Question:

I am near completion of a very large bed for my daughter. The bed is constructed mostly out of Douglas fir. I'd like to finish it to match the color of an antiqued white dresser she already has, and because of the bed's large size I'd like to spray the finish. Since the finish needs to be durable, I was planning to use colored lacquer.

Can you recommend any particular brands of lacquer that would be suitable for this project?  I would prefer water-based if possible. Also, should I use a sealer? How does one get an antiqued effect? And how can I match the color? This is my first time spraying with lacquer so I'd appreciate any other advice. I'd be open to using other types of spray finishes as well.


-- Richard , via Ask The Experts , ,

Answer:

Picking this size project for your first foray into spraying lacquer can be challenging and/or disastrous. Take some time and read some finishing techniques concerning spraying first.

If you have a Sherwin-Williams store around, you might try them for lacquer. Not all the retail stores carry lacquer, but they will be able to direct you to their nearest professional supplier. Sherwin-Williams also has a great publication on spraying techniques that will be helpful. A water-based lacquer by Oxford is available although I can't give you any direct feedback because I don't use it.

Tips for spraying lacquer
Lacquer is one of the more challenging materials to spray. Here are a few tips specific to your project to keep in mind as you go:

1. Be sure to clean your gun immediately upon completion.

2. Always seal a surface before applying topcoats. In your case a white sealer would be preferable.

3. After sealing the surface, use a glaze to "antique" the surface. A glaze by definition is a translucent film of color over a sealed surface. You can thin a gel stain down for this, or you can use a glaze like Behlens that is available through various catalogs. Refer to your matching furniture piece to help guide you on where the glaze color should be applied for an authentic antiqued look.

4. Unfortunately, there is no way for me to tell you how to get an exact color match. For that I would need the piece in front of me. A paint store that also deals in lacquer should be able to analyze any color for you.

Paint vs. colored lacquer
Alternatively, you might consider hand painting the bed. You can use oil or latex paint as desired. You can also spray these coatings, which would require a larger tip and needle for your spray gun to handle the thicker viscosity.

If you do decide lacquer is your finish of choice, practice on some fairly large sample pieces. Better to make your mistakes there than on the bed. Also, read some articles and finishing books, including those on faux finishing. You will pick up some invaluable tips along the way. You can find these at your local library.

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September 1, 2006