HOW TO REMOVE LACQUER FROM WOOD? 

october 26,2021

👋 With a little bit of patience and hard work, you can remove an old lacquer finish from your wood product and prepare it for refinishing in no time. Lacquer looks great on wood. It provides a hard, durable finish that can have any sheen from ultra matte to a high gloss. It is also much more durable than its predecessor in the furniture industry. Because of this, it can be difficult to remove. Fortunately, it is not as hard as it looks.

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  • "Removing Lacquer isn’t always quick, but it’s not hard either."



"Removing Lacquer isn’t always quick, but it’s not hard either."


TAKE PROPER SAFETY MEASURES

Remember, lacquer can be toxic, so getting it on your skin, eyes, mouth, or even just breathing chemical fumes can be dangerous.


So, here’s a list of protective gear you can use: respirator or dust mask, safety glasses, safety or rubber gloves, long-sleeved shirt, long pants, safety boots.


Keep them on at all times while removing the lacquer. Otherwise, you may easily breathe or come in contact with the chemicals that can be awfully dangerous.

PREPARE THE AREA YOU'LL BE WORKING ON

Create good ventilation by opening windows and doors and by using a fan to create cross-ventilation. Place one fan so it’s blowing into the room and another one so that it is blowing out a window. This facilitates the removal of toxic air inside the room.


Cover furniture and other areas to protect these from dust, residue or stains. Spread a drop cloth on the wooden floor to protect it if you are removing lacquer from furniture or walls. If you are removing lacquer from furniture, remove any hardware like knobs and hinges. Place these in a safe place. Place in separate plastic baggies and label these so it won’t be hard to reinstall these on the piece of furniture when you are done.

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REMOVE LACQUER FROM WOOD

METHOD 1- REMOVE LACQUER WITH A SOLVENT


The first method and best way to remove lacquer from wood are by using a solvent.

Because lacquer is an alcohol-based finish, a solvent gets rid of the finish without causing any damage to the wood. At the same time, it makes the lacquer come right off without much hassle.  

Step One: Prepare the Solvent


In a bucket, mix equal parts denatured alcohol and lacquer thinner. Be sure to do this in a well-ventilated area, as the fumes from these chemicals can be dangerous as well. In fact, wear your respirator and work outside if you can. The last thing you want to do is pass out from the fumes while working. With all the effort that will be needed to sand and scrape the lacquer away, there will be plenty of time for passing out later.

Step Two: Apply the Solvent


Apply a thick coat of the mixture to a small area of the wood with a paintbrush. Scrub the lacquer with steel wool. Give the removal chemicals time to work, but don’t let them dry. The mixture should sit for only about one minute. 

Step Three: Start Scraping


Grab the hard-brittle brush or steel wool. Then start scraping the surface with the lacquer. Do it in circles to start removing the extra solvent with the lacquer. It should come right off with a gentle brush. 

Step Four: Clean the Surface


When you have finished, you will see that the mixture of the lacquer with the solvent may have left dust or loose debris, so it is better to wipe with a clean cloth soaked in solvent until the wood is clean.

Step Five: Repeat if Needed


Examine the stripped section of wood. If some lacquer remains, repeat the process until it is completely free of the finish. Continue removing the lacquer in this fashion from small sections of the wood until you have stripped the whole item. For the final removal, rub the steel wool in the direction of the wood grain.

If there aren’t more lacquered areas in the wood anymore, then that means you’ve successfully removed the lacquer using a solvent!

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METHOD 2- REMOVE LACQUER BY SANDING


Another method for lacquer removing from wood is to use sandpaper or a sanding machine. You may also use both to achieve a perfect result.


Step One: Clean the Wood


Clean the wood to get rid of any lodged dirt and dust. You can just use warm soapy water or a household cleaner to do this. Let the wood dry for at least 5 minutes before you start sanding.

Step Two: Rough Up the Surface


Use 150-grit sandpaper or sanding block. Work toward the grain of the wood and never against it. You must also make sure that you sand even the nooks and crannies of the furniture or flooring. Move to a 220-grit sandpaper after you are satisfied with working with a 150-grit paper. Go over the whole piece or floor using this sandpaper. Stop when you have removed most of the varnish. The nooks and crannies of furniture will be more difficult so you need to pay special attention. It would be better to use a sanding block or sandpaper to reach these areas.

Note : An orbital sander will make this job much easier and quicker if you’re removing lacquer from a flat surface. However you will have to sand by hand for curved surfaces.

Step Three: Remove the Dust


Remove any dust by wiping. Afterwards, use a damp tack cloth to go over the area. This step is crucial because you don’t want to leave dust or residue on the surface of the piece.

Step Four: Finish the Sanding 


Finish with a fine sandpaper to polish the wood, remove traces of paint and scratches caused by the previous pass.

Step Five: Ta-da! Your Wood is Ready!


After a few minutes, you’ll be ready to enjoy a smoother wood surface. You’ve successfully finished the sanding-removing process and obtained a renewed piece of wood.

Regardless of what kind of method you want to choose, removing lacquer from wood is not as hard as it seems. But it still requires some effort and time. So, don’t worry if you need to get rid of some lacquer from a piece of wood. It is not rocket science, and almost anyone can do it!

Josh J. Gur - CEO

CEO of Sanrico

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