Can you lacquer a piece of Wood? If yes, then how can you do it? Before we dive into how to lacquer wood, we need to understand what is to lacquer and why lacquering would be a better choice over other methods used to preserve a piece of wood.
Lacquer is a shiny modern chemical product commonly applied to furniture and other wood products to bring out their beauty and attractiveness. It contains a vast range of clear coatings that dry faster, producing a durable and fancy piece of art.
You can either use a brush, a sprayer, or a roller to apply lacquer on wood. Spraying is the most preferred when working with lacquer since it is thinner than the paint. This comparison makes it difficult to apply lacquer with a brush since it is hard to keep a wet edge with a brush or a roller. The beauty of knowing how to lacquer wood is that you will be able to achieve excellent results without so much struggle.
How To Prepare A Piece of Wood for Lacquering
You need to prepare your wood surface before applying lacquer to achieve excellent results. The steps below should be followed while preparing the wood surface.
1. Seal the holes and cracks on the board
Before starting lacquer application, you need to seal the wood surface properly. Lacquer-based or water-based fillers are recommended while filling the cracks to help obtain an even surface. You can use a screwdriver to carefully place the wood filler into the cracks and leave it to dry for an extended period.
2. Sand the wood surface
There are two different ways of sanding the surface, and they include.
- Surface Sanding- In surface sanding, you sand the entire surface of the Wood using different types of sandpapers depending on the size of the board.
- Spot Sanding- Sanding particular areas of the board using #120 to #150 sandpaper rate. Minimum force is used while sanding to avoid damaging the wood surface.
3. Clean the Board surface
After sanding the wood surface, brush off all the dust using a dry paintbrush and then wipe it with a clean piece of cloth dipped to remove stains.
What You Will Need to Apply Lacquer finish on Wood
- Lacquer thinner
- Spray gun
- 80 to 400 grit sandpaper.
- 0000-Steel wool
- Protective gear (Respirator and gloves)
- Water-based sealer
- Paste wax
- Protective cloth
How to Lacquer Wood Correctly
Known for its magnificent gloss finish on high-end furniture, Lacquer has become one of the world’s best wood finishes, and this has made it gain popularity and be used globally. Below mentioned are methods used to lacquer wood.
1. Using a Paintbrush
While using a brush to apply,
- Mix lacquer and lacquer thinner to create a sealant coat
- Apply the sealant slowly and evenly using long strokes to avoid uneven distribution of lacquer.
- Leave the finish to dry for a short time, then sand the Wood using sandpaper.
- After sanding, clean the dust using a tack cloth.
- Dip a clean and dry paintbrush into the container carrying lacquer and ensure to absorb enough.
- Apply Lacquer on the wood surface using long stroke movement.
- Leave the coat to dry out for an extended period.
- Sand the Wood using 320 grit sandpaper and apply other coats of lacquer until you get your desired taste.
2. Using an HVLP Sprayer
If you are working on a wide surface area, use an HVLP sprayer to apply the finish. Here are the steps to be followed while applying the lacquer.
- Mix the lacquer and the lacquer thinner into a clean container and get a thick sealant coat
- Dip a clean paintbrush into the sealant coat and apply it to the wood surface carefully.
- Leave it to dry for 30 minutes, then use 0000- grade steel wool to scrub it off.
- Fill the spray gun with 30% thinner and 70% of lacquer, then mix.
- Spray the mixture on the entire wood surface. But be careful not to overspray.
- Let it dry for at least two hours, and then wipe it down using steel wool.
- Take wet sandpaper and rub the wood surface.
- Polish the board using pumice powder.
- Use paint thinner or soap and water to wipe excess powder to get a smooth, shiny finish.
3. Using Roller
Though it is a bit difficult to use compared to other methods, below is how to use it.
- Use a high-quality sponge roller to roll the lacquer on the wood surface swiftly.
- Apply thin coats of the finish to the wood surface to avoid uneven distribution.
- Leave them to dry for an extended period, and remember to sand between the coats the same way you do while using a brush or spray.
Reasons why Craftsmen Prefer Lacquer finish to other wood finishes
- It adds beautiful enamel to wood surfaces through its film topcoats.
- It has a faster drying rate.
- They require very little maintenance.
- Maintains its transparency as it ages.
- They are popular globally.
- They are resistant to water when dry.
- It is durable and user-friendly.
- It protects the wood against humidity and moisture.
Advantages Of Using Lacquer on wood
When it comes to wood finishing, there are various options you can choose from, such as polyurethane, varnish, natural oil stain, and lacquer. However, when deciding which one to use, we always consider several factors: the drying time, durability, affordability, and final appearance. Lacquer, which has become one of the most commonly used products, combines all of the above benefits, but it also has fewer drawbacks.
In drying, lacquer dries faster such that it even begins drying before you finish the entire application. It only requires like 15 minutes to dry at room temperature. This is advantageous over other finishing products because, Within 1 hour, you can apply the first lacquer coating, sand, and spray to two more coats. The others take a few hours to dry completely, with oil-based stain being the slowest as it takes almost 72 hours.
Looking at its durability, lacquer is tough and lasts longer on wood without peeling off or chipping when compared to other methods of wood finishing. It also remains clear for years without fading or yellowing, commonly seen in polyurethane, varnish, or shellac.
It requires less labor and is also quite affordable compared to others finishing products.
Types of Lacquer
There are several types of lacquer finishes, and they include.
1. Water-Based Lacquer
It consists of emulsified droplets of Acrylic and cellulose resin which softens and binds the undercoat while building up the finish. It is gradually becoming one of the most popular types of lacquer as it is less toxic, environmentally friendly, durable, and has a wide range of uses.
2. Acrylic Lacquer
It is an automotive formulation designed to give an attractive, durable finish to the wood surface. It consists of ketones, esters, and aromatic hydrocarbon solvents. Many woodworkers prefer using CAB-Acrylic lacquer as it leaves a clear color after being applied to the board. It is less brittle, more flexible, and resistant to wear and scratches compared to Nitrocellulose lacquers.
3. Catalysed Lacquer
It is a high-performance coating that dries by evaporation. It contains pigments of nitrocellulose and urea resins, making it durable and an excellent representation of straight lacquer.
There are two versions of catalyzed lacquer, Pre-catalysed, which is a little slower in drying, and post-catalyzed version, which dries and cures faster and are the best preference for high production uses.
4. Urushiol Based Lacquer
It is a slow drying lacquer set by oxidation and polymerization rather than evaporation alone. Urushiol Based lacquers are known for producing hard, shiny, water-resistant, and long-lasting wood products.
5. Nitrocellulose Lacquers
It comprises fast-drying solvents mixed with wood and cotton pulp made from nitric and sulfuric acid. It is used in finishing wood products and keeping painted surfaces shiny.
Like varnish and shellac, Nitrocellulose lacquers were first marketed as the first drying wood treatment. Still, today it is combined with other pigments to produce a solvent that blends well with the color and grain of different woods.
Factors To Consider Before working with Lacquer Finishes.
1. Dry Time
Most lacquer dries faster, especially when applied by a spray gun. It has been a preferred finish of professionals over the years as it produces a clear finish that is resistant to water, acid, and other chemicals when dry. However, some lacquers need to be mixed with other thinnings and water to reduce their drying rate.
It is one of the considerations when choosing a finish. Lacquer is preferred while finishing darker woods such as mahogany, cherry, and walnut. It also gives the Wood a richer look and does not change its color even as the wood ages.
It is the ability of a finished film to resist certain types of damages. Many painters and artists prefer using lacquer as it remains clear for years. It is thinner than other paint products, penetrating the wood surface, protecting the wood from the inside.
4. Ease of use
Before applying to lacquer the Wood, you must consider the type of lacquer finishes you are using. Some are a bit thick, while others are thin. Mix the thick finish with water to achieve a thinner finish that will be much more flexible on Wood.
Though most lacquer finishes penetrate the wood surfaces and create a smooth, natural look, others do not until they are mixed with other wood finishes. So whenever you choose to work with lacquer, consider working with Vermont natural coating and apply the coat multiple times for better sheen and surface penetration.
Safety Measures To Be Taken While Lacquering Wood
- Work in an open place or a well-ventilated room to avoid inhalation of chemical fumes that may cause respiratory-related complications.
- Lacquer-based finishes are highly toxic therefore should be kept away from children and handled with care.
- Before lacquering the Wood, ensure the weather conditions are favorable
- Use a proper spray gun to spray the wood surface
- Wear protective clothing and a respirator to avoid spillage and inhalation of fumes
- Avoid direct sunlight as it causes ugly finishes.
- Avoid mixing lacquer and with other products such as oil and silicon as it may lower its effectiveness.
Though considered the best choice to finish working within woodwork, sometimes you might find it difficult to work with lacquers if you do not work with proper guidelines. You should also know that lacquers contain highly toxic chemicals and may explore or cause harm if not properly handled. Therefore when working with lacquer products, read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow proper guidelines, just as shown above.