Can I Lacquer Over Acrylic Paint?

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Man using a paintbrush to cover an old wood table in lacquer.
Image Credit: danefromspain/iStock/Getty Images

Lacquer and acrylic paint aren't necessarily different things. Acrylic paint consists of acrylic plastic suspended in a solvent; it's a non-yellowing form of lacquer. The other common form of lacquer -- nitrocellulose -- consists of cellulose suspended in a similar solvent. CAB-acrylic lacquer is a combination of cellulose and acrylic.

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Solvent-Based Acrylic

Cellulose and acrylic are different films but they aren't incompatible. When you spray lacquer over a solvent-based acrylic finish, they combine to form a hybrid film, even if the acrylic is pigmented to form a paint. It isn't unusual to clear-coat an acrylic paint finish on a metal surface, such as on an automobile, with CAB-acrylic or acrylic lacquer.

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Acrylic Latex Paint

Acrylic latex paint is an acrylic finish, but it won't soften when you spray lacquer on it. Instead, the lacquer remains on the paint as a surface coating. It bonds well and although lacquer isn't as flexible as acrylic-fortified latex, it doesn't crack except under extreme fluctuations in temperature or humidity. Nitrocellulose lacquer has a tendency to yellow with age, though, and it may dull the color of the paint.

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