Mastering Table Care: Your Comprehensive Guide to Lacquering a Table

Looking to give your old table a shiny new lease on life? Lacquering a table is an excellent way to do just that. It’s not only a protective measure, but it also adds a glossy, professional finish that’ll make your table look like it’s straight out of a high-end furniture store.

You might think it’s a job for the pros, but with the right tools and a bit of patience, you can do it yourself. This guide will walk you through the process, step by step, so you can transform your table and add a touch of elegance to any room.

Key Takeaways

  • Lacquering a table isn’t just about protection, it offers a glossy, professional finish that can upgrade your furniture dramatically.
  • Choosing the right lacquer involves multiple considerations such as the table’s state, finish preference, durability, and personal sensitivity. Wooden tables usually require an oil-based lacquer while worn-out tables might benefit from a satin finish lacquer.
  • Correct table preparation is crucial for an effective lacquering process that includes thorough cleaning, sanding, sealing the wood, and taking care of any existing imperfections.
  • Application of lacquer involves using a high-quality brush designed for lacquer, applying the lacquer in straight, even strokes, allowing each layer to dry, and lightly sanding the lacquered surface before applying the next coat.
  • Meticulous sanding and buffing are needed for each lacquer layer application to even out imperfections and infuse a glossy shine, respectively.
  • Maintenance of a lacquered table includes regular dusting and cleaning, avoiding direct exposure to heat or wet items, performing regular surface checks for potential damages, and applying furniture polish occasionally.

Lacquering a table not only enhances its appearance but also extends its lifespan by providing a protective coating. offers an engaging guide on transforming tables with lacquer, ideal for those looking to revitalize old furniture, accessible here. Southern Nell’s Gracious Living delves into the specifics of applying lacquer through a detailed DIY approach, helping you achieve a durable and glossy finish, viewable here. Additionally, a comprehensive tutorial by YouTube on refinishing a lacquered wood table provides visual and practical advice for those undertaking this project, available here.

Choosing the Right Lacquer

So you’ve taken on the exciting project of lacquering a table. Now, it’s time to get down to business. Which lacquer is going to be your game-changer? Throw a generic search on any e-commerce platform and you’ll see a daunting crowd of lacquers waiting for you. But, you just need to know how to pick the right one.

First things first – different tables need different lacquers. You don’t want to slap some high-gloss finish on your rustic wooden table and wonder why it’s glimmering like a mirror. Assess your table’s current state and what kind of look you’re going for.

For wooden tables, consider a lacquer with an oil base. Oil-based lacquers provide a durable and glossy finish that’s perfect for tables that you’re using frequently. These types of lacquers work by penetrating the surface of the wood, providing added strength and a compelling shine.

If you’re dealing with a table that has a worn-out, stressed finish, a lacquer with a satin finish might be a better fit. Satin finishes have less sheen, making the table look a tad worn, but in a curated, stylish way rather than neglected.

But those shiny finishes come at a price. It’s important to note that higher sheen equals less ability to hide imperfections. If your table is lined with scratches or has uneven color, stick to matte or low-sheen lacquer. It can help to conceal small damages and inconsistencies.

One must also account for sensitivity due to personal preference or allergies. You may prefer water-based lacquers as they are low in odor and clean up easier than their oil-based counterparts.

Preparing the Table for Lacquering

Before you can imagine daubing on that shiny finish, it’s imperative to prepare your table adequately. Remember, the quality of the preparation stage drastically impacts the final result, just like a soccer team’s practice sessions under the heat of the sun affect their performance on the field. So let’s delve into the essential steps to ready your table for the lacquer.

The first step in your quest towards a beautifully lacquered table is to clean it thoroughly. Dust, grease, or old grime will spoil the effectiveness of new lacquer so make sure every nook and cranny gets attention. Use a mild soap solution or a wood cleaner for this task, ensuring it’s as spotless as a house proud of its appearance.

At this stage, it’s also crucial to address any flaws your table might have. Any scratches, holes, or dents can be filled with an appropriate wood filler. Again, cleanliness is crucial so brush away any residue before proceeding, much like how medicine cleanses and prepares the body for healing. Keep in mind that every detail contributes to the overall effect, aligning pieces together as meticulously as an astrologer charts the stars.

The next juncture in the preparation process is sanding. What sandpaper to use often confounds many. Opt for a 220-grit sandpaper to start with as this will remove earlier finishes along with any minor imperfections. Follow this up with a finer, 320-grit sandpaper to prepare the surface for the lacquer. Note: always move the sandpaper with the grain, which prevents new scratches from forming.

The final task before you begin applying lacquer is sealing the wood. A good-quality sanding sealer aids in filling the wood grain and hardening softer areas of the wood surface. Bear in mind, it allows the lacquer to adhere better, and ensures a smoother, more stable finish.

You see, preparation is not just crucial it’s the heart of the whole lacquering process. Get this right, and you’re well on your way to achieving a finish that doesn’t only protect your table but enhances its beauty.

Applying the Lacquer

The application of the lacquer has its own set of steps and precautions. Let’s dive in.

Get hold of your lacquer and a high-quality, natural bristle brush. It’s critical to use a brush that is designed for lacquer, so don’t skimp on this part. Lacquer can be difficult to work with, and a specialized brush makes the job easier. Quality tools mean a quality finish, it’s as simple as that.

Start brushing on the lacquer in straight, even strokes. Keep your brush wet and maintain constant contact with the table’s surface. It’s important to note that lacquer dries quickly. Hence, overlapping or going back over areas you’ve already coated could create streaks or lumps. Always be aware of the edges, as drips can harden and become difficult to remove.

When you’ve coated your table, leave it to dry completely. While this can take a few hours, it may vary depending on the type of lacquer you’ve used and your environment’s humidity level.

Once dried, it’s time for another sanding session. Now don’t groan, this step is equally critical, though not as intensive. This time, you’re sanding the lacquered surface to facilitate better adhesion for the next coat. You’ll want to use a super-fine grit, around 320 grit sandpaper should do the trick.

After sanding, dust your table off with a clean, damp cloth. Repeat the lacquering and sanding process until you achieve your desired finish. Typically, this would mean about three coats.

Between each coat, don’t forget to let your table dry thoroughly and sand lightly. Remember, patience is key here; the more time and care you put into this process, the more rewarding the result. You’re not just looking for protection with this lacquer, but you’re creating a piece of furniture that truly shines in its glory.

The above steps outline the process to apply lacquer onto your table. Yet, there’s another major part of our journey in table lacquering which calls for attention, which is our final stage: Maintenance and care. After all, you’ll want your hard work to last.

Sanding and Buffing

Perfecting those final touch-ups on your lacquered table requires meticulous sanding and buffing. Sanding your table smoothens the irregularities while buffing enhances its shine. When performed diligently, you’ll observe that these seemingly small steps reinforce the beauty of your furnished piece.

Achieving Smoothness through Sanding

After every lacquer application, it’s quintessential to lightly sand your table. This step proves beneficial in multiple ways:

  • It evens out any imperfections that may have occurred during lacquering
  • It promotes better adhesion for the next layer of lacquer

With a fine-grit sandpaper, make delicate and consistent strokes all across the table surface, targeting the tiny raised bumps or ridges that may have surfaced during the drying process. Remember to wipe away the residual dust with a slightly damp cloth.

Infusing Gloss through Buffing

Once your table has been sanded and cleared of dust, it’s time for the ultimate shine. Buffing is the epitome of achieving that sought-after glossy look in your lacquered table. This simple yet effective technique involves a piece of cloth and some elbow grease.

Using a lint-free cloth, start rubbing the table in circular motions. Put a small amount of pressure but not too much. The friction should be enough to generate some heat and help the lacquer shine.

  • Sanding and buffing should be implemented after every layer of the lacquer application.
  • Always use a fine-grit sandpaper for sanding – this helps in preventing unwanted scratches.
  • For buffing, use a lint-free cloth – this avoids adding unnecessary fibers to the lacquered surface.

As the sanding and buffing process gets repetitive with each layer of lacquer, you’ll start noticing a distinct level of appealing luster on your table. The transformation is likely to leave you more than satisfied with your hard work. The upcoming section of the article will guide you through essential maintenance tips to prolong the lifespan of your lacquered table.

Maintaining Your Lacquered Table

Once you’ve given your table a fresh lease of life with lacquer, it’s essential to keep it looking its best. So how do you ensure your lacquered table maintains its lustrous finish for a long time?

Regular Cleaning is Critical

Dust and dirt can dull the glossy sheen over time, making it paramount to keep your table clean. Wipe it down regularly with a dry, soft cloth. Avoid using abrasive cleaners that might scratch the surface, and instead opt for mild soapy water for sticky spots.

Another great approach: Use a top-quality furniture polish every few months. It’ll nourish your lacquered table and retain that gleaming finish. Just be sure to apply it in small quantities and buff it out well.

Avoid Water Stains and Heat Damage

Be mindful of potential enemies – water stains and heat. Yes, that’s right! Water rings can irreversibly damage your lacquer finish. Always use coasters or mats to prevent direct contact with hot or wet items. It’s a simple practice but makes a world of difference.

Should a water stain occur, don’t panic. It can often be removed by gently rubbing with toothpaste and a soft cloth. But remember to test this method in a hidden area first.

Regular Surface Checks

Your lacquered table isn’t immune to dings and scratches, but fear not! It’s not the end of the world. Keep an eye out for any signs of damage. Tiny hairline scratches can be touched up with a little more lacquer and buffing. Any substantial damage might need professional attention, though.

Remember, maintaining your lacquered table isn’t just about preserving its beauty – it’s about extending its life and functionality as well. With these tips in hand, you now have everything you need to safeguard your lacquered table’s glossy finish. Then we ensure the longevity way beyond what you might’ve thought possible.


You’ve got all the tips and tricks to keep that lacquered table looking shiny and new. Remember, regular cleaning with a soft cloth and mild soapy water is your first line of defense. Add a high-quality furniture polish to your routine and you’ll see that glossy sheen last longer. Don’t forget to protect your table from water stains and heat damage. Coasters and mats aren’t just for decoration, they’re your table’s best friends. And if you spot a scratch, don’t panic. A little touch-up with lacquer and some buffing will do the trick. With these maintenance tips, you’re well on your way to preserving the life and beauty of your lacquered table. It’s all about care and attention. After all, your table deserves it.

What is the best way to clean a lacquered table?

Regularly clean your lacquered table using a soft cloth and mild soapy water to prevent dust and dirt buildup. Wipe it dry thoroughly after cleaning.

How often should I polish my lacquered table?

It’s recommended to polish your lacquered table every few months using a high-quality furniture polish. This can help maintain its lustrous finish.

How can I prevent water stains and heat damage?

To avoid water stains and heat damage to your lacquered table, consider using coasters and mats. These can provide a protective barrier against hot or wet items.

What to do if my lacquered table gets scratched?

For small scratches on your lacquered table, you can touch up with extra lacquer and then buff the area until it blends in seamlessly with the rest of the surface.

How can I preserve the life and beauty of my lacquered table?

Following regular maintenance tips such as cleaning, polishing, using coasters, and attending to scratches promptly can significantly extend the life and beauty of your lacquered table.