Follow by Email

Saturday, December 21, 2013

High Performance Lacquer Spray 101

We LOVE the look of Lacquered finishes...
but they can be tricky

Kenny enjoys using his spray gun with enamel paint,
but me? Not so much

It's the "cleaning" part that gets me...
I am not a strong "cleaner-upper"
which is REALLY bad with a spray gun and oil based paint!

I've tried using Rustoleum's lacquer spray with mediocre results
I'd never attempt it with a large piece...
the nozzle doesn't offer a large enough fan of spray
and there always seems to be TONS of overspray

Up until now, I've stuck with hand painting using high gloss enamel paint

24hrs between coats, and the last dresser
 I did took EIGHT coats of paint

Enter Amy Howard Home's High Performance Lacquer Spray...

I started out small, doing shelves, mirrors, candle sconces, etc

Feeling pretty confident, I tackled a larger mirror

It turned out textbook I felt REALLY brave and decided to tackle a dresser!
Here's the thing...spray paint works great on smaller projects,
 or projects without many large, flat surfaces

Tackling dresser tops, sides, drawer faces...that requires a certain degree of skill
(skill I did NOT think I possessed, by the way!)

Spray paint can be streaky, uneven, and of course, there is the dreaded over-spray
that comes from moving too fast, too slow, being too close, being too far away
spraying too heavy, spraying too see what I mean?

It's a delicate balance!

I had every belief that I would be repainting this dresser when my spray painting
went horribly awry...
but it didn't go awry at all!

OH, happy day!

Thrilled with the results, I tackled a desk
(ok, after I sprayed a gazillion smalls!)

I feel like my technique has gotten better with every project, 
although I do still have some trepidation
with that first pass!

Kenny has given me some GREAT tips that have helped so much...
so I'll share with you what I've learned


1. Choose your subject well- the piece needs to be in GREAT shape, or you need to repair any loose paint, chips, dings, dents, etc...lacquer magnifies every single flaw and unlike a distressed finish, the flaws don't add to the charm!

2. De-grease the surface- I prefer to use Simple Green.  Make sure whatever you use does't leave any residue behind, and ensure that it is COMPLETELY dry before you begin spraying

3. ONLY spray in a well-ventilated area- Lacquer smells like, well, lacquer. Spraying a big piece or many pieces at once? Wear a respirator.

4. Protect the things around you- there will be some over-spray (much less than with other brands we've used). Cover up things you don't want to have to dust off later. 

5. Read the instructions- hold the can 4-6" away from your project (yep, it's right there on the can!)

6. Start spraying OFF your project- begin spraying a bit off the project (into the air, basically), moving onto your piece. Finish spraying OFF your project (again, into the air). This prevents build-up at the start and end areas

7. Move your arm in a straight line...pretend you have a robotic arm.  Don't arc (you're not making a rainbow!) and keep your arm steady

8. Overlap- don't leave unpainted gaps. If you see a gap between your rows, fill it in now, not later. Going back later can lead to a streaky finish 

9. Maintain a steady, moderate speed- too fast and you'll have over-spray (sandy paint), too slow and you'll have drips...just go nice and even. Practice on cardboard first

10. TA-DA..stand back and admire your awesomeness!

A few other things worth noting:

Did I mention to shake your paint?? 

If you get a drip, LEAVE IT ALONE! Don't try to fix it while wet.  You'll just make a mess.  When it's dry, gently sand it out and re-spray that area. The WHOLE area, not just the little drip area.

This seems like a no-brainer, but let each coat dry before applying the next. Think of it like nail polish...if you keep globbing on more polish, it never dries right, chips, and wastes a bunch of polish.  Same thing with lacquer.  

Thinner is better.  Not so thin it's streaky...but going too heavy will lead to drips, streaks, and problems with drying

One last thing...if you have NEVER sprayed before, or have sprayed but haven't had much luck, don't try to tackle a dresser, or desk, or table right away...bang out a few smaller items first to hone your technique.  You'll be glad to have the added experience, plus BONUS, you will have cool accessories lacquered to match! 

Have fun and happy (spray) painting,



  1. brilliant directions michele. thank you for sharing and clearing up some problems i was experiencing!

    1. Thanks so much, Debra! I'm glad the tutorial was helpful

  2. Hi Michele, i've only sprayed a mirror, so far. Id love to repost it on my blog, if you dont mind! Great tips!

    1. Barbara, yes, please share the link on your blog!

  3. Can I say GORGEOUS!!!!! We have that dresser in the garage! I am ...waiting for spring (after bringing it home learned lesson...if it comes from a smokers home...). Hoping the winter airing will take care of the smell ... I wish I could do what you did to it! It will be black like most of furniture I have done for our bedroom... although I have two turquoise, black with gold wash...they are mine, this will be hubby's. I do love that and hope some day to get there to visit your shop.

    1. Cindy, you sure can! (say
      Not much worse than furniture from a heavy smokers gross. Seeing all that tar and nicotine stain embedded into the paint really makes you think about what it does to your body...YUCK!
      Happy painting!

  4. I am a veritable spray paint addict and I loved your spray painting guide. Another tip I found helpful is to shake the can frequently while you are painting. I also use a spray paint trigger that helps keep your fingers from cramping up.
    I can't wait to try this new paint. Do you sell it?

  5. Hi Michele - I'm planning to use the Amy Howard Lacquer on a vanity that is approximately the size of the last piece in your photos above (the beautiful desk - I think it's in black). Would you mind sharing how many cans of primer and paint you used on the black desk (and also on the dresser - looks like it's in Seaside, maybe?) What colors did you use on those two pieces? I'm trying to decide between Vendome Grey and La Grange. Your pieces are beautiful!! Thanks!

  6. Hello! I'm curious, did you need the pieces sanded and primed before spraying?