Lacquer Turned White? 4 Effective Methods To Fix It

lacquer turned white

Lacquer is one of the most popular wood finishes that is used to give a unique modern look to your high-end furniture and woodworks. It gives glossy, waterproofing properties to the wood. When I was using lacquer to finish my woodwork, I had to deal with blushing lacquer. So, let’s discuss what should we do if, the lacquer turned white.

Lacquer turns white when moisture gets trapped under the lacquer surface and diffuses the light that hits the surface. To fix the lacquer turned white, let the moisture evaporate into the air using heat. Or use lacquer thinner to rub out white spots. Or use a lacquer retarder to slow down drying time.

But there’s more to know about fixing lacquer turned white.

So, in this article, we’ll examine why does lacquer turn white, how to fix blushing in lacquer, how to apply lacquer to avoid getting white spots, and many other tips and tricks.

Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions as well.

Let’s dig in!

Why Does lacquer Finish Turn White?

Lacquer finish turns white when moisture gets trapped inside or under the lacquer finish. Water particles diffuse the light that hits on the lacquer surface and result in white spots in the finish. This is also known as lacquer blushing.

Lacquer is considered one of the fastest drying finishes. It usually dries within 12 hours and cures within 24 – 48 hours. Therefore, most people tend to spray lacquer as a finish to get their desired look and protection.

But when the lacquer finish is drying, it uses a fast cooling effect with the help of environmental moisture to dry quickly. Therefore sometimes, when lacquer dries up, the moisture will stay underneath the lacquer layer. Once the lacquer layer gets completely hardened the moisture will result in white spots and cause lacquer blushing which is difficult to remove.

This is a common thing if you’re living in a humid environment. When you apply a lacquer finish on wood following the wrong method, the moisture will get mixed with lacquer during the process. White spots are microscopic water bubbles that appear when light hits on the surface due to the diffusion of light.

Microscopic water bubbles group together and create a cloudy white stain under your clear lacquer stain and ruin the beauty of the wood.

When the lacquer layer get hardens over time, water particles will be trapped inside, and they will have nowhere to go. Moisture is covered by a wood wall from one side and a lacquer layer from the other side.

To fix that water particles need to be removed by evaporation, absorption, or by thinning of the lacquer layer. Otherwise, moisture will turn clear lacquer into milky white blush with random white spots. This will destroy the beautiful appearance of your high-end furniture.

Plus, it not only destroys the appetence of the wood buts also moisture can cause wood rot if it stayed there for so long. Therefore, I highly recommend you fix the lacquer finish that turned white as soon as you noticed the issue.

So, let’s find out how to fix lacquer turned white.

How To Fix Blushing in Lacquer?

Fixing blushing is easy only if you follow the correct procedure. Otherwise, you’ll end up with the worst wood appearance and damage the wood surface. You’ll never even think of using lacquer as a finish after that.

There’re 4 main methods you can use to fix blushing in lacquer. They are,

  1. Let the moisture evaporate out into the air
  2. Thinning the lacquer finish
  3. Apply Lacquer retarder
  4. Use dehumidifier

So, let’s discuss each of the above methods to fix lacquer turned white using simple techniques.

1. Fix lacquer Blushing by Evaporating Moisture Using Heat

You can evaporate the trapped moisture inside of the lacquer layer using heat. Once the moisture gets evaporated into the air, you’ll no longer see white spots on the lacquer finish.

To evaporate trapped moisture using heat you need to use the following supplies.

  • Hair dryer
  • Iron
  • Soft cloth
  • Lacquer finished surface with white spots

Here’re the steps you need to follow to eliminate white spots on lacquer using heat,

  1. Place a soft cloth on top of the white spots of the lacquer finish of the wood.
  2. Set iron to a medium setting and switch it on.
  3. Place iron on top of the cloth and move in sweeping motion without staying in one place.
  4. Move iron frequently until the white spots eventually fade away.
  5. Once you see the white spots vanishing, continue the process for a long.
  6. Once you see of vanishing a significant number of white spots, you’re done with ironing.
  7. Remove the cloth
  8. Take the hair dryer and set it to the lowest settings.
  9. Use it on naked remaining slightly visible white spots in sweeping motion by keeping a distance of 3 -4 inches.

Tips:

  • Set iron to plain settings. Not a steam mode. Because steam mode releases water to the cloth and causes more troubles.
  • Never use iron to its maximum high heat settings because that can harm the wood and may cause discoloration. We only need to focus on lacquer finish. Not the wood underneath.
  • Plus, always make sure to move the iron on top of the cloth without staying in one place. Because the cloth might stick to the iron.
  • You can check for remaining white spots under a decent amount of light at an angle.

Make sure not to miss any spots when ironing and hair drying because it’s a little bit difficult to identify missing spots once the job is done.

You can repeat the above process until you feel they’re no more white stains on the lacquer finish. Ironing and hair drying is the best and simplest method to keep lacquer finish from blushing.

2. Thinning the Lacquer Finish

You can apply lacquer thinner to the areas with white spots to make them fade away and get the original clear coat of lacquer finish. This works only if the trapped moisture isn’t too deep.

Lacquer thinner cut off the extra layers of lacquer and makes a pathway for trapped moisture to come out. Once they’re released into the atmosphere, the lacquer will no longer turn white.

Spray lacquer thinner a couple of times by setting your gun light. Flow the surface to let the water comes out, but not too much because it runs. Spray lacquer thinner horizontally to get the help of gravity to pull the softened finish into a run.

3. Apply Lacquer Retarder

Applying a lacquer retarder is the most effective way of removing lacquer blushing. Lacquer retarder is also known as the blush remover. Lacquer retarder is the best option you can go with to fix lacquer blushing, especially in high humid conditions.

Lacquer retarder will slow down the drying process of lacquer finish. This will make lacquer slow drying, and it will give enough time for the moisture to evaporate into the air.

Mostly lacquer blushing happens because lacquer dries quickly, and moisture usually doesn’t get enough time to escape. So, mixing lacquer retarder with lacquer before applying will slow down the drying time of lacquer and moisture will get enough time to escape to the atmosphere. This will prevent the lacquer from tuning white and getting white spots.

4. Use Dehumidifier

Dehumidifiers are useful to dry up the air around the wood. When the outside area is dry and less humidity, moisture trapped inside of the lacquer finish tends to evaporate to the outside to balance the humidity outside and inside.

This is a good method to remove moisture from the lacquer finish and remove white spots. No water will condense under the lacquer finish during this period.

If you don’t have a dehumidifier, better to keep wood in a well-ventilated area by opening windows in a dry climate. Try to regulate internal room humidity to less than 50%.

Once the white spots are wiped away completely, you can reapply lacquer to seal the wood with lacquer correctly without getting in contact with moisture.

Now you know how to fix blushing in lacquer with the simplest methods.

So, let’s find out how to apply lacquer to avoid getting white spots.

How To Apply Lacquer to Avoid Getting White Spots?

By applying lacquer correctly, you can avoid getting white spots. When lacquer turned white it takes so much time to fix that and sometimes nothing will work. So, better to apply lacquer wood correctly from the beginning to avoid making any mistakes to avoid lacquer blushing.

Supplies You Will Need

  • Lacquer
  • Lacquer retarder
  • 180 grit sandpaper
  • Mineral spirit or denatured alcohol
  • Gloves
  • Rags
  • Spray gun
  • Facemask

Here’re the steps you should follow to apply lacquer finish correctly to avoid getting cloudiness.

  1. Prepare the area
  2. Prepare the surface
  3. Prepare the lacquer finish
  4. Spray the finish
  5. Let it dry completely
  6. Apply another coat of lacquer

So, let’s discuss each of the above steps one by one to get an idea about how to apply lacquer correctly.

1. Prepare The Area

Reduce the humidity of the area to 50% or less using a dehumidifier. Otherwise, take the project to a well-ventilated area like a garage. Open all the windows. Better if you can select a dry weather climate to do the job.

When the humidity of the outside is less than the humidity of the inside of the wood, the moisture won’t trap underneath the lacquer layer. They always try to evaporate and balance the humidity outside and inside. This is a good technique to prevent lacquer blushing and avoid getting white spots in the lacquer finish.

2. Prepare The Surface

Wipe the entire wood surface with the mineral spirit of denatured alcohol. Apply mineral spirits all over the wood using the correct methods and wipe gently with light strokes. Mineral spirits or denatured alcohol are useful to eliminate white spots in previously applied lacquer finish.

After that let the wood surface dry completely before sanding.

Then, sand the entire wood surface with 180 grit sandpaper to remove the previous lacquer finish, other finishes, dirt, and grease. Sanding is important to open the pore structure of wood and make them ready to accept the lacquer finish.

Sanding eliminates saw marks from manufacturing that cannot be seen by the naked eye.

Make sure to sand the entire area with even pressure to apply lacquer evenly. Sand along the direction of the wood grain to avoid wood scratches. Because scratched surface results in a blotchy surface.

Once you’re done with sanding, wipe the surface using rags to remove sawdust and make it smooth and nice.

3. Prepare The Lacquer Finish

Mix 1 part of lacquer with 1 part of lacquer retarder in a container to prepare the lacquer finish. This means mixing lacquer and lacquer retarder in a ratio of 1:1.

Then load your spray gun with prepared lacquer solution. Better to wear a facemask to get rid of the harsh smell of chemicals.

Lacquer retarder is useful to slow down the drying time of lacquer and provide enough time for the moisture to evaporate into the air. This will prevent the lacquer finish from getting white spots.  

Lacquer retarder is so useful especially if you live in a high humidity environment. If you live in a less humid area, lacquer thinner is also good to use instead of lacquer retarder. Mix lacquer with lacquer thinner 1:1 and load the spray gun

4. Spray The Finish

After loading the spray gun with a prepared lacquer finish, adjust the air regulator to 30 PSI and practice with scrape wood before heading into the main project. once you feel safe, apply a wet coat of lacquer finish to the entire wood surface.

Apply a thin coat of lacquer coat for better efficiency. Don’t spray too fast and make sure not to miss any spots during spraying because identifying missing spots is quite difficult once it is fully applied.

5. Let It Dry Completely

After spraying the first coat of lacquer finish, let it dry for about 30 minutes. when the first coat of lacquer is drying, never try to fill the missing spots by spraying again. Leave those areas alone. you can cover up that area during your next spraying round.

Sand the entire surface with 320 grit sandpaper lightly between each coat and use a clean rag cloth to remove residue before applying the next coat of lacquer. once the first coat of lacquer is dried enough, you’re good to move on to the second coat.

6. Apply Another Coat of Lacquer

Now apply another coat of lacquer and make sure to cover up all the missing spots during this round. Apply 4 – 5 coats of lacquer until you get the desired look you wish.

Makes sure to let the wood dry completely between each coat of lacquer, because proper drying is important to avoid lacquer turning white and to avoid getting white spots in the lacquer finish.

The curing time of lacquer is around 24 hours. After the application of the final coat of lacquer let it cure overnight for better absorption and to get better sealing protection with proper curing.

Lacquer retarder will slow down the drying and curing time and give enough time for the moisture to get an escape to the outside air. This is so much helpful to get rid of white spots in lacquer once it is fully cured.

Tips To Apply Lacquer

  • If you live in a high humidity area, using a lacquer retarder is a must to avoid lacquer blushing.
  • Make sure not to use too much lacquer retarder to mix with lacquer because the drying process can be unnecessarily slow and that can lead to many problems like contaminating lacquer finish due to dust and debris before it gets hardened.
  • Lacquer retarder reduces the glossy appearance of the lacquer finish. So, make sure not to use lacquer retarder of more than 50%.
  • Use lacquer thinner and lacquer products from the same quality manufacturer to avoid getting any incompatibility issues.
  • Make sure to keep the temperature regulated during the application period because temperature fluctuations can affect the drying process of the lacquer finish.

Now you know how to apply lacquer finish correctly without getting any white spots once it’s cured.

So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions about lacquer turned white.

How Many Coats of Lacquer Should You Apply To Wood?

Apply a minimum of 3 coats of lacquer finish on the wood to get the desired finish. You are free to apply more coats of lacquer finish until you get the required outcome. but make sure to let it dry between each coat for better application and to avoid lacquer finish getting white spots.

Can You Thin Lacquer with Acetone?

Yes, you can use acetone to thin lacquer finish. But not unlike regular lacquer thinner, acetone is a pure chemical that evaporates so quickly. Therefore, you won’t get enough time for the drying process of lacquer.

The lacquer finish will get dried quickly which can lead to trapped moisture underneath the lacquer finish. So, eventually, this will result in lacquer blushing. Therefore, using acetone instead of lacquer thinner is not a wise idea to apply.

How Long Does Lacquer Last on Wood?

Lacquer lasts on wood even decades if you apply lacquer using the correct procedure. Until the lacquer coat is protected from environmental elements such as temperature variations, dust, and debris, lacquer remains clear without yellowing or fading way.

Mostly indoor lacquer finishes live longer than outside finishes due to getting less contact with outside elements.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Lacquer Turned White

In this article, we have deeply discussed why does lacquer turned white and how to fix lacquer blushing, and how to apply lacquer to avoid getting white spots with tips and tricks.

Lacquer turns white because of the trapped moisture underneath the lacquer surface. You can fix lacquer turned white by Letting the moisture evaporate out into the air, Thinning the lacquer finish, Apply Lacquer retarder, and Using a dehumidifier.

Furthermore, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions about using lacquer finish on wood as well to avoid any problems. Hope you have gained good knowledge about how to apply lacquer without getting blushing with simple techniques. Try the things you learned from this article for your next lacquer finishing project. Have fun in woodworking!

Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him!

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