How to Remove Paint from Lacquered Wood

What You'll Need
Lacquer Thinner
Paint Scraper or Putty Knife
Paint Brush
Rubber Gloves
Plastic Tarp
Steel Wool
Water or Mineral Spirits heart

Removing the paint from lacquered wood can reveal a beautiful wooden surface that looks good even without the paint. However, removing paint from lacquered wood is not as simple as removing paint from concrete surfaces or untreated wood. If the procedure is not done properly or with care, you will risk damaging the wood underneath the paint. Using a heat gun or a sander is also not recommended when removing paint from lacquered wood. The best way is to use lacquer thinner or a chemical stripper designed for wood applications. Here’s how.

Step 1- Preparation

Cover the floor or the surface under the lacquered wood with plastic tarp or any other protective covering that will protect the surface from the properties of the lacquer thinner. This is just a precaution, as a little bit of excess lacquer thinner that drips down to the surface beneath should not cause any damage to the surface.

Before working on the paint-stripping project, make sure to provide the working area with fresh air. Open the windows and doors to ventilate the room. Lacquer thinner produces fumes that can be lethal when inhaled in excessive amounts. Wear protective glasses and gloves as well to protect the body from any chemical contact.

Step 2 – Apply Lacquer Thinner

To allow the paint to be easily removed from the lacquered wood, apply a thick coating of lacquer thinner on the paint using a disposable paintbrush. Apply the coating in a uniform direction. Refer to the manufacturer’s info for the working time. Sometimes, it will only take minutes for the thinner to work on the paint. Thicker paints may require a longer working time. The paint will wrinkle as the lacquer works its wonders. This is a sign that the paint is being softened effectively.

Step 3 – Scrape the Paint

If the paint shows signs of loosening, make use of a putty knife to scrape it off the surface. The lacquer thinner may also soften the lacquered wood underneath the paint, so make sure not to gouge the wood underneath when scraping. If some of the paint still remains on the wood, reapply lacquer thinner and scrape them off again after the recommended working time.

Step 4 – Clean the Wooden Surface

After removing the paint, clean the wooden surface to remove any residue from the lacquer thinner. Usually, manufacturers recommend a neutralizing agent after the application of the stripper. Typically, water is used for water-based chemical strippers. For oil-based chemical strippers, manufacturers recommend using mineral spirits.

Use a steel wool along with the neutralizing solvent to clean the surface of the lacquered wood. Apply the solvent on the surface of the wood in a uniform direction, following the grain of the wood. Repeat this method until all residues from the paint and the chemical stripper is removed. Allow the wood to dry.