Tinted Lacquers or Sealers for Quick Antiquing

Advice on simple techniques using tinted sanding sealers or lacquers for sand-through antique-look finishing. July 29, 2007

I am a little bit new to finishing, and most of my experience is with simple stain/clear coat finishes.

I am trying to create a simple finish schedule to replicate your typical worn through antiqued painted finish without all the steps traditionally recommended.

Can sanding sealer be tinted just like lacquer can? My thought is the sanding sealer would be much easier to sand through than a paint or tinted lacquer. Also, can I used a tinted lacquer instead of a paint?

With most schedules I've seen, you would first apply your undertone color, which in my case would be a stain. Then a sealer over the stain. Paint over the sealer. Sand/distress to desired effect. Then final coat(s) of lacquer.

I'm trying to save a start or two while still getting a finish that will be durable. Most of our furniture retails for less than $299, so that of course limits the amount of steps and time.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor M:
I read a few posts last year sometime that said to use pigmented lacquer. The source was a Sherwin-Williams product - I don't know what line or model. I went to my local paint store asking for the product. The three salesmen knew nothing about it and told me to go to the Sherwin-Williams commercial store. I got to the store and those salesmen also knew nothing about it and talked me into primer and paint. Is there a product called pigmented lacquer? And if there is, where can I buy it? I did notice a Sherwin-Williams automotive finishes store.

From contributor J:
To the original questioner: I use a pre-cat vinyl base coat from Valspar, tinted to a dark color for my first coat. Sand as you would a primer surfacer. Then shoot a second coat of the vinyl base coat tinted to the secondary, lighter color. Then sand through the second color into the first. When you have the look you're after, blow off the dust and top coat with a clear. The nice thing about the vinyl base coat is you can put just about anything over it as a top coat.

From contributor W:
SW makes a pigmented pre-cat lacquer. They also make pigmented conversion varnish and cab. I like the CV the best. You need to find a SW Chemical Coatings store. The commercial guys should know about this product. I buy it all the time at my local SW paint store for that matter. When I want a custom color, I have to get it from the CC store, though. It takes a different type pigment than paint.

From contributor R:
A pigmented lacquer is just a lacquer (either clear or colored) that has a pigment added into it. For example, to get a grey colored lacquer, you start with a white lacquer and add a little black to it.

From contributor S:
Anything can be tinted with the right type of colorant. For lacquers, we use 844 and that includes pre-cats, CVs, and nitros. The darker colors are achieved using clears. We have a separate dump tank to take out excess product. Don't tell the company that.

From contributor U:
Use a tinted lacquer for your first coat. If you want black, have your supplier add 6 drops of black colorant per gallon. Sand through the corners with 280 grit and sand the rest with 400 grit. Next apply your wash stain (dilute with 50% paint thinner so it doesn't flash off too fast), let dry and topcoat. We have used this system almost every day for years and I have never found an easier or faster way of doing it and it works with any color and stain color you want.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the responses. I always wondered if it would be so much easier to do your primary color coat first, then color your rubbed or sanded through areas. I'm going to give it a try this weekend!

From contributor L:
You can make lacquer any color you wish, and there are pigmented lacquers. SW makes them, we [Gemini Coatings] make them, and I am sure everyone else in the business makes them. You can take any clear lacquer and add 844's or 824's (I prefer 844's) and get to some pretty dark colors. White lacquers, just like latex paint, can only be tinted so far (pastel colors, off white, etc.). I'd go back to the SW commercial branch and have them match your color in the sealer, and you might talk to the branch manager, he (or she) usually knows what is what.