Lacquer problems on counter top

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by optimusprimer92 posted 04-26-2017 08:49 PM 1030 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View optimusprimer92's profile


43 posts in 1163 days

04-26-2017 08:49 PM

I recently completed a counter top for out laundry room. Everything seemed to go as expected but today I noticed a few “gummy” spots that looked like glue residue from a sticker or something. There was nothing on the counter that could leave these marks that I am aware of. I rubbed them with a damp rag trying to get them off but they just got worse. They were initially the same color as the counter top but after rubbing the spots, they are now white-ish. Any ideas what this might be? The only thing that comes to mind is that the lacquer never dried in those spots and I essentially just scraped them open, which I would find to be strange. In the first photo, you can see towards the left where it seems to be a spray of “anti-finish” or something weird.

Here are the project stats:
-Doug Fir/Hem Fir glue ups, properly dried for 3 weeks in the house w/ no pitch residue
-Sanded to 220
-India Ink to ebonize the project
-Dewaxed Shellac over the ink and wood (Seal-Coat) to seal color as well as wood
-2 or 3 Coats of Deft Brushing Lacquer (Semi-Gloss) applied after tack dry, about 6 hours apart
-Project has been in the house for about 3 weeks now

Ps- I also noted that the finish is EXTREMELY easy to scratch with a finger nail with very light pressure. I thought lacquer was supposed to be a fairly hard finish but this is just silly.

Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks!

12 replies so far

View TungOil's profile


1371 posts in 1096 days

#1 posted 04-26-2017 10:06 PM

The easy scratching might be the clue here- It may be the shellac causing bonding issues with the top coat. I always spray sanding sealer first then top coat with lacquer- all from the same manufacturer and system, that way I know they are compatible. A traditional brushing lacquer is medium durability in my book behind the newer high performance coatings like conversion varnishes and precat lacquers.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View mahdee's profile


4291 posts in 2368 days

#2 posted 04-26-2017 11:27 PM

If the shellac was old, that could be the cause as old shellac has a tendency not to dry properly. Looks like the lacquer caused it to bubble to the surface. Deft brush on may take several days to fully cure and as mentioned it is pretty light duty during that time.


View optimusprimer92's profile


43 posts in 1163 days

#3 posted 04-27-2017 12:26 AM

Thanks for the replies. The shellac was very dry before the Deft. The Deft had been dry for about 2 weeks before I got these scratches. I am just shocked at what has happened and how soft it is. Could it just be the fact that I am using a softwood for the top that it is scratching this easily? What would you guys do to remedy this situation? I am going to have keys, boxes, detergent containers, etc sitting on this thing and I don’t want it to look like my kitchen table (kids w/forks and knives lol)

View Rich's profile


5126 posts in 1190 days

#4 posted 04-27-2017 01:57 PM

Lacquer isn’t known for durability. While I love lacquer as a topcoat for most things, I’d never use it for a countertop. I believe you’d be better off with a urethane finish. For a recent vanity countertop made of wenge, I used Waterlox sealer/finish, and then Waterlox satin urethane over that. It’s very tough, and water literally beads up on it. I’m really impressed with the results.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View PPK's profile


1629 posts in 1410 days

#5 posted 04-27-2017 03:25 PM

Ditto to all the other comments. I really like lacquer because it’s easy to work with and get a really nice looking finish, but it doesn’t stand up well to water, sunlight, scratches.
Especially water. Further, lacquer on a soft wood base (such as douglas fir) seems to be even worse. Must be something about how lacquer is a hard product, and doesn’t give when the wood gives. Just cracks and flakes off.

I’d probably get out the old sander and try again with some polyurethane. I’ve had good luck with oil based, and have tried water based, but didn’t so much like the water based because it doesn’t spray as well. Good luck with whatever you choose to do!

-- Pete

View PPK's profile


1629 posts in 1410 days

#6 posted 04-27-2017 03:27 PM

Oh, and lacquer and polyeurethane are not compatible… So do make sure to sand off all the lacquer first if you choose to go with the poly route…

-- Pete

View JayCee123's profile


200 posts in 1366 days

#7 posted 04-27-2017 10:57 PM

A lot of good advice has already been given.

Just a question and asked respectfully … I know you indicated the wood (Doug Fir/Hem Fir) had dried 3 weeks in your house. However, was the lumber actually marked as Kiln Dried or Air Dried lumber? Typically, framing lumber (2x’s), whether Kiln Dried (marked KD) or Air Seasoned (marked S-Dry), can have a moisture content as high as 19%. Green lumber (marked S-Green), which may be sold in the rack just beside the Kiln Dried lumber, can have a moisture content well over 19%. Lumber for woodworking purposes should be in the area of about 8 – 12% moisture content. A contributing factor to the failure of your finish may have been the moisture level of the lumber you started with. IMHO, I’d check for any stamps on the exposed surfaces. I’d also invest in a moisture meter, if not I’d stay away from framing lumber for finished woodworking projects and pull lumber from the dimensioned lumber racks.

View optimusprimer92's profile


43 posts in 1163 days

#8 posted 04-28-2017 03:16 AM

JayCee, thanks for the reply. The wood was KD from the Home Cheapo. I know it was probably in the higher moisture content like everything from there seems to be. What I did was buy 2×12’s and cut the center pith out of them so I could have the straight grain stuff from the sides. After that, I put them on their sides in my spare bedroom right next to the floor vent and on top of some other 2×4’s to keep them off the ground. I made sure there was alot of air flow between each of the pieces. Most warped and twisted quite a bit prior to me milling them and joining them. One of them actually bent so much that I couldn’t use it and get the thickness I wanted. I don’t know the final MC however. I actually just picked up a moisture meter the other day and tested it against my table inside. My table that has been inside for a couple years now was at about 6-7%. A random 2×4 upstairs I stacked the lumber on was about 5-6% and all my workbenches in my garage that have been there for several years were right about 11-12%. I tend to use the construction wood based solely on my budget, and also the fact I’m not making fine furniture. Around here, Western WA, a single board for that laundry room top in the cheapest hardwood is going to be around $40 and I would need 6 of them. I know the odds are stacked against me getting good workable wood but now that I have a meter, hopefully I can avoid some of the headache of the wood changing too much after I’ve put it into the project. Only problem is there is nothing I can do about the boards drying to their workable dryness and bending/ bowing more than an inch. Sometimes it makes me want to pull my hair out, if I had any.

View JayCee123's profile


200 posts in 1366 days

#9 posted 04-28-2017 12:32 PM

Hi Optimusprimer92-
Just a thought, try plywood and band the edges with 1x’s. I’ve got a couple work surfaces that I’ve used MDF and Masonite with pine 1x edge boards. If your looking for a better appearance, while keeping an eye on cost, try a sheet of hardwood veneer plywood, and edge with 1x’s. You can relieve the corner of the edge boards with a radius or chamfer for a better feel and appearance.

View CharlesNeil's profile


2501 posts in 4471 days

#10 posted 04-28-2017 12:48 PM

there is obviously some sort of contamination, additionally, Deft , while it has a great look is not all that tough,
If it were me i would strip the top and use a precat lacquer , Sherwin Williams has one called high build pre-cat lacquer, we use it alot and it hold up pretty well .You dont need the shellac or a sanding sealer, we just use the lacquer straight up .

View GR8HUNTER's profile


6797 posts in 1313 days

#11 posted 04-28-2017 01:51 PM

as Charles said deft is not that good ….... we always used Sherwin Williams in cabinet shop …....NEVER had a problem …....GOOD LUCK :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View OSU55's profile


2494 posts in 2590 days

#12 posted 05-02-2017 12:50 AM

Not sure of the specific cause of the finish failure, but that deft brush on is about as weak as nitro lacquer can get. You need to strip and try again. Unless you have a spray gun, dont use the SW precat – great stuff but it has to be sprayed with great ventilation. If you need to brush/ wipe on, good ole minwax ob poly will do as well as anything. Lots of ways to get get different film thickness and sheens with it, and its very durable. No finish will prevent the chosen softwood from denting – to look good over the long haul use hardwood.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics