How to Lacquer Metal

The surface of metals can be effectively protected with a clear lacquer finish if applied correctly.  Adherence to the application procedure listed below will ensure a successful result.

Safety Precautions

Any time you are working with chemicals, it is essential to take the necessary safety precautions to ensure a hazard free working environment.  This should include:

1.      Adequate Ventilation

2.      Eye Protection

3.      Appropriate Attire

Working Environment

Your work area should be well organized, clutter free and a clean as possible.  Contamination of a freshly sprayed surface is otherwise difficult to avoid. Lacquer sets quickly however it is essential to reduce exposure to dust during the curing period.

If you have to set the item on a surface to spray it you must make absolutely sure the surface is dust free all around. The air pressure from the spray will stir up any dust and spread it evenly on your otherwise perfect finish.


Adequate lighting is crucial to a good spray finish. The quality of your project will suffer as a result of insufficient or uneven illumination.

Atmospheric Conditions

Surrounding temperature and that of the item to be lacquered should be approximately 65 degrees.  Although there is some leeway, temperatures below 50 or above 90 can cause problems. Moderate temperatures during the finishing and curing process are essential to a successful outcome.

Surface Preparation

Remove any residue remaining from previous finishes using the appropriate products and methods for the finish to be removed.  Clean the piece to be lacquered; acetone is ideal as an ideal general purpose cleaner and degreaser.  

Lacquer Application

Applying spray lacquer is an uncomplicated process that is easily mastered by fallowing several simple guidelines.  The objective is an evenly distributed finish over the area to be lacquered. 

The spray-can should be held approximately 8 inches from the surface of the object to be finished.   If the spray can is held too close, the resulting lacquer finish will sag or run. If the spray can is held too far, not enough lacquer will reach the surface and the desire coverage will not be achieved.

Several 1 to 2 second passes will be required to coat an object evenly.   The initial should progress from one side of the object and progress to the terminus, at which point the spray-head should be released.  Subsequent passes should overlap the preceding. Releasing the spray-head after each pass reduces lacquer build-up.


Allow the item to dry in peace, any movement in the work area can cause dust to rise and settle in the wet finish.   Small imperfection during the curing process should be ignored; when the lacquer has dried they will be less obvious and any attempt to repair the problem will most likely result larger issues.

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