Can You Put Lacquer Over A Wax Finish? (Best Practice Revealed)

Wood wax finishes are a time-honored way to really intensify the appearance of beautiful wood grain. After all, this stuff is incredibly easy to work with, and can give timber a polished feel.

Wood wax can also seal over wood grain, safe-guarding it from the odd water spill. However, as a durable protective finish, wood wax falls far short of other finishing choices.

Related Post: 7 Surprising Advantages (And 6 Disadvantages) Of Wax Finishes On Wood

Which is why it can be tempting to add a clear coating sealer over a wax. This way the clear sealer will do the heavy lifting of protecting your wax finish.

For example, could you maybe coat wood wax with something like a lacquer finish?

In short, no, you can’t. You can’t put anything over a wax finish, because finishes and sealers won’t adhere to wax. Wax is almost always used as a final top coating finish. It should not be used as an undercoat, or primer.

As a general rule, wax does not take well to most top coat finishes. And lacquer is no exception to this rule.

So, if you want to give your wood craft a touch more protection than wax can offer, what are your options?

Well, in this post, you will learn what would happen if you tried to apply lacquer onto a wax finish. You will also discover what kind of top coat can actually stick and stay on a wood wax finish.

And we reveal what you need to do if you really want to finish your already-waxed wood craft with a coat of lacquer.

can you lacquer over wax

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What Is A Wax Finish Best Used For?

While wood wax finishes undoubtedly look great, they are used more for appearances sake than for durability.

Sure, they may handle very light scratches a little bit better than a lacquer finish can. But, they provide little to no protection, (for the wood underneath), from deep scratches and dents.

What’s more, most wax finishes will need to be redone and maintained regularly (at least once every 6 to 12 months). So, it really isn’t the best finish on high-use surfaces (like a dinner table top).

Plus, while they are fairly water-repellent, they are far from waterproof. Regardless, these waxy smooth finishes leave wooden surfaces with a silky satin to semi-glossy appearance.

Also, wax is easy to apply as they can be rubbed right into timber with just a rag. So, there is no need for brushing.

What Does A Lacquered Finish Mean For Wood?

When it comes to wood finishing, lacquers give wooden surfaces a hard brittle coat that acts more like a type of varnish.

As a result, lacquer is very susceptible to scratches and abrasions. But, those scratches should be easy enough to level out and fix in a lacquer finish.

Now, while varnish leaves behind a satin or semi-gloss finish, lacquer is a very high gloss finish that won’t discolor and yellow over time (like a varnish can). And it is more water-repellent than a wood wax finish.

There are many different types of lacquer too, such as paint lacquers like nitro lacquer. As well as your standard clear catalyzed lacquer wood finish.

Related Post: Can You Put Nitro Lacquer Over An Acrylic Guitar Finish?

Also, lacquer is usually applied using a brush. Or it can be sprayed on, if you want more of a thinner coat.

And Will Lacquer Coat On Over Wood Wax?

You could certainly try, but don’t be surprised if that lacquer begins to peel and/or flake right off it.

This isn’t the fault of lacquer, however, since wax finishes don’t take well to any top coat.

Related Post: Can You Put A Durable Lacquer Finish Over Shellac?

Can You Put Lacquer Over A Wax Finish? (Best Practice Revealed)

So, You Can’t Put Any Kind Of Top Coat Over Wax?

Not really. So many top coating sealers, (like varnish or polyurethane), will also peel off of wax. Wood wax just doesn’t give anything for those top coats to hang onto.

You’re best shot to getting something to adhere to wood wax would be dewaxed shellac. And, you could in theory use dewaxed shellac as a primer applied over wood wax.

That is because dewaxed shellac is incredibly sticky stuff, and will adhere to practically anything.

Which means that you can apply your lacquer top coat on over the dewaxed shellac primer. Instead of directly onto the wood wax.

Related Post: Can You Apply Shellac Over Varnish?

But, all of this is a lot of extra work for what should otherwise be a pretty straight forward finishing job.

So, best practice, if you want to put a top coat over a wax finish, you have to remove the wood wax first.

How Exactly Do You Remove Wood Wax?

You can use mineral spirits or methylated spirits to remove wax.

Mineral spirits are a petroleum-derivative solvent thinner that’ll break down wax.

Methylated spirits, on the other hand, is made from alcohol. But, it also has a bunch of other chemicals blended into it, so it is a toxic liquid.

Both substances will dissolve wax, enough for you to be able to scrape the softened wax right off.

Simply scrub the waxed surface with an abrasive pad, one that has been soaked in mineral spirit/methylated spirits. Once you’ve done that, only then can you apply a lacquer finish onto your wood craft.

Can You Put Lacquer Over A Wax Finish? (Best Practice Revealed)

To Wrap Up, Here Are The 3 Key Takeaways…

  • 1). Don’t apply lacquer onto wax wood finish. It will only end up peeling off.
  • 2). If you want to apply a lacquer finish, you will need to remove the wood wax first.
  • 3). You can use mineral spirits or methylated spirits to dissolve away and remove wood wax.

References:

Use of wax emulsions for improvement of wood durability and sorption properties – Springer.com