How to Paint Over Lacquer Cabinets?

Lacquer cabinets are a great choice because of their sleek and classic look which enhances the overall elegance of the space. But over time, the look of the lacquer cabinets diminishes due to scratches or wear and tear and you need to paint over lacquer cabinets again.

Painting over lacquer cabinets can face several challenges. The glossy finish that makes lacquer so appealing also makes it difficult for paint to adhere properly. Preparing the surface requires careful sanding and the application of the right primers to ensure a smooth finish.

By keeping this common issue in mind, we have a step-by-step guide for you to paint over lacquer cabinets without any professional help. Take your time and follow each step carefully to paint over your cabinets perfectly.

Safety Precautions

Before over-painting the lacquer cabinets, it is crucial to take several safety precautions to protect yourself and ensure a perfect result. Here are some key steps to consider:

  1. Ventilation: Ensure that the workspace is well-ventilated. Lacquer and paints often emit strong fumes that can be harmful if stay between for large periods.
  2. Protective Gear: Wear gloves to protect your skin from harsh chemicals, safety goggles, and a mask to protect your eyes and lungs from dust and fumes.
  3. Workspace Preparation: Cover floors, countertops, and any other surfaces with drop cloths or plastic sheeting to protect them from drips and spills. Tape off edges and areas that you do not want to paint.
  4. Fire Safety: Keep in mind that many lacquer products are highly flammable. Avoid any open flames or sparks in the workspace, including pilot lights in stoves or heaters. Have a fire extinguisher nearby just in case.
  5. Proper Disposal: Dispose of any used rags, sandpaper, and empty containers properly. Rags soaked in lacquer thinner or paint can be a fire hazard if not disposed of correctly.

These safety precautions minimize risks and create a safer work environment to focus on work. Take your time while painting to avoid any loss.

Step-by-step Guide

To achieve perfect results when painting over lacquer cabinets, it’s crucial to follow a step-by-step guide. These steps will guide you from first to last for painting your lacquer cabinets.

Tools and Materials

To successfully paint over lacquer cabinets, you will need the following tools and materials:

  • Sandpaper
  • Sanding Block or Orbital Sander
  • Tack Cloths
  • Primer
  • Paintbrushes and Rollers
  • High-Quality Paint
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Drop Cloths or Plastic Sheeting
  • Stir Sticks
  • Paint Trays
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Respirator Mask

Step 1: Clean the Cabinets

Before you start painting over lacquer cabinets, thorough cleaning is essential. Begin by removing dirt and grease. Use a mild detergent mixed with warm water to clean the cabinet surfaces. A solution of dish soap and water works well to remove everyday dirt and grease.

For stubborn stains or grease, you might need to use a degreaser. Apply it with a soft cloth or sponge and scrub lightly to avoid damaging the lacquer surface. After cleaning, rinse the surfaces with clean water to remove any soap or degreaser residue.

Once the cabinets are clean and dry, inspect them for any remaining grime or residue. If necessary, repeat the cleaning process to ensure they are thoroughly clean.

Step 2: Sand the Surface

Sanding the surface of your lacquer cabinets is a critical step to ensure that the new paint adheres effectively. Start by choosing the right sandpaper as medium-grit (120 to 150 grit) sandpaper is ideal.

Use a sanding block or an orbital sander to achieve an even finish. Move the sandpaper in a circular motion, ensuring you cover all areas thoroughly. Be sure to sand all flat surfaces and pay extra attention to corners.

After sanding, wipe down the cabinets with a damp cloth to remove any dust and debris. It is important to get rid of all sanding residue for the primer to adhere properly.

Step 3: Apply a Primer

Applying a primer is essential for ensuring that the paint adheres well to the lacquered surface and provides a smooth, even base for the final coat. Choose a high-quality bonding primer specifically designed for glossy surfaces.

Use a high-quality synthetic bristle brush or a foam roller to achieve a smooth surface. Start at the edges and corners with the brush, and use the roller for larger flat surfaces.

One coat of primer is generally sufficient, but if you’re dealing with particularly dark or stained wood, you may want to apply a second coat.

Let it dry typically, takes about 1 to 2 hours for the primer to dry to the touch. However, it’s best to allow it to cure for at least 24 hours for optimal adhesion before moving on to the painting step.

Step 4: Paint the Cabinets

Select a paint that is suitable for cabinetry and designed to adhere to glossy surfaces. Using a high-quality synthetic bristle brush, start painting the edges and corners of the cabinet doors, and drawers.

For flat and larger surfaces, use a foam roller to apply the paint. Foam rollers provide a smooth, even coat without brush marks. It’s crucial to apply the paint in thin, even coats to ensure a smooth finish.

Allow each coat to dry thoroughly which typically takes about 4 to 6 hours between coats. After each coat dries, lightly sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper (220-grit or higher).

Depending on the coverage of your paint and the color change you are making, you may need to apply 2 to 3 coats of paint. Once the final coat is completely dry, inspect the cabinets for any spots that may need touch-up.

Step 5: Finishing Touches:

Once the paint has fully cured, consider adding a protective topcoat to enhance the durability of your lacquered cabinets. A clear polyurethane or polyacrylic topcoat can provide an additional layer of protection against scratches, stains, and general wear and tear.

After completing the top coating process, clean the surrounding area to remove any dust or debris that may have accumulated during the painting process. This will ensure your newly refreshed cabinets remain pristine and your space looks tidy and polished.

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Maintenance Tips

  1. Regular Cleaning: Wipe down your cabinets regularly with a soft, damp cloth to remove dust and prevent buildup. Avoid using abrasive cleaners as they can damage the lacquer finish.
  2. Avoid Excessive Moisture: Keep cabinets dry as much as possible. Excess moisture can cause the paint to bubble or peel. Wipe away spills immediately to prevent water damage.
  3. Use Gentle Cleaners: If deeper cleaning is needed, mix a few drops of mild dish soap with warm water and gently clean the surface. Rinse with a damp cloth and dry thoroughly.
  4. Handle with Care: Open and close cabinet doors gently to avoid chipping or scratching the paint. Consider attaching soft-close mechanisms to hinges to reduce impact and wear.
  5. Protect from Heat and Sunlight: Long exposure to heat and direct sunlight can fade or yellow the lacquer finish. Use curtains or blinds to protect cabinets from direct sunlight.

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Can you paint over lacquer on cabinets?

Painting over lacquer cabinets can be done but you need to prepare it properly to achieve a good adherence to the paint. You can manually sand the surface to roughen it and remove the shiny lacquer coating, then prime it with a good primer before applying the paint.

What kind of paint can go over lacquer?

A good quality high-build acrylic enamel or latex paint can work well to cover lacquer. These paints are mostly used for their durability and excellent film formation when applied with a suitable primer. Giving the surface a roughening and applying primer can ensure good adhesion of the paint on lacquer surfaces for a long time.

How many coats of lacquer on kitchen cabinets?

Normally, 2 to 3 layers of lacquer for kitchen cabinets are enough to achieve a long-lasting and resistant coating. This will give your cabinets a nice glossy finish and the protective layer on the wood is strongly built to withstand moisture and everyday spills and damages.

Can I use a paint sprayer for lacquer cabinets?

Yes, a paint sprayer for lacquer cabinets is highly recommended. A sprayer can deliver the lacquer paint evenly and smoothly on the surface while preventing brush strokes which mostly gives a more professional looking finish that can truly enhance the beauty of your cabinets.

How durable is the paint finish on lacquer cabinets?

The paint finish when applied properly with a compatible primer and topcoat can withstand scratches, moisture, and stains on lacquer surfaces. This is why it is very ideal to use paint on cabinetry as it can handle heavy traffic areas like the kitchen and bathroom.

Final Thoughts

Painting over lacquer cabinets is a great option that can significantly refresh and modernize your space. By following each step carefully, you can paint over your lacquer cabinets without any professional help.

Moreover, if you have any queries about painting cabinets, you can leave a comment in the comment box below. We will try our best to reply as soon as we can. GOOD LUCK!

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