Although clear coats like lacquer aren’t always required for every paint job, there are times you’ll need them. But is it okay to paint lacquer over enamel paint?
The most straightforward answer is ‘it’s not recommended’. Because lacquer has a thinning agent that might degrade the enamel paint if you apply a clear coat over fresh enamel paint. Although the degradation is less likely to happen with water-based lacquer, chances are the enamel will turn yellowish over time.
Still, you can get a good result by using matching brands of clear coat and enamel paint so the formulation of the two products isn’t highly different.
What If You Paint Lacquer Over Enamel?
Experts generally recommend avoiding lacquers over enamels. The process is difficult because the solvents used in lacquers are much hotter than those used in enamel and thus evaporate quickly. Doing so may lead to “alligatoring” or cracking on your paint finish because the solvents in the lacquer can dissolve the enamel paint beneath them.
If things like this happen, what you should do is to soak a paper towel in lacquer thinner and then use it to clean the mess off. Wait until it’s fully dried and start over the finishing process. If there is any residue make sure to sand them off prior to finishing.
Now there are exceptions to the rules. Some people have successfully applied lacquers over enamels, with multiple thin layers moving them very slowly. But it is not advisable, especially for beginners.
There are many paint manufacturers nowadays, making it difficult for most people to understand what works well with what. For instance, many people have had problems with Krylon paint being applied over itself despite carefully following the recoat instructions. Most brands of paints seem to work regardless of what they’re applied to (even if the directions are ignored).
There are paints that can be applied over each other, but with varying degrees of success.
Doing a paint test is the best way to ensure compatibility when using paints that you’re unsure of mixing over. Do the test on cardboard, scrap tubing, or something similar. This will tell you whether the paint coats can be applied over or if they react negatively to each other.
Note that in most cases, you can apply enamel safely over lacquer due to its softer, slower solvents. Always pay close attention to surface prep, such as scuffing or sand cleaning, and allow enough time for it to dry thoroughly before coating anything over paint.
Can I Use Lacquer Paint Over Enamel Primer?
Lacquer paint over enamel primer can be a good idea, but I would be weary of it. The lacquer paint will soften and create a water-based environment that could speed up the etching process and cause more damage to the underlying enamel. Also, if you choose to use lacquer paint over an oil-based primer, the lacquer paint may “wick” under the top coat and begin to deteriorate or blister. Be sure to test any new products on an inconspicuous area before applying them over large surfaces!
Can you spray lacquer over latex paint? Read here.