Painting over Lacquer

Tips on surface preparation and priming when applying paint to a lacquered surface. March 8, 2007

I need to use latex semigloss over a previously lacquered surface. I'd like to sand as little as possible. Is there anything that could bridge them? Shellac maybe?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor W:
I still think you need to scuff sand first. I would use a shellac based primer such as Binn's. I assume this is a pigmented semigloss latex? This primer is a white primer.

From contributor R:
If you plan on cleaning whatever you plan on finishing with the latex, and your concerned with the sanding dust, why not use a Purple Scotch Brite Pad dipped into a mixture of water and TSP? You can kill two birds doing this. First off you get a real clean surface, which latex likes; and by using the Scotch Brite, you get a slightly etched surface that’s suitable for the latex coating.

From contributor T:
How about a 50/50? Washing it down well with TSP will usually etch the existing finish by itself - an essential step and Scotch Brite won't hurt anything. Then prime with BIN and finish with your latex. Just be aware that the latex can take up to a month to cure so don't expect to do an adhesion test a day after you finish it.

An alternative would be to finish with a pigmented lacquer in the color of the latex. Several companies offer custom color matching of lacquer. You tell them the paint brand and color you want - they send you color matched lacquer.

From contributor C:
Sand it well and prime twice, sanding between coats of primer with 1-2 day dry time in between. Otherwise, you run the risk of the latex bubbling and peeling. There's no easy way if you want to do it only once.

From contributor W:
You have to make sure that whatever kind of paint you use is lacquer-based or you will have a chemical reaction between the paint and the finish that you are painting over. 95% of the time the end result is money out of your pocket. You can use the finish coat you are painting over as your primer coat – I think it comes out a little smoother.