How to Remove Lacquer from Wood

How to Remove Lacquer From Wood – Top Lacquer Stripping Tips

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Lacquer is a beautiful, long-lasting finish that may be applied to a variety of wood surfaces. However, it may begin to wear out and discolor over time, just like any other finish. In this case, it may be necessary for you to remove the lacquer from your wood. But, how to remove lacquer from wood? While removing lacquer from your surfaces may be a labor intensive process, with the appropriate tools, materials, and procedures, you can do it in a short amount of time, saving you money and time. This article covers how to remove lacquer from wood, how to chemically strip lacquer off wood surfaces, and also includes our recommendation for the best lacquer remover product.



How to Remove Lacquer From Wood

Lacquer is a chemical that has a strong binding effect on different kinds of surfaces including wood. It is extremely durable and may be used in wood for an extremely long period. When it comes to removing lacquer from wood, the first step is to gather the necessary tools and equipment. The method that you choose will determine the kind of tools that will be needed to get rid of lacquer off wood surfaces.

Removing Lacquer from Old Furniture

All necessary tools must be in place before starting the removal procedure. The majority of the tools may be found at your local hardware stores. Once you have collected all of the necessary tools, you should set up your removal project in a well-ventilated area where you may complete all of the operations involved in removing lacquer from wood.

Scraper and Heat Gun for Removing Lacquer


Tools Required

The following are the tools that will most likely be necessary to remove the lacquer from your wood surfaces:

  • Rubberized gloves
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Heat gun
  • Scraper
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Putty or plastic knife
  • Respirator mask or dust mask
  • Cotton balls

There are a lot of methods that can be used when it comes to removing lacquer from wood. These approaches, on the other hand, are divided into two categories: chemical and non-chemical procedures.

Chemical methods make use of chemicals to remove the lacquer coating from your hardwood surfaces. Examples of chemical methods are chemical strippers that work by stripping the finishes from wood with the chemicals, and solvents that dissolve and damage the integrity of the lacquer, and break its bond with the wood. When working with chemical methods, extreme caution must be used since they may release hazardous vapors if not handled properly.

Remove Lacquer in Ventilated Area

 Keep in mind that if you intend to use a chemical stripper it is essential to adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions. Nonchemical procedures, on the other hand, do not include the use of chemicals to remove lacquer from the surface of the surface. Examples of nonchemical methods are sanding, scraping, using a heat gun, and many more.

Man Scraping Lacquer from Wood


How to Strip Varnish off Wood Using a Chemical Solvent

When it comes to removing lacquer from wood, this is one of the most effective methods available. The procedure is incredibly quick and effective, and it works well. Because the lacquer is based on alcohol, it is readily dissolved by the solvent. Compounds such as lacquer solvents may be used alone or in tandem with other chemicals such as denatured alcohol and lacquer thinner, depending on the situation.

Solvents Clean Lacquer from Wood


Selecting a Solvent

When it comes to removing lacquer from wood, there are several chemical solvents to select from. There are many thinner solvents available on the market. You may also use a lacquer thinner in combination with denatured alcohol to get the same results.

Select a Solvent for Lacquer Removal


Apply the Solvent to the Surface

Following the preparation of your lacquer thinner, the following step is to apply it to the surface. Separate your wood into sections before applying the lacquer removal solution. This is to ensure that the lacquer is removed as soon as it has softened.

Apply Solvent to Lacquer on Wood


Allow Time for Drying

Drying time for the solvent should be short, generally just a few minutes. It is important to use the suitable solvent in the appropriate quantities to guarantee that the coat is completely dissolved and lifts completely away from the surface of the wood surface. The lacquer coat may peel off as liquid or flakes if all of the appropriate criteria are followed.

Solvent Lifts Lacquer from Wood


Clean the Wood

Once the solvent acts and dissolves the lacquer coat, you need to remove the finish from the wood. You must also get rid of any solvent from wood. Solvent that remains on wood can damage or discolor the surface. A cloth or small rag may be used to do this. Similarly, when all of the solvents have been removed, you may wipe off the area with a towel. If this stage is completed successfully, you will observe that the wood’s typical glossy and smooth coat has been removed.

Clean Solvent Residue from Wood


Repeat the Process

Some lacquer may linger on certain surfaces after cleaning. In this case, you will have to apply the solvent again using the same procedures as before. However here you will not have to wait for the solvent mixture to get dry before wiping it off.


How to Strip Varnish off Wood Using a Chemical Stripper

Chemical strippers, which are used to remove lacquer from wood, are another kind of chemical that may be used to remove lacquer from wood. In most cases, the procedure is identical to that used in the case of chemical solvents; nevertheless, the approach is different. When employing a chemical stripper, the following are the procedures to be followed:

  1. Start by removing any metal fittings from the wood surface before you start using the chemical stripper.
  2. Next, use fine grit and paper to sand the surface with lacquer. Once the surface is sanded, apply paint stripper to the surface using a paintbrush or a roller and any other appropriate material at your disposal. You can also use 80 to 120 grit sandpaper to get rid of the remaining lacquer coat.
  3. After the sanding operation is complete, wipe the hardwood surface down with a tack cloth to eliminate any lingering traces of sanding dust.


How to Strip Lacquer From Wood Using Heat

This is considered as one of the best methods of removing lacquer from wood. Because no chemical is involved in the method, compared to chemical procedures, there is no significant danger of causing damage to the wood through staining. The main danger is that you may burn wood if you you hold the heat gun too close to the surface. Lacquer layers are peeled off and removed with this procedure, which involves the application of high heat. The steps below show how you can use heat to trip lacquer from wood:

Using Heat Gun to Remove Lacquer


Clean the Surface

The first step is to prepare your woo surface by cleaning it. A dry cloth can be used to clean the surface by simply dampening it in water and wiping the wooden surface. Once you are done cleaning, you need to make sure that the area dries fully before the application process begins.

Clean Wood before Removing Lacquer


Apply Heat to the Surface

The heat must be applied at 45 degrees angle and held at least 4 inches away from the surface of the wood. It doesn’t take long until the old lacquer layer begins to wrinkle as a result of the heat, and it is at this point that a putty knife may be used to scrape it off.

Removing Lacquer from Wood with Heat Gun


Sand the Surface

Finish off by sanding the surface. Sanding should only be done once the majority of the lacquer coat has been removed. Sanding helps in smoothening the wooden surfaces.



Especially, for thin coatings of lacquer, this is one of the most preferred techniques of removing lacquer off hardwood furniture. Either sandpaper or an orbital sander, for example, may be used to complete the sanding operation.

Removing Lacquer from Wood by Sanding


Clean the Surface

Before sanding the surface, you need to make sure it is clean. You can use a soap solution for this.  When cleaning, make sure to get rid of any dirt or dust from the wood wiping it off thoroughly. Before you begin to sand the wood, ensure that the surface is given enough time to dry completely.

Clean Wood before Sanding Lacquer Off


Sand the Surface

You can begin sanding the surface once it has completely dried. Here, sandpaper or a sanding machine can be used. The sand machine may not be able to reach some areas, however, sandpaper can be used for such surfaces. To make the surface smoother, you should follow up using increasingly less coarse sheets of sandpaper until all traces of lacquer are gone. Also take care to sand corners by hand to ensure a smooth even finish.

Sand Lacquer from Wood by Hand


Clean the Sanded Surface

Once you have finished sanding, make sure to clean the surface again to keep it looking good. You can use a paintbrush and a cloth to clean the surface. Ensure that you are cleaning with the grain of the wood rather than against it.



Precautions When Removing Lacquer From Wood

To ensure that your furniture is properly preserved when the lacquer is removed from the wood, there are a few steps that must be taken. These procedures are also in place to keep you and your loved ones safe.

  • Always make sure you are well-properly protected. Regardless of the approach you use, make sure your goggles, as well as respirator mask, are constantly in place at all times. When working with strippers, steel wool, and solvents, make sure your rubber gloves are securely fastened to your hands.
  • Work in a well-ventilated environment. This is an essential step to follow if you are removing lacquer from wood. Because of the potential for hazardous gases and dust from the different procedures, adequate ventilation is required. If the room has windows, make sure they are opened. Fans can also be helpful, therefore, if you have any, turn them on.
  • Appropriately dispose of rags and rubbish. After the varnish has been removed, all of the rags and waste materials, including steel wool, must be placed in plastic bags and transported outside. Avoid leaving them about your home, particularly if you have young kids in the house.
  • Wooden furniture should be protected. Remove any metallic fittings as well as hardware from your wood before beginning the procedure, and keep them in a safe location before continuing. To protect surroundings from dust and lacquer residues when cleaning varnish inside, use a dust mask or plastic sheeting.



Lacquer is a beautiful and long-lasting finish. This product has the capability of remaining on wood for an extremely long period without peeling or staining, even when the wood is handled intensively. However, if you do not know how to remove lacquer from wood, this might become an issue for you. To remove lacquer off wood, a variety of techniques may be utilized. However, you must exercise caution not to harm the wood. Because of the possible toxicity of the procedures outlined, it is necessary to wear protective equipment.



Frequently Asked Questions


How to Strip Lacquer From Wood?

It is possible to remove lacquer finish off wood using a variety of methods, such as chemical solvents and strippers, sanding, heat, as well as scrapers, among others. You have the option of selecting the one that best meets your needs.


How Long Does It Take to Remove Lacquer From Wood?

Generally, it is determined by the strategy you choose. Some take just a few minutes, whereas others take many hours or more. The size of the area you are working on can also affect how long it will take to finish removing lacquer.


Is It Preferable to Sand or Strip Furniture While Cleaning It?

Even though it’s a matter of preference, many people choose to strip antique furniture, particularly if it’s been painted many times over the years. If the finish is peeling off, sanding it off may be time-consuming and dusty, therefore using a paint or stain remover is a preferable option in this situation.


What Is the Most Effective Method of Removing Lacquer From Hardwood Furniture?

To eliminate stains off wooden furniture, apply a thick coating of a stripper using a paintbrush or a rag to the surface of the wood. It should be left to sit for approximately 20 minutes, based on the product’s instructions. After that, remove any remaining material with a putty knife and clean the surface in the direction of the wood grain. After allowing the surface to dry for 24 hours, sand it down to remove any remaining imperfections. If the piece still needs more work, repeat the procedure.

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