How to Spray Finish Furniture Using Aerosol Lacquer

For small to medium size jobs, lacquer can be applied with aerosol spray cans. In this tutorial we'll discuss application techniques, best brands, toners and more!

Aerosol lacquers are a key component in every furniture finishing shop. While the amateur can use them for refinishing furniture, pro's often use them for spot finishing & repairs. Toners come in so many shades, and add a whole new element to your finishing repertoire.

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In this video, Steve Ramsey from Woodworking For Mere Mortals put together what we thought was a great video detailing how he finishes projects using aerosol lacquer in a nicely created step by step tutorial.  Thanks for the excellent video Steve!  You can support Woodworking for Mere Mortals by visiting their YouTube channel and supporting him on Patreon.

Aerosol lacquer can be a very effective way to achieve a professional looking finish


Many people use aerosols as an inexpensive substitute to buying a spray gun. The are inexpensive, at least, as long as the amount of finishing being done is not too great. Aerosols are ideal for smaller to medium sized projects.

Most popular finishes are packaged in aerosols in sheens ranging from gloss to flat. These include polyurethane, shellac, waterbased finish, lacquer and pre-catalyzed lacquer. (Pre-catalyzed lacquer is a fast-drying finish like lacquer, but it’s considerably more durable so it’s often used to finish kitchen cabinets and office furniture.) Other useful finishes and products, such as sanding sealers, toners and blush removers, also are packaged in aerosols.

For small to medium size jobs, finish can be applied with aerosol spray cans. Dust-free drying is not as much of a problem with aerosol lacquers because they dry quickly, and because lacquer dries so fast it is not difficult to work with.

Solvent based lacquer fumes can be both toxic and explosive, so great care must be taken. Don't use near an open flame or heat source. Wear a protective respirator to protect yourself from breathing in the fumes. If working indoors, only use solvent lacquer in a ventilated area, where the fumes can be removed by a fan. Aerosol lacquers now even come in water based non toxic formulas !!

An informative video courtesy of Behlen

An informative product video courtesy of Mohawk Finishing

Aerosol Lacquers - We've supplied a link here for aerosol lacquers we use through Amazon

Lacquer can be used on most woods, but it should not be used on teak or rosewood; the oils in these woods will bleed through the finish. Lacquer can be used over lacquer-base, non-grain-raising (NGR) and water-base stains and over lacquer-base fillers. It can be used over other oil-base stains and many fillers, assuming they are fully dried.. Thinned lacquer or shellac or a compatible lacquer-base sanding sealer should be used as a sealer under a lacquer finish.

Mohawk brand aerosols are the most popular among professionals, and can be purchased here on Amazon. Aerosol lacquers are a vital part of every finishing shop. While the amateur can use them for refinishing, pro's will use them more for spot finishing & touch-up. I tend to use the Pre-catalyzed clears and the Toner aerosols, and for the most part those are the only aerosols I need. Mohawk makes great Aerosol lacquer in multiple sheen's and the toners come in so many shades it's hard to decide which to buy.

Lacquer Application Techniques:

Wood to be finished with lacquer must be properly prepared, sanded, and sealed. Immediately before applying lacquer, clean the piece of furniture thoroughly with a tack cloth. Use only aerosol spray lacquer, and protect your working area with drop cloths or newspaper.

Make sure ventilation is adequate. Before applying lacquer, test the spray can on a piece of newspaper or cardboard. Spray cans have different patterns of spray; practicing and watching the test spray pattern will give you enough control to properly cover the surface you're finishing.

First spray the top edge of the surface; then cover the entire surface in horizontal strips, from side to side, top to bottom. As you work, overlap the lacquer spray patterns slightly. The edges of each sprayed area are thin; the centers are thick. Overlapping equalizes the thickness of the lacquer film, keeping the surface even. Never try to equalize the film by brushing the lacquer. Apply only a thin coat of lacquer; this finish must be applied in many thin layers.