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Applying Lacquer to Your Project

Quick-drying solvent-based nitrocellulose lacquers were developed in the early 1920s and have been extensively used in industry ever since.

Nitrocellulose lacquers are used on cars, furniture and on musical instruments amongst other projects.

The nitrocellulose and other resins and plasticizers are dissolved in the solvent, and each coat of lacquer dissolves some of the previous coat.

Nitrocellulose lacquers produce a hard yet flexible, durable finish that can be polished to a high sheen.

Once you have successfully completed the three stages prior to this; preparing your surface, applying your primer and then applying your colour coating, you are ready to finalise the process by applying lacquer to your project.

Applying LacquerThe ideal method of application for Pro Aerosols lacquers is what is referred to as wet on wet. This term can be a little misleading – technically it should be wet on tacky, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it so it never took off as a production term.

Ideally, lacquer should be applied over the base colour just as the base colour has begun to flash off. This is because adhesion is created when the solvent in the lacquer reanimates the still curing colour coat.

It is important to note that the colour coat ideally needs to be free from dust and imperfections before the lacquer is applied. That said, sometimes airborne debris and even troublesome insects can land in the colour coat whilst it is still tacky. Don’t panic if this happens. We will return to this point shortly but for now let us assume that your colour coat is clean and bug free and you are ready to apply your lacquer or clear coat as it is sometimes called.

Always apply the first lacquer coat lightly. A light initial coat of lacquer will form a grip coat to which the second coat can adhere without sagging or running.

The simplest way to achieve this light coat is to move the can at a slighter faster pace to that which you were used to when applying your colour coat. Again, the best policy is to practice on a piece of card before you go in for what will be the metaphorical icing on the cake for your paint project.

When this initial light coat has started to become tacky you can apply the gloss coat. Due to the fact that the grip coat will have created adhesion, you will be able to move a little slower although, as with the colour coat application, keep moving when you see the wetting effect of the lacquer. Take care not to move to slowly because if the lacquer goes on too heavy it will be prone to run.

Lacquer will tend to flow out creating a glassy finish over the course of a few minutes so be patient. If another coat is deemed necessary then, once again, this can be applied over the previous coat once this has become tacky.

Now, if your colour coat has collected a little airborne debris or a troublesome fruit fly (more common than it sounds) then all is not lost but you will need to wait for the colour coat to fully cure before you can take steps to rectify the issue.

Once cured, you can gently wet flat any foreign bodies from the colour coat with a fine grade wet and dry paper – anything 1200 grit or finer. You must take care not to flat through to the primer. If you do flat through to the primer you will need to apply further colour coats to create a solid base onto which you can apply your lacquer.

In an ideal situation, you will have removed the debris from your colour coat and maintained a solid base. Now you need to dry your project, degrease it with a panel wipe and remove any dust with a tack rag before applying the lacquer as detailed above.

When your lacquer is totally cured you can polish it to a high shine using a cutting agent and a high quality hand-glaze polish.

If your lacquer is not as smooth and glassy as you would like, you can wet flat any debris using 2000 grit wet and dry paper before cutting and polishing.

Finally, stand back and admire your handiwork. You have now completed your paint project from preparation to polish.

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