Adding a bright lacquer finish to surfaces in your home is a great way to instantly give them a fresh, updated look. Lacquer has a gorgeous high-gloss sheen that makes colors pop while also providing durability. Read on to learn all about the benefits of lacquer finishes and how you can use them in your home decor.

What is Lacquer?

Lacquer is a clear or colored coating that dries to a hard, durable glossy finish. It is made from resin, solvent, and pigment that combine to create a tough, protective layer.

There are several types of lacquer:

  • Nitrocellulose lacquer – Made from nitrocellulose resin and solvents. Dries quickly and is easy to apply.
  • Acrylic lacquer – Uses acrylic resins. More durable and flexible than nitrocellulose.
  • Water-based lacquer – Uses water as the solvent. Low odor and low VOC.

Lacquer can be tinted with pigments to create bright, bold colors. It dries to a smooth, glass-like surface that resists scratches, stains, and water damage. The hard finish also makes it very durable.

Benefits of Using Lacquer

There are many reasons to choose a lacquer finish for your home decor projects:

  • Vibrant colors – Lacquer comes in a huge range of colors from pastels to neon brights. The glossy finish really makes the colors pop.
  • Durable and protective – The lacquer coating is much harder than paint or stain and acts as a protective barrier against scratches, spills, and normal wear and tear.
  • Resistant to water – Lacquer creates a moisture barrier, preventing water damage on surfaces like wood or metal.
  • Easy to clean – The slick, non-porous finish can simply be wiped clean with a damp cloth.
  • Quick drying – Lacquer dries faster than many other finishes, allowing projects to be completed quicker.
  • Long-lasting shine – Maintains its high-gloss look over time without dulling.
  • Can be recoated – Unlike paint, lacquer can be recoated without having to strip or sand the previous layer.

Types of Lacquer Finishes

There are several varieties of lacquer finishes that each create a slightly different look:

Gloss Lacquer

  • Gloss lacquer dries to a shiny, mirror-like finish.
  • Provides the most light reflection for maximum vibrancy.
  • Works well on furniture, cabinets, and high-use surfaces.

Satin Lacquer

  • Has a smooth, silky finish with less shine than gloss.
  • Still durable but shows fewer imperfections than high-gloss.
  • Often used on furniture for a soft, subtle sheen.

Matte Lacquer

  • Has a flat, non-reflective finish.
  • Provides a vintage, worn-in type of look.
  • Best for low-touch surfaces as it scuffs more easily.

Clear Lacquer

  • Transparent coating that provides protection without changing color.
  • Ideal for natural wood surfaces to preserve the color and grain.
  • Available in gloss, satin, and matte sheens.

Lacquer vs. Paint vs. Stain

How does lacquer compare to other common finishes like paint and stain? Here are some key differences:


  • Glass-like glossy finish
  • Very durable and protective
  • Resists scratches and water
  • Dries quickly
  • Can be recoated without stripping


  • Matte to glossy finish
  • Medium durability
  • Must be primed first
  • Slower drying time
  • Must be sanded between coats


  • Penetrates wood surface
  • Shows natural wood grain
  • Less durable than paint or lacquer
  • No glossy finish
  • Require sealing for protection

So while paint and stain have their uses, lacquer stands out for its extremely hard, glossy finish that comes in vibrant colors.

Prep Work for Lacquering

Proper preparation is key to achieving an flawless lacquered finish. Here are some tips:

  • Clean the surface – Remove any dirt, grease, wax or old finishes. lacquer won’t adhere well to uneven or dirty surfaces.
  • Sand the surface – Lightly sand to create some texture for the lacquer to bond to. Be careful not to gouge the surface.
  • Wipe away dust – Use a tack cloth to remove any dust left from sanding. Specks of dust can get stuck in the lacquer.
  • Apply primer – On raw wood, an oil-based primer helps seal the surface and prevents blotchy absorption of lacquer.
  • Fill imperfections – Use wood filler on small holes and cracks, then sand smooth once dry.
  • Apply masking tape – Tape off any areas you don’t want to get lacquer on, like hinges or hardware.

Proper prep leads to a smooth, professional-looking lacquered finish.

How to Apply Lacquer

Lacquer can be applied with a brush, rag, or sprayer. Here is an overview of application techniques:


  • Use a high-quality natural bristle brush made for lacquer.
  • Flow lacquer on in thin coats in the direction of the wood grain.
  • Allow each coat to dry before brushing on the next.
  • Sand lightly with 220 grit sandpaper between coats.


  • Soak a clean, lint-free cotton rag in the lacquer.
  • Wring it out so it’s damp but not dripping.
  • Wipe the lacquer onto the surface using smooth, straight strokes.
  • Let dry completely before wiping on additional coats.


  • Pour lacquer into a spray gun or HVLP spray system.
  • Mist on light, even coats holding the sprayer 6-8 inches away.
  • Slowly build up layers allowing each coat to fully dry.
  • Spraying creates the smoothest, most professional finish.

No matter the method, apply thin coats and allow proper drying time between layers. This prevents drips, runs, and uneven coverage.

Lacquer Finish Ideas for Your Home

A lacquer coating can be applied to many types of surfaces throughout the home:


Bright lacquer is a gorgeous way to update tired wood furniture. Use glossy colors for a funky, modern look or classic wood tones for a natural vibe. Distressed lacquer creates an antiqued, vintage feel.


Kitchen and bathroom cabinets get a sleek, fresh update with lacquer. The durable finish resists moisture, spills, and grime. Use lacquer to refinish cabinets rather than a full replace.


Dining and coffee tables take serious abuse. A scratch-resistant lacquer finish protects tabletops from daily wear and hot items. Gloss lacquer looks stunning on marble, wood, laminate, or concrete tables.

Wood Flooring

Worn, faded hardwood floors get revived with a coat of tinted lacquer. For a natural look, use clear gloss lacquer over stained planks. Lacquer is more durable than polyurethane.

Outdoor Furniture

Lacquer holds up well to sun, rain, and weather. Use it to refinish wicker, teak, or wooden patio furniture in fun colors. Matte or satin lacquer minimizes glare.


Interior and exterior doors see a lot of handling. Protect them with a durable lacquer finish. Use high-gloss for a stylish accent door or satin for a subtle sheen.

Wall Art

Create trendy statement art by lacquering bold geometric designs or prints directly onto walls. Use painter’s tape to create patterns and lines.

Caring for Lacquered Surfaces

Lacquer is durable but proper care keeps it looking its best:

  • Dust frequently with a microfiber duster.
  • Clean with a mild soap and water. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
  • Wipe spills immediately to prevent stains.
  • Place felt pads under furniture legs to prevent scratches.
  • Avoid placing hot items directly on the surface. Use trivets and pot holders.
  • For a quick touch up, apply another thin coat of lacquer.
  • To fully refresh the finish, lightly sand and reapply 3-4 coats.

With proper prep and care, a lacquered surface will stay vibrant and protected for many years.

FAQs About Lacquer Finishes

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about lacquering:

Is lacquer difficult to apply?

Lacquer is easier to apply than many other finishes like polyurethane or varnish. The fast drying time allows multiple coats to be applied in one day. Proper prep is the most important step for a smooth finish.

How long does it take lacquer to dry?

In ideal conditions, lacquer dries to the touch in about 30 minutes. It takes 2-3 hours to dry hard enough to apply another coat. Full curing takes 24-48 hours. Cooler temps or high humidity slow drying time.

Does lacquer yellow over time?

All clear wood finishes will develop an amber tint over many years as the resins oxidize. But quality lacquers are formulated to resist yellowing and will stay crystal clear for longer than cheaper finishes.

Is lacquer toxic?

Some solvent-based lacquers contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can be harmful to health. Always work in a well-ventilated area. Water-based and low-VOC options have much lower odor and toxicity.

Can you put lacquer over paint or stain?

Yes, lacquer adheres well to any porous surface and most non-porous surfaces when properly prepared. It can be applied over paint, stain, varnish, polyurethane, etc. Just make sure the existing finish is degreased, lightly sanded and dust-free.

Brighten Up Your Home With Lacquer

A lacquer coating offers a gorgeous glossy finish that comes in endless vibrant colors. It creates a durable, protective barrier that holds up to heavy use. With proper preparation and application techniques, lacquer can give worn surfaces or lackluster decor a fresh new look. Use this versatile finish throughout your home to add pops of color, protect wood, and keep surfaces looking their best.

Keep Things Fresh With a Bright Lacquer Finish

Adding a bright, glossy lacquer finish is a great way to instantly revive old furniture, floors, cabinets and more. The durable and protective coating comes in a rainbow of colors to give any surface in your home a fun, fresh update.

What is Lacquer?

Lacquer is a type of clear or colored coating that dries to a very hard, durable gloss finish. The main ingredients are resins, solvents, and pigments or dyes for color. Common types include nitrocellulose, acrylic, and water-based lacquers. When applied in multiple thin layers, lacquer cures to a smooth, glass-like surface.

Compared to paint or wood stain, lacquer creates a much tougher protective barrier that resists scratches, spills, and moisture. The slick finish also makes lacquer-coated surfaces very easy to clean by just wiping down.

Benefits of a Lacquer Finish

There are many great reasons to consider a lacquer coating for home decor projects:

  • Extremely durable and scratch-resistant surface
  • Vibrant, glossy colors that really pop
  • Protects against everyday wear and tear
  • Resists water damage and stains
  • Quick drying times speed up project completion
  • Easy to wipe clean without damaging the finish
  • Long-lasting shine doesn’t dull over time
  • Can recoated without stripping old layers

Lacquer stands out from other finishes with its hard, protective qualities and eye-catching gloss sheen.

Prepping Surfaces for Lacquering

To achieve the best results, properly preparing surfaces is crucial before applying lacquer. Here are the key steps:

  • Clean thoroughly with a degreasing agent to remove any dirt, wax, oil or existing finishes
  • Sand the surface lightly to help the lacquer adhere and cure smoothly
  • Carefully wipe away all dust with a tack cloth
  • Fill any small cracks, holes or imperfections with filler and sand flat once dry
  • Apply primer and sand again if needed, especially for raw wood
  • Mask off any areas, like hinges or trim, that you don’t want to get lacquer on

This prep work prevents problems like peeling, bubbling, blotchiness or dull spots in the final lacquer finish.

Application Tips for DIY Lacquering

Lacquer can be brushed, wiped or sprayed on successfully:

  • Brushing: Use a high-quality natural bristle brush designed for lacquer. Flow on in thin, even coats with the wood grain.
  • Wiping: Soak a clean cotton rag in lacquer, then wring it out well. Wipe smoothly across the surface.
  • Spraying: Mist on light coats holding the sprayer 6-8 inches away and moving at a steady pace.

Regardless of technique, apply numerous thin coats allowing complete drying time between each. Thick coats can lead to drips and uneven finish. Be patient to achieve the best looking lacquer finish.

Creative Lacquer Ideas for a Fresh Home

A bright lacquer finish can be used in many rooms to revive and protect surfaces:

  • Furniture: Give tired wooden furniture or flea market finds a glossy painted lacquer finish. Try bright colors or distressed patterns.
  • Kitchen cabinets: Refinish worn cabinets rather than replace. Lacquer provides a moisture-resistant coating that stands up to daily use.
  • Coffee tables: A glassy lacquer finish adds protection and prevents water rings on wood or metal tables. Use coasters!
  • Wood flooring: Refresh dull, scratched floors with coats of tinted lacquer. Choose gloss for vibrancy or satin for subtle sheen.
  • Doors: Lacquer entry doors in a bold color to make a fun statement. Use clear lacquer on interior doors to show off the wood grain.
  • Outdoor furniture: Protect patio and porch pieces from seasonal weathering with UV-resistant lacquer in fun colors.

With the right preparation and application techniques, it’s easy to use lacquer to keep surfaces throughout your home looking fresh. The vibrant colors and resilient finish will have your decor shining like new for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions About Lacquer Finishes

Here are answers to some top questions about lacquering:

What are the different types of lacquer finishes?

Common varieties include gloss, satin, matte and colored lacquer. Gloss has the highest shine while matte is completely flat. Satin is soft sheen. Colored lacquer comes in any paint color.

Does lacquer change color over time?

High quality lacquers are formulated to resist yellowing. With proper care, they will maintain their clarity and color for many years before needing to be refreshed.

Can you apply lacquer over stained wood?

Yes, lacquer adheres very well to porous surfaces like stained wood and will not react with the stain. Just ensure the stain is fully cured before lacquering.

Is lacquer difficult for a beginner DIYer to apply?

Lacquer is easier to apply than many finishes like polyurethane or epoxy. The fast drying time makes smoothing out drips and runs much simpler. Proper preparation is the most important step.

How durable and protective is a lacquer finish?

Lacquer is one of the most durable, scratch resistant clear finishes. The hard surface protects against moisture, spills, UV rays and everyday wear and tear better than paint, stain or wax.


Reviving worn furniture, floors, cabinets and more with a bright lacquer finish is an easy DIY project with gorgeous, durable results. Proper preparation and patience in applying thin coats creates a smooth, resilient finish that dries quickly. A lacquered surface adds a shiny, fresh look to home decor while protecting against damage.