Lacquer Turned White — Reasons + Ways to Fix

If you buy something through our posts, we may get a small commission. Read more here.

Share It

Lacquer that turned white can be an unsightly and frustrating issue that many homeowners and DIY enthusiasts encounter. This expert guide delves into the root causes of this common problem and offers practical solutions to restore your lacquer’s original beauty.  

Why Your Lacquer Finish Turns White or Blush

Blushing, a milky-white lacquer appearance, results from the moisture trapped inside. Reducing internal room humidity, reapplying lacquer, or using a retarder can facilitate evaporation and prevent blushing. 

It gives a fast cooling effect below the dew point to avoid high humidity and usually condensation.

Water Spots & Rings

Moisture-induced white marks on lacquered tables can also appear when you place drinking cups with hot beverages on the surface. This can be simply treated with mayonnaise. Its oil content displaces water in micro-cracks over time. 

4 Ways to Fix Blushing in Lacquer

1. Allow the Moisture to Evaporate

Evaporating trapped moisture within the thin layer can be achieved using heat, which eliminates white spots on the finish. Gather the necessary supplies to effectively employ heat for moisture evaporation and a restored clear lacquer appearance.

lacquer turned white



  1. Place fabric over white marks. 
  2. Use iron on medium setting. 
  3. Move the iron in sweeping motions. 
  4. Reposition until spots fade. 
  5. Get rid of the fabric. 
  6. Use the hairdryer on low setting. 
  7. Target remaining spots, keeping 3-4 inches away.


2. Thin the Lacquer Finish

Lacquer thinner can fix white spots if moisture isn’t deep. It removes excess lacquer, letting moisture escape. Lightly spraying lacquer to avoid excessive application, and use horizontal strokes for optimal results.

mixing lacquer paint

3. Apply a Lacquer Retarder

Lacquer retarder is the optimal solution for blushing, especially in humid environments. It extends drying time, which makes solvents evaporate and prevents white spots caused by rapid drying.

4. Consider Using a Dehumidifier

Dehumidifiers [1] lower air humidity, aiding moisture evaporation and removing white stains and spots. Keep the room and relative humidity below 50% or use a well-ventilated area. Reapply lacquer after removing spots for a proper seal.

Applying Lacquer to Prevent White Spots: Here’s How!

Supplies Needed

Step 1: Prepare the Area and Wood Surface

tools for painting

Avoid high humidity to 50% or use a well-ventilated space. Wipe the wood surface with white spirits or alcohol, then the lacquer dries. We suggest sanding using 180-grit paper along the grain, and wiping away sawdust for a smooth finish.

Step 2: Prepare the Lacquer

Mix equal parts lacquer and retarder, load the spray gun, and wear a facemask. The retarder slows drying, preventing white spots. In low humidity, use lacquer thinner instead.

Step 3: Spray the Finish

Load the spray gun to apply lacquer, set it to 30 PSI, and practice on scrap wood. Then, apply a thin, even, and light coat to the wood surface, covering the entire area, as missed spots are hard to detect later. 

Step 4: Dry it Completely

Allow the first coat of lacquer to dry for around 30 minutes, avoiding touch-ups during this time. Lightly sand the entire surface with 320-grit sandpaper between two coats, using a clean rag to remove residue. Once the initial coat is dry, proceed to apply the second or next coat of lacquer.

Step 5: Apply Another Lacquer Coat (If Needed)

Apply more lacquer coats, covering missed spots, to achieve the desired appearance. Fully dry between 4-5 coats with a 24-hour cure time. Let the final coat cure overnight. Lacquer retarder extends drying, letting the moisture evaporate and preventing white spots.

spraying lacquer to dining table

How Many Lacquer Coats Should You Apply To Wood?

Apply at least three coats of lacquer to achieve the desired finish, allowing for complete drying between each coat to prevent white discoloration spots. You may add more coats as needed to obtain the preferred result.

Is it Okay to Thin Lacquer Using Acetone?

While acetone can be used to thin coat of lacquer finish, its rapid evaporation may cause the lacquer to dry too quickly, potentially trapping moisture and leading to lacquer blushing. Therefore, using acetone instead of lacquer thinner is not recommended for this application.

How Long Lacquer Lasts on Wood

Lacquer finish can last for decades on a wood surface when applied properly and protected from environmental factors such as temperature fluctuations, dust, and debris. 

Indoor lacquer finishes typically have a longer lifespan than outdoor finishes due to less exposure to external elements.


When lacquer turned white, it’s a critical issue that might hinder a perfect finish. But by grasping the causes and using proper techniques, you can prevent or fix this problem. With the right know-how, your woodworking projects will have pristine, long-lasting lacquered surfaces.

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
Related Articles
Join our community on facebook and get 3 woodworking plans for free!

Join Our Woodworking Community on Facebook And Get 3 Woodworking Plans for Free!