Can You Epoxy Over Lacquer (4 Reasons plus 3 Steps)

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As interest in woodworking continues to rise, more homeowners are looking for easy ways to transform ordinary pieces of furniture into striking statement pieces.

A growing trend among DIY and furniture flipping enthusiasts is applying durable epoxy coatings over traditional lacquer finishes.

can you epoxy over lacquer
can you epoxy over lacquer

Epoxy resin has gained immense popularity in recent years due its ability to create unique high-gloss surfaces with a crystal-clear finish.

Where lacquer allows for only a satin-like sheen, epoxy takes any project to a whole new visual level, reflecting light in vibrant ways.

Its popularity on social media sites like Pinterest and YouTube has sparked curiosity about employing this versatile material in new applications.

One such application is coating over existing lacquered woodwork. Lacquer has long been the go-to choice for protecting wood from moisture, scrapes and UV damage. However, its satiny appearance leaves something to be desired aesthetically.

Epoxy enters the picture by transforming drab pieces into eye-catching statement furnishings through its glass-like shine.

While the idea seems simple enough, proper surface preparation and application technique is crucial for success. Many DIYers and craftspeople have reported unsatisfactory results or damage to the underlying lacquer when attempting this without guidance.

To avoid wasted time, money and materials, thorough research must be done.

With step-by-step guidance and an examination of both process and potential pitfalls, this article provides a comprehensive overview of best practices for applying epoxy over lacquer finishes.

Readers will gain the critical knowledge needed to take on this trending technique with confidence and achieve beautiful, durable results.

3 Steps to Epoxy Over Lacquer

Preparing the Surface: A Must for a Perfect Finish

Proper surface preparation is vital for achieving an even, long-lasting bond between the epoxy and underlying lacquer.

Regardless of how freshly the lacquer was applied, some level of sanding and stripping is always required.

For surfaces lacquered within the past few weeks, start with 150-grit sandpaper to degloss the area and create scratches for the epoxy to adhere to. Remove any dirt or debris with a tack cloth.

On older lacquer, you may need to progress to finer grits like 220 or even use a chemical stripper to fully remove imperfections from years of wear and tear.

It’s also important to seal the edges. Apply painter’s tape at least 1/2 inch out from the surface to create a contained area.

Plastic sheeting beneath will catch stray droplets and keep your work area clean. Allow at least 8 hours for the surface to fully de-gas before continuing to the next step.

Mixing Epoxy Like the Professionals Do

Proper mixing is essential for releasing epoxy’s full strength and durability potential. Read and follow the manufacturer’s exact ratio instructions for the hardener amount.

Use a low-speed drill mixer to combine for at least 5 full minutes until an even, creamy texture forms without any marbling.

Pay close attention to environmental factors too. Mix only in a dust-free space with adequate ventilation between 15-25 degrees Celsius.

Wearing nitrile gloves prevents inhibitors from being absorbed into your skin. Measure accurately to avoid issues from an off-ratio batch. Stirring vigorously is worth taking the time to do right.

Laying Down that Flawless Coat

Once mixed, apply the epoxy using a high-quality foam brush, roller, or squeegee within the product’s working time window quoted on the label.

Work the resin into all edges in a crossed brushing motion, then use a heat gun on low to pop any air bubbles that may form.

Allow a minimum of 6 hours between additional coats for proper curing, but 12-24 hours total cure time is safest before use.

Multiple thin coats are better than one thick one. For strong adhesion and a pristine finish, following these preparation and application steps is key.

4 Compelling Reasons to Take Your Projects to the Next Level

Achieve a Showroom Shine

Where lacquer leaves surfaces with a dull, satin-like sheen, epoxy takes woodworking to a new level of lustrous beauty.

Its high-gloss glass finish makes furniture positively glow and gleam under lights. No longer will your creations fade into the background – epoxy ensures they become statement pieces that demand attention.

Whether you’re sprucing up old cabinets or crafting a new dining table, the mirror-like effect of an epoxy topcoat significantly elevates any wood item from ordinary to extraordinary. Let your projects shine as the stars of the room.

Fortify Against Daily Wear and Tear

Lacquer alone may not stand up to decades of use and frequent handling. Epoxy acts as a protective barrier, sealing out moisture that causes wood to expand and contract.

Its non-porous finish prevents hairline scratches, scuffs and abrasions that lacquer is susceptible to over time.

Say goodbye to worries about damage from water rings or knife marks marring your once lovely creations. Epoxy safeguards your investment so it maintains that just-finished lustre for many years of enjoyment.

Create Water-Resistant Furnishings

Make kitchen islands, bathroom vanities, outdoor seating and more by rendering wood completely impervious to water with an epoxy coating. No longer will spills or weathering pose a threat.

While lacquer offers some resistance, epoxy is fully waterproof – allowing items to withstand splashes, condensation or rain without damage or long-term effects like rot and swelling. Peace of mind comes from knowing your projects can hold up to practically anything.

Optimize Longevity of Your Work

With proper care, furniture and wooden decor enhanced by epoxy can quite literally last a lifetime. Even after many years of the harshest usage and exposure, pieces sealed with epoxy maintain their integrity.

Reaping the rewards of your creativity and craftsmanship doesn’t have to end after a few years like with conventional topcoats. Epoxy enables wooden projects to withstand the test of time as a lasting family heirloom or treasured memory.

FAQs: Getting Your Epoxy Questions Answered

Clear vs Lacquer Coatings

One common question is regarding the difference between a clear finish and lacquer topcoat. While both protect wood from damage, the main distinction is how they cure.

Lacquer relies on solvent evaporation to dry, leaving the surface not fully hardened.

Clear coats such as polyurethane undergo a chemical reaction process called cross-linking which results in an impervious sheen. The hardened film prevents future deterioration better than lacquer alone.

Does Epoxy Bond with All Materials?

Epoxy is quite versatile but not compatible with every surface. It forms the strongest adhesion to porous materials like wood where the resin can soak in and harden.

However, non-porous or slicked surfaces present incompatibility issues. Materials to avoid applying epoxy directly to include plastics, silicone, wax paper and polyethylene.

Some trial and error may be needed to determine bonding effectiveness on unusual mediums. Always test in inconspicuous spots first.

Sources of ‘Fish Eyes’

Amateur epoxy layers often encounter small bumps resembling fish scales called ‘fish eyes’ marring their finish.

These uncommon defects occur when the resin fails to properly wet out the substrate. Leading possible causes include contamination from oils, silicones or manufacturing residues which disrupt bonding. Ensure surfaces are scrupulously cleaned before applying.

Following proper epoxy and environmental variables minimizes likelihood of the unwelcome phenomenon.

With any new skill comes questions, and this section anticipates common curiosity points for those exploring the joy and learning experience of epoxy resins at a beginner level. Thorough answers give readers increased confidence to take on new DIY challenges.


With a little know-how and adherence to best practices, hobbyists and woodworkers of any skill level can realize their visions by taking ordinary lacquered pieces to mesmerizing new heights with an epoxy topcoat.

Though the process requires diligence, the results are well worth the effort to see treasured projects shine for years to come.

By carefully preparing the existing lacquer surface through sanding and detaping, meticulously following resin-to-hardener ratio instructions, and maintaining proper application methods, consumers can feel confident their epoxy finish will bond securely.

Multiple thin coats, with sufficient drying time in between, are key to ensuring a smooth, flawless surface that captivates onlookers.

Whether seeking to preserve heirloom furniture or craft bold statement décor, epoxy enables truly showstopping transformations.

Its durable, scratch-resistant properties allow owners to appreciate creations through decades of enjoyment rather than have to replace them prematurely. While an investment of time, the protection epoxy provides justifies any extra steps taken.

With the right information and process in place, applying epoxy over lacquer presents an opportunity for anyone to bring new life and permanent beauty to existing wooden pieces.

Those who take the time to fully prepare and strictly follow best practices can bypass disappointment and achieve results exceeding even their highest expectations. Owners will love their livened furnishings and decor for many years to come.