Does Lacquer Thinner Remove Paint? (Here’s How)

If you have a dried paint coating that you want to remove, you must use a strong solvent. So, can lacquer thinner remove paint?

Lacquer thinner can remove paint from different surfaces. That’s because lacquer thinner is a paint-removing solvent gotten from mineral oils. The solvent is strong enough to remove most points, including dried paints. 

Also, you can use lacquer thinner to remove paint from paint equipment and sensitive materials such as clothes and natural fabrics. However, you can’t use lacquer thinner for wool and silk materials. 

But that’s not all. There is more to know about using lacquer thinner to remove paint, and this post digs right into the topic. So let’s dive in.

Lacquer Thinner Removes Dried Paint

Lacquer thinner can remove dried paint from any surface. The lacquer thinner is designed to dissolve and remove cured paint, including cured oil-based paints. 

Unlike other paint-removing solvents that are just alcohol-based, lacquer thinners are formulated with a combination of ethanol, acetone, and other chemical-based solvents. This makes lacquer thinner strong enough to remove dried (cured) paints. 

Lacquer thinners are also used to thin lacquer paints, one of the world’s strongest finishes. When dry, lacquer forms a thick film that has the same features as polyurethane. The film is thick, strong, and resistant to moisture and scratches. So, if lacquer thinner is strong enough to thin lacquer paint, then it’s strong enough to remove paint. 

To remove dried paint, lacquer thinner penetrates the paint coating and softens the paint. Once the paint is soft, you can wipe it off using a rag. 

However, lacquer thinner is so powerful that it can damage different surfaces, including wood and metal. So, you shouldn’t use a large amount of lacquer thinner over these surfaces. 

How To Remove Paint Using Lacquer Thinner?

Removing paint with lacquer thinner isn’t difficult, but you must prep and use the right tools. Here are the tools that you need:

  • A Face Mask
  • A Pair of Work Gloves
  • Lacquer Paint Thinner
  • Clean Rags
  • Paint Scraper or Putty Knife
  • A Soft Scrubbing Brush or Sponge
  • Warm Water
  • Dish Soap
  • Drop Sheet
  • Linseed Oil

1. Prepare The Workspace

Prepare The Workspace

First, prep the workspace. Paint removal can get messy, especially if you use a solvent such as lacquer thinner. So, you must prep the workspace to prevent any big mess. You must remove all objects and furniture around the paint coating. 

If you are removing paint from a vertical surface, put a drop sheet on the floor around the wall. This prevents the paint particles from dropping on the floor. 

While removing paint with lacquer thinner, put on your face mask and a pair of gloves.

2. Scrape The Paint Off

Scrape The Paint Off

You must scrape as much paint as possible before applying lacquer thinner. This reduces the paint volume on the surface, so the lacquer thinner can work better.

To scrape the paint, use a plastic or metallic paint scraper. Use a plastic paint scrape for wood, plastic, fabric, and other sensitive surfaces. If you use a metallic scraper for these surfaces, you can damage them. To scrape paint from concrete surfaces, use a metallic paint scraper.

Position the tip of the paint scraper under the paint coating, push the scraper into the paint coating and lift it. Do this repeatedly until you remove most of the paint. For stubborn paint that can’t be scraped, leave it. The lacquer thinner will still work on it.

Next, wipe the affected spot. Scraping produces a lot of dust and paint particles. So, you must wipe the surface with a clean rag to get rid of them. The surface must be clean before applying lacquer thinner. 

3. Apply The Lacquer Thinner

Apply The Lacquer Thinner

You can pour lacquer thinner directly over non-porous surfaces, such as glass. Non-porous surfaces are impervious, meaning the lacquer thinner can’t penetrate the surface and won’t damage it. 

For porous surfaces, damp a rag with lacquer thinner and use the dampened rag to wipe the painted surface. If you pour lacquer thinner directly over porous surfaces, the lacquer thinner will penetrate the surface and discolor it. 

After applying lacquer thinner over the paint, wait 10 minutes before removing it. 

Tip: Never use lacquer thinner directly on lacquered, varnished, or sealed wood. The lacquer thinner will damage or remove the varnish.

4. Wipe Off The Paint

Wipe Off The Paint

After applying lacquer thinner, the paint will start to soften and liquefy. This indicates that the lacquer thinner has penetrated the paint coating, softened it, and removed the bond between paint particles. Once this happens, you can wipe the paint off.

To wipe the paint off, use a rag or a soft brush. For stubborn paint stains that won’t come off, use a soft brush to scrub the surface until the paint come off. 

5. Apply More Lacquer Thinner (Optional)

For paint that doesn’t come off completely; apply more lacquer thinner, wait a few minutes, and wipe the paint off. 

The more lacquer thinner you use, the less time it has to remain on the surface. Non-porous surfaces can’t be damaged by lacquer thinner, but lacquer thinner will damage and discolor porous surfaces if left for too long. 

So, if for the first time you left the lacquer thinner on the surface for 10 minutes, for the second time leave it for 5 minutes. 

6. Wash The Affected Spot With Dish Soap

Wash The Affected Spot With Dish Soap

After you remove paint from a surface using lacquer thinner, you must also remove lacquer thinner residue. If you don’t remove the leftover lacquer thinner from a porous surface, the surface will get damaged, and you won’t be able to re-paint it.

To remove lacquer thinner residue:

  1. Mix dish soap in a bowl of warm water.
  2. Pour the warm soapy water over the surface and use a soft sponge to scrub it.
  3. Don’t use a soft brush or sponge for wooden surfaces; instead, use a rag. 
  4. Dip the rag into the mixture (soap and water), then squeeze the rag over the surface. 

7. Rinse and Leave To Dry

Rinse and Leave To Dry

After you remove the lacquer thinner residue, you must rinse the surface with clean water. For porous surfaces, don’t use too much water. After rinsing, leave the surface to dry.

For wooden surfaces, apply a few drops of linseed oil to the surface. The oil will settle in the wood grain to protect it from moisture and scratches.

Lacquer Thinner Removes Wood Stain

You can use lacquer thinner to remove different types of stains, including wood stains. Since lacquer thinner is oil-based, it works well to remove oil-based stains. 

Lacquer thinner will penetrate the stained surface and dissolve the paint particles and solvent. Once that happens, you can wipe the stain off the surface. 

To remove the wood stain with lacquer thinner: 

  1. Apply the lacquer thinner over the stained surface. 
  2. Wait a few minutes (5-10 minutes).
  3. Wipe the stain off.
  4. Clean the lacquer thinner residue. 

For varnished surfaces, use a sanding pad to scrub off the finish after applying the lacquer thinner. 

You can also use lacquer thinner to clean painting equipment like paintbrushes, rollers, paint buckets, and spray guns after using them.

Using Lacquer Thinner On Different Surfaces:

Wood

Lacquer thinner can remove paint from wooden surfaces. However, the lacquer thinner must be used carefully on wood as it can permanently damage it if left for too long.

The lacquer thinner penetrates the paint coating and dissolves the paint particles. You can use lacquer thinner to remove cured oil-based paints from wood. 

To remove paint from wood using a lacquer thinner: 

  1. Douse a rag with lacquer thinner. 
  2. Use the dampened rag to dab the wooden surface repeatedly. 
  3. Wait a few minutes. 
  4. Wipe off the soft paint. 
  5. Remove the lacquer thinner residue. 

You can also use a paintbrush to spread light coats of lacquer thinner over wood. Don’t leave the lacquer thinner on wood for more than 7-10 minutes, as it can damage the surface. 

Alternatives to using lacquer thinner on wood include mineral spirits, acetone, and rubbing alcohol.

Metal

Lacquer thinner can remove paint from metal surfaces. You can use lacquer thinner to remove latex, oil-based, and metallic surfaces from metal.

However, you shouldn’t use lacquer thinner on bare metal. That’s because lacquer thinner can increase the chances of rust if applied over bare metal. 

To remove paint from metal using lacquer thinner:

  1. Apply the lacquer thinner over the metal using a rag or paintbrush.
  2. Wait a few minutes.
  3. Wipe the paint off the metal.
  4. Rinse the metal with clean water to remove leftover lacquer thinner. 

Though lacquer thinner can be used to remove paint from metal, it’s better to use gentler solvents to prevent damage. Paint removers designed for metal surfaces are a better choice. 

Concrete

Lacquer thinner can be used to remove paint from concrete surfaces. However, since concrete is porous, you shouldn’t leave lacquer thinner over the surface for too long. 

After removing dried or wet paints from concrete with lacquer thinner, rinse the concrete with clean water and let it dry. 

Final Words

Lacquer thinner is an effective paint-removing solvent that can remove dried and fresh paints. This solvent can remove any type of paint, including different types of stains. 

However, you shouldn’t leave the solvent over porous surfaces for too long because it can damage them.  After using lacquer thinner, you must rinse the surface with clean water. 

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