How Many Coats of Lacquer Paint? (Explained!)

Lacquer paint is common because of the clarity and durability of the finish. But to get that clear and durable lacquer finish, you need to apply the right number of lacquer coats. So how many coats of lacquer should you apply?

If you want to apply lacquer on an existing finish, you should apply 3 coats for good protection. Since there is an existing finish on the surface, you only need the lacquer paint for protection and not coverage so 3 coats are enough.

However, if you want to apply the lacquer on a bare surface, you should apply 4-5 coats. When applying multiple coats of lacquer, allow each coat to dry for at least 30 minutes before sanding and applying the next coat.

This article explains a lot more about the number of lacquer coats required for different surfaces. Let’s dive in

Why Does The Number Of Coats Matter For Lacquer Paint?

Why Does The Number Of Coats Matter For Lacquer Paint?

The number of coats matter for lacquer paint because it determines the clarity, durability, and maintenance of the finish. Lacquer is a thin and transparent finish – Since it’s thin, you need to apply enough coats for good wood protection. But, too many coats will make the transparent finish blurry. The number of coats is very important if you want a good lacquer finish.

Like other types of paints, the number of coats matters when working with lacquer. The main reason for this is that lacquer paint is a transparent finish.

Transparent finishes like lacquer are often tricky to apply because they require a certain number of coats to produce that clear finish. If you don’t apply the needed number of coats, the finish will not come out as it should.

So, what happens if you don’t use enough coats of lacquer paint? Let’s find out.

What Happens If You Don’t Use Enough Coats Of Lacquer Paint?

If you don’t use enough coats of lacquer paint, the finish will not be durable. This is because lacquer is a thin finish and as such, you need more coats of it so it doesn’t fade or chip off of the surface easily. Asides from this, the lacquer will not offer any moisture resistance to the surface if you don’t apply enough coats. So, the surface will be affected by moisture and eventually mold. The minimum coats of lacquer paint are 3.

Lacquer is a thin finish and the thin flow of the paint allows it to penetrate porous surfaces like wood, concrete, and synthetic wood. When lacquer is applied, the first few coats are absorbed by the wood and they form the base coat. Since lacquer is thin and easily absorbed, you’ll need enough coats of it for good coverage and protection, especially on unfinished surfaces.

If you don’t apply enough coats of lacquer, the finish will not offer any wood protection and will not be durable. This is because the thin lacquer finish will be easily worn off the surface. Since the lacquer is thin, it won’t protect the wood too because dents, scratch marks, and stains will affect the wood.

Next, let’s find out what happens if you apply too many coats of lacquer.

What Happens If You Use Too Many Coats Of Lacquer?

If you apply too many coats of lacquer, the paint will begin to crack and the finish will be blurry. This is because there will be too many coats of paint on the surface causing the transparent lacquer finish to turn blurry or cloudy. The maximum number of lacquer coats is 5 while using a paintbrush and 7 while using a paint sprayer.

Though lacquer paint is thin, you still don’t want to apply too many coats. When you apply too many coats, the finish will not be as transparent as it should be – the finish will appear cloudy or blurry and not transparent.

Another thing that will happen from too many coats of lacquer is that the finish will begin to crack. When using a paintbrush to apply the lacquer, you shouldn’t apply more than 5 coats and when spraying the lacquer, the maximum number of coats is usually 7.

How Do You Know If You Need A Second Coat Of Lacquer Paint?

How Do You Know If You Need A Second Coat Of Lacquer Paint?

To know if you need a second coat of lacquer paint, you should check the user’s guide or manufacturer’s instructions. Lacquer paint manufacturers usually include the right number of coats to apply in the user’s guide.

You can also know if you need a second coat of lacquer by inspecting the finish when it’s dry. If the lacquer finish feels lighter than you want, you should apply a second coat. However, you should know that in most if not all cases, you’ll need a second coat of lacquer paint.

Lacquer paint usually needs a second coat because of the thinness of the finish. A coat of lacquer will rarely give you any coverage or protection and most manufacturers advise at least 3 coats of lacquer. To know for sure if you need a second coat, check the manufacturer’s instructions.

How Long Should You Wait Between Coats Of Lacquer Paint?

You should wait at least 30 minutes between coats of lacquer paint. Lacquer paint is a solvent-based quick-drying paint that dries almost immediately but you should wait between 30 minutes and 1 hour before recoating the lacquer finish. In moist and cold conditions, you should wait about 2 hours before recoating lacquer because the paint will dry slowly in moist conditions.

Lacquer paint contains a high volume of alcohol-based solvents that dry very quickly so each lacquer coat will dry in minutes. However, you should leave the coats for at least 30 minutes before applying the next coat.

This is to give the existing lacquer coating enough time to dry and evaporate before a new coat is added. For best results, check the manufacturer’s instructions for how long to wait between coats of the lacquer brand that you have.

If you re-coat lacquer too soon, the solvents in the finish will not evaporate and after a while will stain the transparent finish. Asides from that, recoating lacquer too soon means that the paint will take longer than usual to dry.

How Many Coats of Lacquer Paint For Different Surfaces?

Wood

For wood surfaces, you’ll need at least 4 coats of lacquer paint – this is because wood is a porous material. If there is an existing wood stain or paint on the wood, you can apply 3-4 coats of lacquer.

But, if you are finishing bare wood or unfinished furniture, you’ll need 5 coats of lacquer. If you want to apply the lacquer with a paint sprayer, you should add 2 coats because paint sprayers make the lacquer even thinner than it already is.

You will surely need more coats of lacquer on wood because wood is a porous material and lacquer is thin. When lacquer is applied, the thin flow of the paint will make it soak into the wood quickly and easily. So, you’ll need more coats on the wood for proper coverage and wood protection. If you are using a paint sprayer to apply the lacquer or you are using the lacquer on a busy wood surface, you should add two more coats.

Car

You can apply between 3 and 7 coats of lacquer on a car. On average, 5 coats of lacquer paint is ideal for cars and you can apply the lacquer on an existing car paint without stripping the paint first.

You should know that you are to only use a paint sprayer to apply lacquer paint on a car – never use a paintbrush. You should also know that lacquer paint offers inferior weather and UV resistance so if you use the finish on your car, it won’t last long.

Cabinets

For stained or painted cabinets, you can apply 3 coats of lacquer as a final coat. For unfinished or bare cabinets, you’ll need 4 coats of lacquer paint. If you are working on a kitchen or bathroom cabinet, you’ll need 4 coats of lacquer paint for proper protection against steam, soap residue, cooking oils, and moisture.

Tabletop

For tabletops and desks, you can apply up to 5 coats of lacquer paint. You should allow each coat to dry fully before applying the next coat.

This is very important because tabletops are prone to scratch marks, food and drink spills, and dust. If the lacquer coats are not fully dry, the finish will be easily damaged and it won’t offer any protection to the table.

Plastic

For plastic surfaces, you need 3 coats of lacquer but you’ll have to sand the plastic and each coat while applying the lacquer. This is because plastic is a slick and non-porous material and as such, the lacquer paint can’t penetrate or soak into the plastic.

So you need to sand between each coat to scuff the plastic so the lacquer can stick. Since the lacquer paint can’t penetrate the plastic material, you need fewer coats to avoid the lacquer from turning sticky or tacky.

Metal

On metal, you need at least 6 coats of lacquer paint because the lacquer paint will be sprayed on the metal. Since the lacquer finish will be sprayed on the metal, you need more coats of it for proper coverage and protection. 6 coats are usually the recommended number of lacquer coats for metal.

However, you should know that lacquer doesn’t provide rust protection and is not ideal for metal surfaces that have rust damage.

Guitar

For a guitar, you can apply 3 coats of lacquer paint. You don’t need many coats of lacquer on a guitar since it’s not a high-traffic object. So 3 coats of lacquer are enough. Ensure to sand the guitar lightly before applying the lacquer.

Wood Floors

For wood floors, you need 5 coats of brushed-on lacquer or 7 coats of sprayed-on lacquer. This is because wood floors are high-traffic areas and as such, you need enough protection on the wood floor so the wood material doesn’t get damaged. You should allow the lacquer finish to cure on the wood floor for at least 24 hours before normal use is resumed.

Final Words

In summary, the number of lacquer coats to apply depends on the type of surface you are painting and the lacquer brand that you are using. For finished surfaces, you should apply 3 or 4 coats of lacquer since there is an existing finish on the surface.

For bare surfaces, you should apply 5 coats of lacquer for proper coverage and protection. If you are using a paint sprayer to apply the lacquer, you should add two more coats. The best way to know for sure how many coats of lacquer are needed, you should ask the manufacturer.

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