Can Lacquer Thinner Remove Paint? (How-To)

So, that paint stain is still not coming off. Can lacquer thinner remove it? Here is the answer to that.

Lacquer thinner is a paint-removing solvent gotten from mineral oils. The solvent can remove paint stains and coatings from different surfaces including wood and concrete.

The solvent is used to remove both fresh and dried paint. Lacquer thinner is also potent enough to dissolve and remove paint from paint equipment.

In addition. The solvent is safe to use on sensitive materials like clothes and natural fabrics. This excludes wool and silk.

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.

Will Lacquer Thinner Remove Dried Paint?

Lacquer thinner will remove dried paint from any surface. Lacquer thinner is specifically designed to dissolve and remove cured paints including oil-based paints.

The reason for the increased potency of lacquer thinner is its chemical and oil-based nature. Unlike many other solvents that are just alcohol-based, lacquer thinners are designed with a combination of ethanol, acetone, and other chemical-based solvents.

This makes the lacquer thinner strong enough to remove paint even after it has cured or dried. Lacquer paint thinners are used to thin lacquers which is one of the strongest finishes in the world.

Lacquers when dry forms a thick film that mirrors the features of Polyurethane plastic. The film is usually thick, strong, and resistant to moisture and scratches.

Now lacquer thinners are designed to thin lacquers. This gives you an idea of how strong and potent lacquer thinner is. Lacquer thinner is as strong as turpentine and turpentine will remove virtually any type of paint either dried or not.

Dried paint when exposed to lacquer thinner will dissolve, sometimes wrinkle, and then peel off the surface.

The potency of lacquer thinner however is two-faced. It helps to remove dried paint but if used carelessly, its potency will damage several surfaces including wood and metal.

So how do you use lacquer thinner to remove paint? Let’s find out.

Related Read: Does White Spirit Remove Paint?

How To Use Lacquer Thinner To Remove Paint?

Removing paint with lacquer thinner isn’t difficult. But it’s a task that requires caution. This is because of the strong chemical formula of lacquer thinners. If used carelessly, it can cause damages.

To remove paint with lacquer thinner, you need the following tools:

  • 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

Here is a quick rundown on how to remove paint using lacquer thinner:

  1. Prepare The Workspace
  2. Scrape The Paint Off
  3. Apply The Lacquer Thinner
  4. Wipe Off The Paint
  5. Apply More Lacquer Thinner (Optional)
  6. Wash The Affected Spot With Dish Soap
  7. Rinse and Leave To Dry

Now, let’s get to work.

1. Prepare The Workspace

Prepare The Workspace

The first step in any painting task either paint application or removal is to prepare the workspace. Paint removal can get messy especially while using a solvent like lacquer thinner.

So you need to prepare your workspace to handle the mess unless you want to spend the next few hours cleaning the workspace after removing the paint.

If you plan on removing paint from a vertical surface like a wall, ensure to put a drop sheet on the floor around the wall. This prevents the paint particles after being removed from dropping on and staining the floor.

Also, all objects and furniture on or around the affected spot should be removed or covered.

As a part of prepping your workspace, ensure to put on your face mask and pair of gloves. Lacquer thinner as stated earlier is a strong chemical-based solvent. You don’t want it in your lungs, eyes, or on your skin.

When you have done all of these, you can continue with the task.

2. Scrape The Paint Off

Scrape The Paint Off

The first step in removing the paint is to scrape it off of the surface. This works especially for dried paint.

When you scrape, you remove the top layers of the paint. This reduces the paint volume on the surface so the lacquer thinner when applied can work better.

For scraping the paint off, you can use a metallic putty knife or a trowel. However, don’t use such tools on delicate surfaces like wood or fabric.

For wood, plastic, fabric, plastered walls, and POP (plaster of Paris), use a plastic putty knife to scrape the paint off.

Using sharp metal on these surfaces can ruin them. But you can use metal paint scrapers on surfaces like concrete.

To scrape the paint, position the tip of the paint scraper at a 30 or 45-degree angle. Ensure the tip of the scraper is at the base of the paint. Then gently, push the paint scrapper underneath the paint and lift. You’ll need a bit of force.

You wouldn’t be able to scrape off all the paint. Trying to do that will dent the surface with the scraper. You just need to remove as much as you can without damaging the surface.

For stubborn paint that can’t be scraped, leave it. The lacquer thinner will still work on it.

The next step is to wipe the affected spot. After scraping, you are sure to have dust and paint particles on the surface. You need to wipe the surface to get rid of them.

This helps to remove any debris or dirt that can hinder the lacquer thinner from working properly. To wipe the affected spot, use a clean rag to wipe the surface till it is clean.

3. Apply The Lacquer Thinner

Apply The Lacquer Thinner

Lacquer thinners can be poured directly on the paint but this works for non-porous surfaces like glass and concrete.

This is because surfaces like glass and concrete are impermeable. This means the lacquer thinner can’t penetrate the surface to settle in the material. So for such surfaces, you can pour the lacquer thinner on the paint directly.

However, you can’t pour lacquer thinner directly on sensitive and porous surfaces like wood and fabric. This is because these materials are porous and the lacquer thinner can penetrate and settle in the material.

This will cause discoloration and damage the material.

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

To remove paint from lacquer, varnish, or sealed wood, use a gentler solvent.

After applying the lacquer thinner, leave it on the paint for about 10 minutes.

4. Wipe Off The Paint

Wipe Off The Paint

After 10 minutes, you’ll notice changes in the paint structure. The paint might have discolored, dissolved, or even wrinkled. Any of these changes indicated that the lacquer thinner has done its magic.

This means it’s time to wipe the paint off. Use a rag to remove the paint and lacquer thinner from the surface.

For stubborn paint stains that don’t come off completely, use a soft brush to lightly scrub the surface and the paint will come off.

If the paint doesn’t come off, you should…

5. Apply More Lacquer Thinner (Optional)

If the paint doesn’t come off completely, apply the lacquer thinner again on the surface and leave to settle. Then wipe the paint off again.

Tip: The more lacquer thinner you use, the less time it has to remain on the surface.

Though non-porous surfaces like concrete and glass can’t be damaged by lacquer thinners. The solvent is still strong enough to cause staining on such surfaces if it is left on the surface for too long.

So if you left the lacquer thinner on the surface for 10 minutes the first time, the second application should sit for less than that.

6. Wash The Affected Spot With Dish Soap

Wash The Affected Spot With Dish Soap

When the paint is finally off, you should wash the affected spot.

The reason for washing is to get rid of the lacquer thinner on the surface. As explained earlier, lacquer thinners shouldn’t be left on a surface for too long.

So after removing the paint, wash the affected spot with warm soapy water to remove any leftover lacquer thinner.

To do this, mix dish soap in a bowl of warm water. Then use the warm soapy water and a soft sponge to scrub the affected spot.

For wooden surfaces, don’t use a brush or sponge on the surface. It’s better to just clean with warm soapy water and a rag. Dip the rag into the bowl. Then squeeze it to get rid of excess water and you can use the damp rag to wipe the wood.

7. Rinse and Leave To Dry

Rinse and Leave To Dry

After washing, rinse the spot. Be careful not to use too much water on wood and other moisture-prone surfaces.

After rinsing, leave the surface to dry.

Tip: For wooden surfaces, you can 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.

When you have done all these, you have successfully removed paint using lacquer thinner.

Does Lacquer Thinner Remove Stains?

Lacquer thinner is an effective cleaning agent that removes all types of stains. The thinner works in removing household stains as well as wood stains.

Wood stains? Yes. In the painting world, stains refer to varnish, lacquer, enamel, wax, and other finishes used to finish wooden surfaces. So to remove any of these stains, lacquer thinner will work fine.

Lacquer thinner will also work in your homes to get rid of grease, dirt, and grime. Lacquer thinner is a good solvent to have handy but it also requires caution to use.

Though lacquer thinner will remove stains, the thinner might produce a harsh reaction when used on oil-based stains. This is due to the chemical nature of both the oil stain and the lacquer thinner. However, in all sincerity, this is highly unlikely.

Paint-producing companies develop lacquer thinners to be used on oil paints. So, the chances of producing fumes when the solvent comes in contact with oil stain are unlikely.

To remove stains using lacquer thinner, apply the lacquer thinner directly on the stain. Then leave it for a few minutes and wipe the stain off.

Wooden stains like varnish will require a sanding pad to scrub off the finish after applying lacquer thinner on it.

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

Related Read: How To Use Goo Gone To Remove Paint?

Will Lacquer Thinner Remove Paint From Wood?

Lacquer thinner will remove paint from wood. The thinner will dissolve the paint on the wood making it lose its bond to the wooden surface in seconds.

But the thinner should be used carefully on wood to prevent long-lasting damages.

Lacquer thinner is strong enough to remove even cured oil paints of wood. But, if used carelessly, the lacquer thinner can penetrate, cause staining, and damage the wood.

To remove paint from wood using lacquer thinner, you should douse a rag with the lacquer thinner. Then use the damp rag to dab the wooden surface repeatedly.

You can also use a paintbrush to spread light coats of the lacquer thinner on the wood. After a few seconds, use a plastic paint scraper or sanding pad to brush off the paint from the wood.

If poured on the wood, the lacquer thinner will sift through the wooden fibers to settle in the wood.

Tip: After using lacquer thinner on wood, ensure to clean the wood with warm soapy water to get rid of leftover lacquer thinner that can damage the wood.

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

Will Lacquer Thinner Remove Paint From Metal?

Lacquer thinner will remove paint from metal. Latex, oil-based, and metallic paints can all be removed from metal using lacquer thinner. However, the solvent should not be used on bare metal.

This is because the lacquer thinner increases the chances of rust when used on bare metal. Lacquer thinner might also produce fumes when used on bare metal especially bare metal with rust.

To remove paint from metal using lacquer thinner, use the same technique as stated above for wooden surfaces. You can apply the lacquer thinner using a paintbrush or rag.

After applying it to the metal, wipe it off within a minute. The paint wouldn’t even last that long especially latex paints.

Tip: Never pour lacquer thinner in large quantities on bare metal. It can cause corrosion and staining on the metal.

Though lacquer thinner can be used to remove paint from metal, it’s safer to use gentler solvents to prevent damages.

The best bet for removing paint from metal is paint removers designed for use on metal.

Will Lacquer Thinner Remove Paint From Concrete?

Lacquer thinner will remove paint from concrete including dried and fresh paints. The solvent is also safe to use on concrete because it can’t etch the concrete or penetrate the material.

Lacquer thinner when used on concrete will dissolve the paint within seconds making the paint particles wrinkle and easier to brush off the surface.

To remove paint from concrete using lacquer thinner, apply the lacquer thinner directly on the paint. Then leave it for a few minutes.

You’ll notice the paint starting to wrinkle and tear. Then use a scrubbing brush to scrub the paint off the concrete material.

Tip: Always wash the affected concrete spot with warm soapy water after using lacquer thinner on it.

Though lacquer thinner will not damage non-porous surfaces, leaving it on the concrete material can permanently stain it.

Final Words

Overall, lacquer thinner is an effective paint-removing solvent. The chemical-based nature of the solvent makes it capable of removing tough paints like varnish and oil paints.

However, remember the solvent is chemical-based. This means it should be used with caution and never on sensitive materials.

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