How To Remove Lacquer From Wood

How To Remove Lacquer From Wood

Lacquer is a compound that is used to protect wooden surfaces. It is applied to the wood by hand using a brush. After the application, it takes some time before the lacquer dries completely.

How To Remove Lacquer From Wood

Lacquer is an excellent coating for furniture.

Over time, however, it wears off and gets stained. You’ll need to know how to remove lacquer if you want your furniture to look new again.

Keep reading to find out how you can remove lacquer from wood today!

Prepare Yourself And The Work Area Before Removing Lacquer From Furniture

Lacquer finishes are very difficult to remove, but if you follow these steps, you can easily do it. You need to use a solvent, such as acetone or turpentine. 

First, clean your surface thoroughly by wiping it down with soap and water. 

Then, apply some thin layers of lacquer thinner over the entire surface. Let it dry completely before applying another layer. Repeat this process until you have removed all the lacquer.

Gather All the Necessary Items

Before using a solvent, you should use sandpaper or steel wool to remove any excess lacquer. Sanding may take several hours, depending on how much lacquer there is.

Steel wool may be quicker but can scratch the surface of the wood. 

A lacquer thinner can also be used to dissolve the lacquer. Be careful when using this because it could damage the finish if you’re not careful.

Find A Ventilated Place

You should search for an air-conditioned room or building. The fumes from the chemicals could harm your lungs if you don’t have proper ventilation.

Fumes can harm both humans and animals. A fan can help remove bad smells. Opening windows and doors can also help.

Gather Cleaning Items

Once you remove the lacquer, you’ll be left with tons of residue. Therefore, it is vital to have all the necessary cleaning tools ready, so you can thoroughly clean up afterward.

You can use a broom, dustpan, mop, bucket with water, soap or detergent, scrub brush, vacuum (optional), and more.

Wear Safety Gear

You should wear gloves when using lacquer because it is toxic. Lacquer can be harmful if it gets into your eyes, mouth, or lungs. Gloves protect you from this, as do goggles and a dust mask.

Respirators, dust masks, safety glasses, long sleeves, long pants, safety boots, and gloves are necessary when working with lacquer. Lacquer is very flammable and can cause serious injury if inhaled.

Protect Other Areas And Furniture

Now you’re almost ready to start. Before you do, make sure your house is protected from damage by using newspapers or cloths as a barrier. Duct tape should be used to hold the paper or cloths in place.

Solvents are very dangerous chemicals. You should never touch them without gloves and safety equipment. When you’re done, clean up your workspace by cleaning everything off your hands, clothes, and tools.

How To Remove Lacquer From Wood With Solvent

Lacquer is a clear coat used to protect the wood. You should use solvents to remove lacquer because it is made of alcohol. Solvents get rid of the lacquer without damaging the wood.

Prepare Or Buy The Solvent

A solvent is a chemical used to dissolve something else. Lacquer is a clear coating that protects wood furniture. It can be removed with a solvent such as turpentine. 

You can buy this at hardware stores.

Apply The Solvent

Once you have the lacquer removal solution, you’re ready to apply it. First, grab the old brush and dip it into the solvent. Then spread the lacquer over the wood surface with the brush. 

Don’t let the solvent dry out. Keep spreading the solvent in small sections until it covers the entire surface.

Separating the wood surface into different sections, depending on its size, helps you apply the solvent consistently.

Covering the entire area where the paint is applied, using the same amount of solvent, will help you avoid wasting any paint.

Let The Solvent Dry

Once applied, the solvent works quickly. After 2 minutes, the lacquer will be ready to remove. It won’t get soft or cloudy but will come right off as liquid (or chips) after 2 minutes.

You should add more solvent if your mixture isn’t hard enough. However, adding too much solvent could cause the paint to dry out and crack.

Remove The Solvent

Don’t wipe too harshly as you might accidentally spread the solvent around.

After removing most of the solvent, you should use an old rag or fabric to remove the remaining solvent from the wooden surface. Brush further if necessary.

You’re almost done! The wood feels rough and coarse now.

Remove The Remains

Now use the putty or plastic blade to remove any remaining residue. Don’t scratch the wood. Follow the grain of the wood to avoid damaging it.

Lacquered wood looks shiny and smooth. Try to look for spots that have a lacquer finish left. Remove the cloudy or solvent-looking parts.

This will make the wooden part look dry and almost uncolored. It means you’ve successfully removed most of the paint.

Remove Lacquer By Sanding

Sandpaper and sanding machines are used to remove lacquer from wood. Sanding machines work faster than sandpaper.

If you’re doing this by hand without a machine, you should use a sanding block to avoid finger marks on your wooden furniture.

Clean The Wood

Sanding should be done after cleaning the surface of the wood. You should use soap or detergent mixed with water to remove dirt and grime.

You need to use soap and water to clean your wood. Use a hard-bristled brush to remove stains and dirt. Add vinegar if necessary.

Sanding is done by rubbing the surface with sandpaper. You must first dry the wood surface before starting sanding.

Remove The Finish

Sanding machines use disks with different grit levels to remove layers of paint. You can also use sandpaper by hand. Start by grabbing a piece of 80-grit paper.

Sanding machines are handy tools for finishing wood surfaces. Try to sand following the grain. Don’t go too fast, or you’ll lose control over the tool. Be careful not to scratch the wood surface.

Lacquer removal takes about 10 to 30 minutes with the machine and anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours with sandpaper.

It gives you an almost lacquer-free finish. You may want it to be rough enough or else remove all the remaining lacquer.

Rough Up The Surface

To remove the lacquer completely, you must first roughen the surface. Use the 150-grit paper to do this. Then use the 220-grit paper to smooth out the surface.

Remove any remaining lacquer you saw. Make sure to be consistent and leave a flat surface.

You’ll finish when the surface looks rough and almost like raw wood. If that’s the case, then you’re almost ready to finish.

Remove The Dust

How To Remove Lacquer From Wood (1)

Once you’ve finished sanding, you’ll need to clean up the mess. Use a soft brush or sponge to wipe away any remaining dust. You may also want to use some water to help remove the dust.


Lacquer is a sticky substance that sticks to surfaces. You need to remove it by using a solvent or by sanding. After removing the lacquer, you should clean everything up and then prepare your tools.

Lacquer removal is easy but takes a lot of time and effort. Don’t be discouraged if you need to remove lacquer from wood. You can do it!


Diarmuid Brock

I'm a carpenter by day and an amateur woodworker by night. I don't believe in limitations, and I love to help others. I'm here to answer your questions and make your life simpler. I craft and create with all-natural, reclaimed, and repurposed materials.

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