How Many Coats Of Lacquer For The Perfect Finish?

Lacquers have become the new revolution in woodworking. The texture of lacquer is not the same as the conventionally used varnish. 

Hence, it gets very confusing when using lacquer for coating wood pieces. Not giving enough coats makes it too thin. While giving a little too much makes it too thick.

So, the ultimate question is, how many coats of lacquer would be ideal?

Lacquer can either be sprayed over. Or we can just brush it over. Ideally, most people find 6-9 sprayed coats to be sufficient. However, if you’d want to use a brush, the number of coatings would be lesser. Likewise, there are some other factors depending on which the number of coatings can vary. 

Now, do you want to know about the other factors in-depth? You better start reading right away!

How Many Coats Of Lacquer?

how many coats of lacquer

Typically, if we are using spray applicators, 6-7 coats should be fine. And if we’re using a brush, then 3-4 coats is alright. This applies to a medium size tabletop. The number can vary depending on some other factors. 

On a side note, are you wondering which lacquer to get? Here are our best-picked ones: 

Choose either one for your desired outlook.

Factors That Affect The Number Of Coatings:

There are a number of important considerations while coating lacquer. How do these components affect the number of coatings? The answer lies in the next section. 

Finisher Type: Spraying Or Brushing?

Spray lacquers remain the most popular option because they dry off faster. And gives a smoother outcome.

Let’s assume that you have taken a wooden surface. Suppose, we need 3-4 coatings on it when we’re using a brush. However, when we use a spray, the number of required coatings would be around 7-8. 

To even start with it, spray finishing tends to be thinner than the ones in openable cans. Hence, spray cans require more coatings.

So, conclusively, if it requires us 6-7 sprays, it would require us 4-5 brush coats.  

How Thin To Make The Lacquer?

Thinning the lacquer in a 50/50 portion is the most conventional ratio. 

Now, let me give you the best tip you can use in any case!

In most good lacquers, the can contains some advice on how many coats to cover. But this advice is irrespective of thinning the lacquer before application. 

Hence, if you thin it by 50/50 proportion, just double the number of coats that are listed on the can. And voila! You will be lacquering your furnishings like a pro!

Which Type Of Lacquer? 

When we’re using wood lacquer, 3 to 5 coats usually work well. However, the number can slightly vary depending on the surface area of the wood. 

Also, wood lacquer has 3 subcategories in itself. Namely, they are nitrocellulose lacquers, acrylic lacquers, and catalyzed lacquers. 

It is true that the physical and chemical properties may slightly vary for these 3 categories. But wait, let me tell you something! 

The number of coatings doesn’t vary much! So, don’t be overwhelmed!   

Spray Techniques Affect The Number Of Coatings Too?

Let us create a scenario here to grasp the situation better. Say, we’re lacquering the back surface of an acoustic guitar. We’ve two options of spray applicators in hand: spray guns and aerosol cans. 

The most common type of spray gun is the one within 70-75F at 40-50% RH. So, let’s suppose that we are using this one.

We’d need a total of around 14 coats. Breaking it down, we would need 2 sealers, 6 to 8 build-ups, and 2 thinned-down final touch-up coats.  

On the other hand, if we are using an aerosol spray, then the number of coats required would increase. Now the question is, by how much? 

To be exact, it would increase by one and a one-third to one and a half more coats. 

Point to be noted though, aerosol sprays don’t give any flexibility during usage at all. 

On the other, for spray guns, we can vary the spray pattern, air pressure, flow and setting, etc. Hence, there is more variance in spray techniques. As a result, we can get more variance in the number of coats required.

I mean, that’s an easy equation to correlate, right? 

What Role Does The Environment Play Here? 

Professionals handpick the days they lacquer after going through weather forecasts! Yes, that is a thing! Humidity in the air and the temperature affect how our finishing can be.

Is the weather too humid? Or is the temperature too high? 

These are points to be noted as they would mess up the lacquer. It wouldn’t want to sit in place and there would be spots seen here and there. 

To smoothen it, more coatings than the usual 6-7 coats would be required. 

However, if we want a textured outlook, then it’s fine. But do you want the finishing to be glass smooth? 

Then we may require as much as 20-30 coats may even be required with sanding in between!

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How long should you wait between coats of lacquer?

Answer: A standard of two can coatings is advised in one day. Yes, the lacquer may dry off only a few hours after application. And this may tempt us to go for the next coat. But, more time is required for it to settle. So, leaving it alone for a minimum of 8 hours before the next coating would give the best results.

Question: How many coats of lacquer should I apply to wood?

Answer: A minimum of three coats work best for ideal longevity and protection. Sand with sandpaper that is meticulously fine in texture. Make sure to wait between each coat.

Question: What finish can be applied over lacquer?

Answer:  Hands down, alkyd varnish should be the number one choice. Polyurethane can be the best choice here. But that’s not true. Polyurethane does not adhere as well with the lacquer as alkyd varnish does.

Wrapping Up

The more we lacquer, the more you’ll understand how many coats of lacquer should be used. 

However, the best result can come to us after we collect all the important tips to consider. Let us know if the factors we portrayed to you have helped or not! 

Happy lacquering! 

Kevin Smith

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