remove 1 layer of paint off lacquer

qbrown5November 28, 2012

I have an upright apt. sized piano- 1925 era, not an antique but 'family heirloom'. When my grandfather bought it during WWII it was Chinese Lacquer Red with a small picture painted on the front. You can almost see the picture still, thru the layer of flat black paint that my grandmother made him put over it so that the red wouldn't 'clash' with her house. The piano means alot to me, and it has great sound, perfect size, I don't want to mess it up. But I LOVE oriental furnishings. If I could even remove the black from a bit of the face enough to reveal the pagoda and tree, I would be thrilled. The idea of a bright red (and probably gold) picture peaking out from all that black is a pleasant tease :-). Maybe someday I would have the time to strip the whole thing, but I'm not seeing that happen anytime soon....

so can anyone point me in the direction of a method to remove paint off of lacquer without destroying the under coat? I would be open to chemical or mechanical options, and I can try it out on the back side...

thanks in advance!!!


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Liquid DW soap, water, and gentle scrubbing may be all that is needed if the paint is latex based.

Oil based (alkyd) paint would be a lot harder to remove without damaging the lacquer underneath.

Avoid leaving the surface wet for very long though.
The lacquer can 'blush' and soften from prolonged water contact.
Rubbing alcohol often strips latex paint quickly, but you would need to test and make sure the old lacquer stands up to it (it should, lacquer uses harsher solvents than alcohol).

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 3:57PM
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thanks!!! I don't think it's latex- it was painted in the 1940's and I thought that latex was a more modern invention. But I can give both your methods a try!!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 8:17AM
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Test in a very tiny area first.

And keep notes and take pictures so you know exactly what you did that worked.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 11:09AM
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"it was painted in the 1940's"

Very likely alkyd.

Nearly impossible to remove without damaging the lacquer underneath.

Cured 'oil' paint is not really soluble in anything, there are just chemicals that can break it down.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 4:23PM
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