6 Spray Lacquer Finish Problems and Their Solutions

By MWB-Team •  Updated: 04/06/23 • 

Lacquer is one of the fastest-drying wood finishes, so it is usually sprayed. Spraying lacquer properly opens up many opportunities to create beautiful lacquer finishes.

Although spraying lacquer makes it faster and easier to apply, things don’t always go according to plan. Here are six common problems you might encounter while spraying lacquer.


This is one of the most common problems when spraying lacquer. Blushing is the appearance of a milky, white, or cloudy haze in the lacquer film right after spraying on a surface.

The most common cause of blushing is moisture condensing on the lacquer. This usually occurs when spraying lacquer in humid conditions.

To avoid blushing when spraying lacquer, add a blush retarder to the sanding sealer or lacquer as needed. You can also avoid spraying lacquer in humid areas or use an airless hot air-assisted sprayer.


Fish-eyes or cratering describes round depressions or moonlike craters that appear once you apply a lacquer finish. These round depressions or craters are caused by the presence of silicone or oils in the wood.

Fish-Eyes/Cratering on Lacquer

Fish-Eyes/Cratering on Lacquer

Some of the possible causes of silicone and oils include body locations, spray lubricants, and furniture polishes.

To avoid fish-eyes, clean the surfaces thoroughly to remove silicone and oils before application. Because most fish-eye problems occur during refinishing, maintain your wood surfaces with oil- and silicone-free pro and keep silicone away from your furniture and woodworking tools.

Orange Peel

Orange peel describes a problem that makes sprayed lacquer surface look bumpy, like the peel of an orange. Fortunately, orange peel is common in most sprayed finishes and not isolated only to lacquer.

There are different causes of orange peel in wood finishes. However, spraying a thicker finish with little air pressure is the most common. To solve this, you can thin the lacquer by 10-15 percent and retry, or you can increase the air pressure of the sprayer.

Other possible causes of an orange peel include a spray gun moving too fast, failure to deposit a wet coat, thinner being too hot, incorrect fluid nozzle, too far or too close to the surface, and the spray gun is too far or too close to the surface there’s too much draft.


Overspray is the roughness, or white fuzz stuck on the film surface when applying lacquer. It is caused by spraying the gun into the air closer to a lacquered surface.

Once airborne, some particles settle on the surface and create a sandy or gritty feel. Overspray can also be caused by too much air pressure or spraying too close to the surface.

To avoid overspray, spray lacquer at least 8-12 inches from the surface, use the right air pressure, and spray in an environment with no wind gusts or excessive airflow.

Pin Holes/Bubbling

Pinholes appear as tiny holes after spraying lacquer. They look like somebody took a pin and punctured a hole in the lacquer film, hence the name pinholes.

The possible cause of pinholes in lacquer is lacquer mixing up with moisture as it is being sprayed. Pinholes are also caused as air bubbles escape from the wood’s pores into the lacquer finish.

To avoid pinholes, first, spray very thin lacquer dusting coats to bridge the pores. You can also use shellac or a vinyl sealer for a ducting coat before spraying lacquer coats after that. Filling the pores with a pore filler beforehand also helps avoid pinholes.

Sagging and Runs

These are drips or runs that appear on the surface of the lacquer. The causes of sagging and runs are over-thinning the lacquer, using the wrong lacquer thinner, applying lacquer heavily, spraying on a cold surface, and worn or damaged spray gun cap or nozzle.

To fix sagging and runs in lacquer, use a proper lacquer thinner and avoid the causes we’ve mentioned.


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