Return to the Old House Forum | Post a Follow-Up

Lacquer over old wood trim?

Posted by gmanley (My Page) on
Mon, Sep 19, 05 at 18:58

Hi All,

The woodwork in my 1925 home is lacquered. But it many (most)areas it looks crackled and worn. Can I simply apply new lacquer over the existing and have it melt together into a fresh coat? I've heard that this is possible but am unsure if there are differences between circa 1925 lacquer and the can of minwax in my basement. Thoughts?


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Lacquer over old wood trim?

Are you sure it is laquer? It could be shelac. Shelac is easy to test for. Alcohol will disolve it. Alcohol will not touch laquer.

RE: Lacquer over old wood trim?

All the trim in our house is shellac, and some is crackled, too. I've been using denatured alcohol and fine steel wool to remove it. Sometimes it takes a bit of elbow grease, but it's worth it. I think if you just put something on top of it you won't get the effect you want. And if you ever decide to paint, don't paint right on top of the shellac. Eventually you'll see that cracking in the paint, too.

RE: Lacquer over old wood trim?

Test with denatured alcohol to see if the finish is shellac or lacquer.
Test with lacquer thinner to make sure the finish is lacquer and not any type of varnish.
Lacquer is the same product, made by dissolving nitrocellulose in solvents. I have not seen lacquer made by minwax. Most of their products are polyurethane.
If the finish is lacquer it must be cleaned of any surface grime before another coat is applied or the grime will be embedded into the finish.
Deft clear wood finish is a nitrocellulose lacquer product that is relatively easy to apply with a brush. The gloss is harder and can be rubbed with steel wool (#0000) to any desired semi-gloss level.

RE: Lacquer over old wood trim?

Hmmm, I thought I was dealing with lacquer but after rubbing a section with denatured alcohol I see that it wore away the finish.

So if I am dealing with Shellac, what is the best way to restore it? Do I need to remove all of the existing finish before refinishing or is there a way to restore the shellac finish?

thanks again.

RE: Lacquer over old wood trim?

Shellac can be restored by gently cleaning with a damp rag 9water will soften and destroy shellac). Wipe with paint thinner to remove any remaining grease and grime, than paint with denature alcohol. The old shellac will dissolve and smooth out. If the shellac is worn to thin you can apply another layer.
Shellac flakes are available from Master, and are dissolved in either denatured alcohol or Behkol. Constantines has both.
Shellac takes some practice to apply since it dries nearly instantly. A badger hair brush works very well.

Here is a link that might be useful: shellac flakes

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Old House Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here