How to Paint With Chinese Red Lacquer

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Things You'll Need

  • Red lacquer paint

  • Black lacquer paint

  • Gold lacquer paint (optional)

  • Foam roller

  • Rags

Chinese red lacquer dates to the 14th century when Buddhist monks began painting furniture using lacquer and intricate hand painted designs. The method adds an exotic element to furniture, ornaments and objects, and the paint can be applied to wood, metal or terra cotta. Chinese red lacquer can add a pop of color in a dull room, turning the painted piece into a focal point.


Step 1

Clean and prep the surface. If you are applying this paint to a decorative object or piece of furniture, make sure to use a cleaner with degreaser to remove any oils and dirt. Oil will repel the paint and cause your surface to appear uneven over time.

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Step 2

Sand the object lightly with a fine grit sand paper, providing a rough surface for the paint to adhere to. Wipe off any dust with a damp towel.


Step 3

Apply black lacquer paint to the entire surface of the object using a fine bristled brush or smooth foam roller, making sure that you have complete coverage. Allow to dry.

Step 4

Thin the red lacquer paint with a small amount of water. Start by mixing in 2 tbsp. of water at a time. You want to get the paint to a consistency that will wipe off easily from your object.


Step 5

Brush or roll the paint onto your object and wipe off with a rag, allowing the black to show through. Continue removing paint with the rag until you achieve the desired look. Allow to dry.

Step 6

Using a small brush, paint gold trim to highlight certain areas or add decorative elements. For example, you can paint decorative trim on the front of a cabinet door or add a ring of gold to the rim of a pillar candle holder. You can also add decorative Chinese designs using stencils or by painting freehand. This step is optional.


Using black as your base color is merely a suggestion. Red lacquer can be used as a base or second coat depending on your preference. Lacquer paint also comes in many other colors.


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