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Forum topic by Shahidan posted 06-05-2014 09:52 AM 1545 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Shahidan's profile


28 posts in 1722 days

06-05-2014 09:52 AM

Alll the time I have been using polyurethane varnish. This varnish is slow drying . I tried using lacquer and thinning it with thinner. To my dismay the coating turned into an ugly shade of white. Is it wrong to thin lacquer with thinner? And I don’t know how to remove the coating.


13 replies so far

View kirbi69's profile


83 posts in 1785 days

#1 posted 06-05-2014 09:57 AM

what kind of thinner?

View kirbi69's profile


83 posts in 1785 days

#2 posted 06-05-2014 10:04 AM

i found this on a website…

To thin lacquer, lacquer thinner has to be formulated properly. It has to have enough dissolving solvent to put the lacquer totally into solution or the sprayed lacquer will resemble tiny pieces of white cotton. This is called “cotton blush” or “kick out.” Lacquer thinner sold for clean up usually has too low a percentage of dissolving solvent to put lacquer into solution.
Lacquer thinner made from reclaimed solvents is also risky to use for thinning lacquer. Since the reclaimed solvents vary from batch to batch, the thinner may work well one time and not well the next.

heres the full article…

View Shahidan's profile


28 posts in 1722 days

#3 posted 06-05-2014 10:29 AM

I only know of one thinner and that is ordinary paint thinner. The hardware shops sell only this type of thinner . It never cross my mind that there are many types of thinners.

I have read the article as suggested and I don’t think I can locate any shops selling special thinners for lacquer. I think I should use lacquer in aerosol cans from now on.


View JAAune's profile


1853 posts in 2518 days

#4 posted 06-05-2014 01:56 PM

The instructions on lacquer cans should be specific about using “lacquer thinner” which is totally different from paint thinner.

Lacquer thinner is available at any of the big box hardware stores I’ve visited. If they sell lacquer, they will have the thinner. It will be on the same shelf that has denatured alcohol, paint thinner, turpentine, acetone and several other varieties of liquid chemicals.

The good news is that you can remove the bad coating with lacquer thinner and try again. Cured lacquer dissolves when exposed to its own solvent.

-- See my work at and

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2877 days

#5 posted 06-05-2014 02:13 PM

Ditto – what JAAune said. Lacquer is formulated for different temperatures and you have to get the right stuff. When you buy shake can products you buy mostly thinners and very little finish.

View Finisherman's profile


227 posts in 2051 days

#6 posted 06-05-2014 03:48 PM

As others have said, paint thinner is incompatible with lacquer. You need to use lacquer thinner. If you can’t find lacquer thinner at your local hardware store, try going to a store that sells autobody paints and supplies. I often buy my lacquer thinner from an autobody supply shop anyway. It’s cheaper. If you absolutely can’t find lacquer thinner, you might be able to get away with using acetone instead. Test the finish on scrap first.

View Ocelot's profile


2113 posts in 2840 days

#7 posted 06-05-2014 04:12 PM

The OP is in Malaysia. His “big box stores” may be dif than yours.

View JAAune's profile


1853 posts in 2518 days

#8 posted 06-05-2014 05:39 PM

Hmm. Could be. I’m surprised they’d ship lacquer products but not the compatible thinner to any local. In that, case, FinisherMan’s suggestion of automotive shops may work. That’s also where I buy my general purpose lacquer thinner because you can get 5 gallons for $35.

-- See my work at and

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2556 days

#9 posted 06-05-2014 06:51 PM

They will ship lacquer products, but you have to pay a heavy haz mat fee for them to do so.

Use Lacquer thinner to thin, not pain thinner

If the lacquer is cloudy you may want to get some lacquer retarder as well, to add to slow the dryig process to allow additionally time for humidity to escape the lacquer before it begins the curing process.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


602 posts in 1696 days

#10 posted 06-05-2014 08:44 PM

The problem area could be the actual lacquer thinner formulation used?
Lacquer thinner is a blend of several solvents. There are many brands of lacquer thinner, and each has (large) variations. Noticed a few years ago the common big box brands are using more alcohol in the blend to met EPA VOC standards.

If I’m thinning any type of lacquer finish product, I only use lacquer thinner from my local automotive paint suppler (it’s lower cost than a similar thinner available from wood finish stores). It blends perfectly, but is much more toxic and evaporates almost too quickly. I usually end up needing a special thinner blended for higher temperatures here in Arizona desert, or adding extenders to slow the evaporation and better control wet out depending on which brand of finish I am using. Even the local Sherwin Williams professional wood finishing supply store has different lacquer thinners for sale depending on your finishing environment.

Since the OP is in Malaysia, I suggest he is going to need something special as well to deal with high humidity and high temperatures. Long chain alcohol/gylcol solvents used as extenders can be problematic in high humidity environments as they will absorb airborne water before they evaporate and cause white blush as well.

Hope this helps.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View jinkyjock's profile


488 posts in 1776 days

#11 posted 06-05-2014 10:18 PM

Hi Shahidan,
you don’t say if you are using Pre-cat or a 2pack AC lacquer.
Also are you spraying or brush application.
If you are new to using lacquer suggest you try pre-cat,
if you are using brush application compatible retarding agents can be used to extend open time.
Adding extra thinners alone does not work, and compatible thinners MUST be used with lacquer.
Lower cost thinners are fine for clean-up of guns/brushes.
I would think your agent/supplier could provide the correct match of lacquer/thinner.
The containers for thinners/lacquer always have a code/batch number on the label which will denote compatibility.

View Shahidan's profile


28 posts in 1722 days

#12 posted 06-06-2014 09:33 PM

Thank you for all your suggestions . At least now I am more enlightened about lacquer and special thinners needed to thin lacquer.
I went to Ace Hardware here and even they were ignorant of thinners for lacquer. They said any thinner would do ! I think it will take a long time for me to try to locate the thinner. As such I might as well continue with using polyurethane. Polyurethane varnish has no problem of application.

Here,in Malaysia. availability of products is not comprehensive and dealers are seldom of much help. Hey, I also found out that if I don’t thin the lacquer it works alright but it does not have the self leveling quality as polyurethane.

Thanks again to all of you.


View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

595 posts in 1671 days

#13 posted 06-07-2014 06:30 PM

The humidity in malaysia might also affect the way lacquer cures. blushing is commonly caused by moisture in the air supply if you are spraying, for example.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

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