Girlfriend spilled nail polish remover!

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Forum topic by TheBryan posted 05-01-2013 08:58 PM 18423 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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12 posts in 1939 days

05-01-2013 08:58 PM

My lovely Girlfriend spilled a bit of nail polish remover on the living room table. The attached picture is the result of her trying to clean it up.
I am open to suggestions on how to fix this spot without having to strip down entire top. I did not build this piece of furniture, so I do not have matching stain for it.
Open to any suggestion and I thank you in advance!

25 replies so far

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2388 days

#1 posted 05-01-2013 09:10 PM

Short of sanding it back to bare wood, staining, and finishing, the best you can do is smooth it out with a scotchbrite pad and hit it with rattlecan lacquer.

BTW, think about getting a new squeeze.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View pintodeluxe's profile


5706 posts in 2840 days

#2 posted 05-01-2013 09:10 PM

I have stripped & refinished just the top of tables before. It requires a less exacting color match, because light hits the apron and legs differently than the top. Just do a sample board and find the right color.

Acetone is a great solvent, that’s for sure. We used to use it to clean our brake pads on our BMX bikes as kids.

Good luck

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View gtbuzz's profile


427 posts in 2468 days

#3 posted 05-01-2013 09:15 PM

Yikes, did she clean it with sandpaper???

It’s hard to tell what’s going on from just this picture, but it looks like it got all the way down to the wood, is that correct? Based on the way it looks to have eaten into it, I’m gonna guess it was a shellac or lacquer finish. Somone please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think acetone will eat into poly like that.

Do you happen to know what kind of finish that is? That’ll affect what choices you may have. If it is poly, I think you may be screwed. If it’s an evaporative finish and you didn’t get down to the bare wood there are options.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3612 days

#4 posted 05-01-2013 09:18 PM

I think doing the top again is your only choice to get a good match.sorry it’s not good news from me on this occasion Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Tkf's profile


38 posts in 1954 days

#5 posted 05-01-2013 09:38 PM

That loos like shellac to me.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3185 days

#6 posted 05-02-2013 12:53 AM

Acetone dissolves lacquer. It is a main ingredient in lacquer thinner. Nail polish is a lacquer…which is why your table is messed up.

Notice how the wood underneath isn’t the same color. This means that the color for the piece is mixed with the lacquer, not as a stain absorbed into the wood. In other words, it’s a “toned” finish, which is typical of mass produced pieces because it means that the quality of the wood is less of a concern…it all gets an even color because the color stays on top. This lets makers use variations of the wood with little waste. At least that’s my opinion or what you are seeing.

For this reason, I think some brushing lacquer tinted to the right color with aniline dyes and spotted into the work is the method to use. Unless you are really good, it likely won’t be transparent, but it should be a decent fix that’s not too noticable. But if you stain it and then clear it with finish, then you’ll see a real difference in the patch and the surrounding wood.

That said, most people should follow Willie’s advice and strip/refinish the entire top.

-- jay,

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 1919 days

#7 posted 05-02-2013 02:58 AM

That is a great opportunity for your girlfriend to learn how to sand down the table to the wood and refinish it under your patient and encouraging guidance. Possibly this can strengthen your relationship. Or not.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 3128 days

#8 posted 05-02-2013 07:15 AM

I think Dr. Phil above has it right…......................

-- mike...............

View Dave G's profile

Dave G

332 posts in 2075 days

#9 posted 05-02-2013 08:39 AM

What do you have to lose trying a little color matching with the lacquer – assuming it’s tinted lacquer? Lacquer is one of the few finishes that “re-melts” when you apply more so the chances are pretty good that you can blend in a decent color match and get a good looking final finish. Shouldn’t take long to find out and certainly won’t ruin the piece.

-- Dave, New England - “We are made to persist. that's how we find out who we are.” ― Tobias Wolff

View Quanter50's profile


278 posts in 2323 days

#10 posted 05-02-2013 08:48 AM

I’ve seen this before many times. It’s an old old trick women use. It’s just a ploy to get a “new” dining room table. Do yourself a favor and just go buy a new one.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7758 posts in 2941 days

#11 posted 05-02-2013 01:24 PM

Howard’s Restor-a-finish might be an option for blending, hoewever that does seem a bit large for this.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View MrFid's profile


876 posts in 1931 days

#12 posted 05-02-2013 01:52 PM

Thanks to all the commenters for making me laugh on this one. You should probably post a picture of your girlfriend just so we know what we are dealing with here. :)

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View DS's profile


2926 posts in 2447 days

#13 posted 05-02-2013 03:09 PM

Bailey, are you suggesting that the decision whether to 1) try to fix this spot, 2) refinish the entire top, or 3) buy a new table, depends on how the girlfriend looks?

Uh well, he might have a point there Bryan… sorry. ;-)
BTW, he does mention she is his “lovely”girlfriend.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2702 days

#14 posted 05-02-2013 03:26 PM

Tinted finish is going to be the way to go I believe. I find these work best in a spray gun, at least for me. I have never had very good luck brushing these and making them look good. A touchup gun can be bought for not too much.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3185 days

#15 posted 05-02-2013 03:59 PM

Grandpa…yep, you definitely have to mask off the area. You also have to have a variety of dyes on hand and experience with getting a good match. It’s definitely one of the hardest things you can do as a finisher/restorer guy.

It certainly works a lot better when you know what was used to begin with, but at least with lacquer you have a chance to try spot repair it before you strip the whole top.

I just wanted to head off the OP before he tried using a stain. I think that’ll make things worse.

-- jay,

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