely covered.

Step 4 - Apply the Lacquer Paint

Just as you did with the primer, apply the lacquer paint in long, even strokes. Paint your object in the same direction and make your strokes overlap a bit; this eliminates streaks in your paint job.

Make sure you read the directions carefully and adhere to the drying time prescribed. The paint must be completely dry before you do anything else. The weather will have a lot to do with how long it takes. For example, on a more humid day, you'll have to wait a little longer than normal.

Step 5 - Smooth the Surface

Sand the surface again to ensure it is as smooth as possible. You may choose to add another layer of lacquer paint at this time before you move onto the clear coat. It is recommended that you use several coats of lacquer finish, sanding between each when painting cars or motorcycles. This will also be helpful when painting metal garden furniture.

Step 6 - Add Clear Coat

This is the finishing coat that will seal your paint job and give it extra shine. Apply it just as you have the lacquer paint and primer. Wait until it's completely dry before finishing up with a clean cloth.

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