One question that I get sometimes is this one; “will spray paint stick to lacquer?”. The answer is ‘yes, but you need to prepare it beforehand’. You will need to sand it lightly first, wipe it down with a dampened cloth, and then apply an oil-based primer. Once it dries, then you may paint over it with oil or latex paints.
Today I’ll give you a crash-course in painting over lacquer where we’ll discuss if you may paint over it without sanding, how to identify various lacquer finishes and whether or not you can paint over nitrocellulose lacquer.
Let’s look a little at some lacquer!
Can I paint over lacquer without sanding?
No, you cannot. Unfortunately, you are always going to need to sand the lacquer first before you will be able to paint it. If the surface that you want to paint is unprepared or even if it’s dirty, the paint is not going to stick properly and you’ll likely have to start over at square one, sanding it down completely so that you may paint and seal as you like.
You will also want to use the right sandpaper for the job. 300-grit sandpaper is going to be ideal for sanding down a flat or an eggshell finish lacquer, while a gloss or a semi-gloss is going to be better sanded with a 150-grit sandpaper.
If you haven’t painted over lacquer before, then not to worry. There is an easy way for you to tell if a surface has a lacquer coating so that you can identify this and then determine what type of finish you are working with.
How can you tell if paint is lacquer?
To ensure that you are dealing with lacquer there is a quick test that you can run. Put a little lacquer stripper onto a clean cloth and wipe at a portion of the painted surface you are wanting to test. If color bleeds onto the cloth quickly, then you are looking at an enamel paint, but if color doesn’t come off without a lot of rubbing then it is likely a lacquer surface.
You should be able to tell a little bit about the type of lacquer with a light touch. If it feels slick and slippery, it’s probably a high or semi-gloss, while a surface the feels coated, but looks quite natural, is likely lacquered with flat or an eggshell finish.
To learn a little more about lacquer, you can see a nice 3rd party article that I’ve found here. It goes into some of the finer points of working with lacquer and is a nice supplemental read while you’re planning your project. Enjoy!
Can you paint over nitrocellulose lacquer?
Yes, you can, but you are going to have to use a paint which uses acetone as it’s thinner. The biggest problem that you run into if you do not do when painting nitrocellulose lacquer is that your paint might have a reaction the lacquers binders. If this does occur, then you end up with obvious blemishes in the work that will never fully harder to cure appropriately.
For a little more information about drying times, be sure to check out our guide on the subject https://paintingbuzz.com/how-long-does-it-take-spray-paint-to-dry-complete-guide/) here.
If you DO decide to try another paint, just be sure to be very careful about it by picking a small test spot on an area that is not quite so noticeable. Here you can place a nice, round dab of your paint and then see what happens when that paint is fully dried.
If you get lucky and that preferred paint passes the test, then go ahead and paint away – just be advised that in most cases, if you aren’t going with a paint that employs an acetone thinner then you won’t be able to paint the nitrocellulose lacquer properly.
In today’s article we’ve answered the question ‘will spray paint stick to lacquer’ and as you can see, it certainly can… provided that you sand it first with a 150 or 300-grit sandpaper, prime it, and then wait for that primer to dry before painting. You can also use lacquer stripper to test for lacquer and a touch test and visual data will let you know the finish that you are working with. Finally, with nitrocellulose lacquer, always goes with a paint that uses and acetone thinner and you should be good.
Until next time, I wish you the best of luck on your spray-painting project!