How to Apply Lacquer

Lacquer is known for creating beautiful finishes, making it a popular choice among furniture makers and custom finishers. You don't need to spend a lot of money, however, to have that look in your home. You just need to follow these steps for the proper way to apply lacquer.

Apply Lacquer With a Paint Brush

  1. Prepare your piece by sanding and sealing the wood. Use a tack cloth to wipe down the furniture prior to applying the lacquer.

  2. Apply a full, even coat of lacquer to the surface. Avoid using a back and forth motion. Instead, make long, quick, constant movements. Work each new stroke against the wet edge of the previous one.

  3. Permit the lacquer to dry for several hours, then sand the wood to eliminate defects and afford good bonding for subsequent coats.

  4. Clean the wood with the tack cloth, apply another coat and let dry and repeat the steps for each coat.

  5. Use a pumice stone or steel wool to create a sheen and get rid of visible imperfections. Wipe with paint thinner and a soft cloth to eliminate the oil.

  6. Soak brushes in lacquer thinner to clean.

Spray on Lacquer

  1. Choose a well ventilated area and protect the area with drop cloth or newspaper before applying lacquer.

  2. Spray the lacquer on paper or cardboard to get an idea of the can's spray pattern. Several practice runs will provide you with adequate control to correctly cover your wood.

  3. Hold the can in an upright position about 1.5 feet from the wood surface. Spray slowly and evenly.

  4. Begin with the surface's upper edge, then cover the remaining surface in horizontal lines, moving up and down and across. Overlap your spray patterns somewhat to equalize the lacquer's thickness and maintain an even surface.

  5. Allow two days for the wood to dry before smoothing and cleaning the surface. Apply additional coats. Once the final coat has been applied, buff the surface, clean it thoroughly, apply a coat with paste wax and buff.


  • Applying lacquer with a brush is not recommended for beginners.