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Give That Sheen to Your Antique Furniture with Lacquer!

Lacquer furniture,using lacquer on antique furniture,furniture with lacquer finish

Are you very keen to show off the wood grain in your antique furniture (stained, or otherwise)? Then you better opt for a finishing agent like lacquer. For it is specifically meant for that purpose. Of course, if you find that there are defects in your piece, please work on that first before you go in for the “finishing”. Lacquer cannot conceal damages all that well.

What you could do is to stain first, and apply the finishing agent later. Please do not believe those salespersons who try to sell you a brush-on (the stain is incorporated into the lacquer). This is a combination of stain and finish—you do not want colored streaks all over your precious antique!

You can use lacquer over raw wood and shellac. It even comes as a sealer specifically created to be the undercoat for a lacquer finish. Naturally, you will not need an additional substrate sealer when you work with this product. Even if your furniture has had coatings of polyurethane or varnish earlier, you need not feel apprehensive; lacquer will not get attached to them. Certain paints are also safe from lacquer; not all, though.

You have the option of using a brush or an aerosol for application. You will discover that it dries very quickly. So if you are working with a brush, be quick! You can go in for any sheen; the range stretches from flat to high gloss.

There is something that you need to be aware of here. When varnish or polyurethane or paint is utilized, each one undergoes a chemical change during the process of drying. This does not happen with lacquer—the material remains exactly the same as in the can. So if you are going to apply coat after coat, you will end up with a very messy finish. The solvents in the second coat will dissolve the first coat; the third coat will adversely affect both the previous coats, and so on!

One way of avoiding this problem would be to allow for more time between “dryings”. However, there is another technique that professionals adopt. After the very first coating, spray lacquer thinner over the entire piece. (A brush is only meant for “steady hands”.) Give it time to dry. Your first finish is dissolving, but doing good work—it is filling up the “wounds” (tiny scratches and minute holes) in your item. In case you feel the need, provide a second application once the piece is dry.

Did you realize the other advantage here? You can repair damages without the need for stripping your furniture all over again. That is why 99% of furniture meant for commercial use prefers lacquer.

Of course, we cannot claim that lacquer is 100% perfect! It has its disadvantages. Where durability is concerned, varnish and polyurethane are superior. If not handled carefully, scratches show up quickly. Your pieces have to be kept away from moisture or water—they can get damaged.


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