View Full Version : How to tell if your paint is lacquer?

07-01-2009, 11:24 AM
I searched through the board and did not find this question, (probably means it's a dumb one), but I have a 65 Riv that has some body damage. I was told by the guy I bought the car from that it was shot in lacquer. But since the paint was done before he bought the car, I don't want to assume anything. How can I tell for sure if it is lacquer?

07-01-2009, 11:27 AM
It probably is Laquer.. it will ball up on the sand paper when you sand it..

07-01-2009, 11:29 AM
It will probably have spider web cracks through out the whole car.

07-01-2009, 11:34 AM
That's 1 of the reasons I'm not sure if it really is lacquer. No cracking, crazing, spider webs, nothing. The car was modified in the 80's, I think.

07-01-2009, 11:38 AM
55, I'll try the sandpaper trick. Suggestions on grit?

07-01-2009, 11:42 AM
They changed to enamel in the late 60's Also remove door panels.A quick way to tell if it was repainted. Trunk area ,innerdoor jambs.Interior post trim Look what lies beneath

07-01-2009, 11:48 AM
Take a nice clean rag with a bit of lacquer thinner on it, and rub it onto the paint. If lacquer, it will dissolve some of it, and the color will come off on the rag. If clearcoated, it's harder to tell. First, see if cleared, use a white rag and compound,,,see if the paint comes off as the color, or not. If no color, it's cleared.
if you are getting rid of the paint anyway, soak a rag with thinner and put it on will wrinkle up like you put stripper on it, if it's an enamel based paint.
Or chip a bit of the clear off, and see if it dissolves in a bit of lacquer thinner.

07-01-2009, 11:57 AM
Just like 'olds said. Use a lil lacquer thinner. If it's a repair and you're saving the finish go to an obscure place on the car. If it's cleared it will get 'tacky' and may leave a bit of lint from the rag. DON'T SOAK IT, just wet it and wait a few seconds. If it does nothing at all with this method it's urethane of some kind. Sanding? Don't thinks so. Any type of paint is prone to balling up on the paper with dry sanding but it takes a lotta life in the biz to tell by smell, texture, rate of removal, etc, that it's lacquer.

FWIW, OEM finishes from General motors were lacquer THROUGHOUT MOST OF THE 70s. It was a proprietary resin that was baked at a specific temp to get the gloss. Us old fucks called it 're-flow' lacquer.

07-01-2009, 12:16 PM
Thanks guys. Another dumb question, will lacquer thinner have any impact on enamels? Long story, but a cat knocked a can of lacquer thinner onto the roof. It didn't leak, but the fumes caused the paint to dis-color, and a small section to get brittle, then chip off. It didn't get soft at all.

07-01-2009, 12:25 PM
I spilled some fuel on my mine and the primer lifted. I knew right than and there I had laquer on it. The thinner and rag trick is the way to go.

07-01-2009, 12:45 PM
Does it really matter what is on it? Do a test with hot thinner and if it does not wrinkle should'nt it be OK to prime over?

07-01-2009, 07:04 PM
I took a chip down to a local bodyshop and asked if he could drop it in some lacquer thinner? He thought I was nuts, but in about 1 min all the color dissolved leaving the primer behind. He then declares that it was definitely not lacquer but enamel. Glad I asked here first. Thanks guys!

07-02-2009, 07:34 AM
I think your store guy got it backwards!
Lacquer thinner will dissolve lacquer paint. It will wrinkle enamel paint. If your chip dissolved in thinner, it's lacquer. Though I believe the primer should have dissolved as well...they used to use lacquer primer under lacquer paint if it's OEM.

07-02-2009, 10:14 AM
That was exactly why I was glad I had asked the guys here first. The paint looks to be GM Aquamarine with flake. Not the original Riv color and the car has been chopped, shaved, etc., so not sure when it was originally painted, though I'm guessing the 80's. Overall, the paint is in really decent shape, and I don't want to have to shoot the whole car. I was thinking of either trying to find the same color and repaint the damage, or maybe hit it with some sort of design.

Again, thanks Chop for the help. Speaking of, here is a pic before the da.n CAT!