Lacquer and Polyurethane

Lacquer and Polyurethane

Is It Possible to Apply Polyurethane Over Lacquer? No, you can’t apply Polyurethane Over Lacquer.

I realize this is a popular question, but I’ll address it regardless. Is it possible to apply polyurethane over lacquer?

The quick answer is no, you won’t be able to.

Polyurethane can react with lacquer, resulting in an unsightly finish. You must sand all existing finishes down to bare wood before applying polyurethane on lacquered wood.

Furthermore, there are a few things to consider before you begin. As an example,

wood that has previously been varnished

How much time do you want to devote to planning?

Precautionary measures

Fortunately, this article will go through all of these factors.

Let’s get this party started!

Lacquer and Polyurethane


Is It Possible to Polyurethane Over Lacquer?

Polyurethane will not adhere to lacquer, thus you can’t apply it over it. Over time, the polyurethane coat will peel and flake. Apply alkyd varnish instead of polyurethane to protect your lacquer finish from water damage and scratches. Polyester resin is used in the formulation of alkyd varnish to improve adherence and durability.

What Exactly Is Lacquer?

Lacquer is a term that refers to a glossy or semi-gloss finish that is applied to nonporous surfaces such as metal or wood kitchen cabinets. These are divided into numerous groups.

Lacquer is manufactured by dissolving nitrocellulose, plasticizers, and pigments in volatile solid solvents in the first group.

Lacquer can also be created with a shellac solution in denatured alcohol to imitate the look of expensive wood finishes such as cherry, mahogany, or walnut.

The finish shields the wood from the elements, such as snow, rain, and heat.

This sort of paint is distinguished by its smooth, lustrous, and long-lasting surface. Furthermore, it guards against scratches and abrasions produced by traffic, machinery, and dirt.

Even better, lacquer finishes offer a high level of UV protection, making them suitable for outdoor structures and furnishings.

How Many Lacquer Coats Should I Use on Wood?

It is suggested that at least three coats of lacquer be applied for the maximum lifespan and protection. Use fine-textured sandpaper to sand in between each layer. When utilizing a spray sprayer, 6-7 applications of lacquer are normally required.

The number of coatings required would be determined by a number of parameters, including:

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What is the thickness of each coat of lacquer?

Whether you’ll use a spray or a brush to apply your laquer finish.

The type of lacquer — there are two types of lacquers available: oil-based and acrylic-based lacquers. When it comes to applying coatings to wood, each variety has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Humidity and temperature are examples of environmental influences.

Always read and follow the instructions on the label to get the correct amount of coats.

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Is it possible to stain over lacquer finishes?

Old lacquered furniture can appear delicate and easily damaged. As a result, you might consider staining the surface for further protection.

If you try to stain lacquered furniture, the stain will form droplets and fall off. You must first remove the lacquer from a lacquered piece of wood furniture before staining it. The wood can then be refinished and sealed.

Apply a lacquer remover directly to the surface and let it sit as directed by the manufacturer to remove the lacquer finish. The lacquer will begin to bubble and eventually peel away. Using a paint scraper or a putty knife, remove the lacquer from the wood surface.

Then sand the surface until it’s completely bare. This can be done with a hand sander or a power sander.

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Lacquer’s Advantages and Disadvantages

Lacquer on wood is a common way to give a finished wood surface a lustrous sheen. Lacquer is commonly used on hardwood floors, musical instruments, and a variety of other woodworking and home tasks.

The shining coating offers the hardwood surface a lustrous appearance without detracting from the inherent aspect of the material. However, there are certain advantages and disadvantages of using lacquer.


  • It provides the material’s surface a polished and gleaming gloss.
  • It dries quickly.
  • Some lacquers do not yellow or get foggy over time.
  • Simple to keep up with.
  • It’s easy to use because you don’t have to thin the lacquer before applying it.
  • Lacquers today are strong and long-lasting.


  • Before it dries and cures, it’s toxic.

Lacquer application necessitates specialized equipment and perfect weather. To avoid Orange Peel, Blushing, and Bubbles, do this.

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multicolored vehicle roof
Lacquer on surface

Is Lacquer Scratch-Proof?

On any furniture surface, lacquer will not be scratched. However, the type of wood used in the project and its condition will determine how scratchy it is. Scratches should not be an issue if the finish has been done appropriately.

A thick clear coat of lacquer applied to a painted surface can easily be scratched, causing extra damage to your furniture.

Applying a thinner coat of paint to the same region will help decrease the amount of scratch to a level that does not make the wood appear old or damaged.

When you see scratches on your painted surface, simply buff them out with a dry towel or cotton cloth to eliminate the scratch and protect the wood from further harm.

You’ll need to buff the scratch to get rid of as much of the paint’s original hue as possible. If any of the colors are left behind, it will be impossible to restore them to a level suitable for use as a finish if you want to apply the superb lacquer finish to hide the scratch.

A light coating of dry lacquer over the scratch may be all you need to obtain the results you want, but in certain circumstances, a full coat of paint may be required to produce the best possible finish.

Is Water Harmful to Lacquer?

Water, which isn’t one of the most protective topcoats, can cause serious harm to lacquer-finished surfaces by turning them hazy and milky.

Water can also form white rings on lacquered furniture when hot or wet glasses and pots are left standing.

The browning of the wood, which can result in yellowing, peeling, or warping, is one thing you may notice right after a flood.

This will vary depending on the extent of the water damage; weeks, months, or even years may pass. As a result, the longer it takes to repair the water damage, the worse the problem will get.

So, how do you choose a non-bleeding paint after a flood or other water damage? Any project that may be subject to water damage should use a high-quality, long-lasting waterproof paint.

Many reliable waterproof paints are manufactured with the most current pigment technology, resulting in the greatest possible finish after being exposed to water. Furthermore, these paints will leave a bright, clean finish that is weather resistant.

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FAQs on Lacquer and Polyurethane

How well can acrylic paint adhere to lacquer?

If the surface is nitrocellulose lacquer and not something else, acrylic paint will adhere to it (like a metal or glass surface). Without sanding, learn how to paint lacquer furniture.

Can you apply poly and lacquer with a brush?

Yes, you can apply your finish with a brush or a sprayer. The majority of individuals choose to use paint sprayers or spray cans. While these products make it quick and easy to coat a variety of surfaces, they don’t always work well with water-resistant clear finishes like Polyurethane and other high-performance sealants.

Does Lacquer Have a Water-Resistant Finish?

The answer varies depending on the coat, how it was applied, and how it was maintained. Oil-based polyurethane coatings, for example, are not water resistant. Solvent-based coatings, on the other hand, such as those made with acrylic lacquer thinner and the like, are only somewhat water resistant. As a result, one coat will not suffice. For the finest effects, you’ll need many coats.

Is it necessary to sand between polyurethane coats?

Yes, sanding between polyurethane applications is required, and for good cause. Sanding will help the finish endure longer if you wish to paint your furniture a certain color or improve the finish’s appearance. Sanding should be done lightly and in the direction of the wood grain.

Can Polyurethane Clear Coat Be Painted Over?

Yes, you can paint over clear polyurethane. Most paints are compatible with polyurethane, and using paint over the polyurethane clear coat has no negative consequences.

Is Alkyd Varnish Polyurethane or Alkyd Varnish Polyurethane?

No, alkyd varnish isn’t polyurethane, although there are alkyd-based polyurethane coatings, such as PU, that cure chemically. They have a high solid content, resulting in a more durable finish.

Polyurethane Over lacquer

While lacquer is a typical and popular wood treatment, polyurethane can be equally effective.

However, immediately applying polyurethane over lacquer is not possible.

Have you tried putting polyurethane on top of lacquer? How did it go for you? Please let us know in the comments section below!

Was this blog post beneficial to you? So, if you have an issue working on your lacquered item, feel free to offer your comments. Also, take a look at this comparison between lacquer and polyurethane.

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Shirley B. Leavitt

Shirley graduated with a Carpentry Technology Certificate Program at Northwestern Michigan College. Her study focuses on art criticism in its various forms, the history of Canadian and American art after 1940, and the psychology of creative thought. Sixty of her pieces have been published in periodicals such as Art International, Arts, Vie des arts, Studio International, The Canadian Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Art. The Caro Connection: Sculpture by Sir Anthony Caro from Toronto Collections, The Heritage of Jack Bush, A Tribute (Robert McLaughlin Gallery), and Caricature and Conscience: The Sculpture of Dora Wechsler (with Carolyn Robinson) are among the exhibitions she has produced. Shirley has served as a guest critic and speaker at various universities in Canada and the United States, including the Emma Lake Artists' Workshop and the University of Toronto. The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations honored her with their award for teaching excellence.

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