Nitrocellulose Lacquer and Paint FAQs

Can Nitrocellulose Lacquer be brushed on?

No, we don't recommend it for two reasons:

1) Nitrocellulose Lacquer dries very quickly, so any streaks or brush marks do not have time to level out.

2) Nitrocellulose Lacquer does not cure, instead it dries through solvent evaporation. When suitable solvent is applied to dry nitro lacquer it will redissolve the lacquer. This makes it almost impossible to build up coats when brushing, as the solvent in the following coat will redissolve and remove the first.

How much should nitrocellulose lacquer be thinned before spraying?

Our nitrocellulose lacquer is not supplied ready to spray. It needs to be thinned. For most circumstances and spraying equipment a thinning ratio of 5%-15% is ideal. Some lower powered spray guns and those with finer nozzles may require thinning up to 30% for a good flow. It will require testing with your own equipment. Generally, the less thinners the better.

The exception to this is when you want the clear top coat to check and crack more quickly. This effect can be accelerated by thinning the lacquer much more than normally recommended. A 50% mixture is good, sprayed in many fine coats.

What do we mean by 5%, 15%, 50% thinning ratio? This percentage indicates how much of the mixed, ready to spray lacquer is thinners. For example:

5% thinning ratio is 5% thinners : 95% lacquer, i.e. 200ml of ready to spray lacquer will be 10ml thinners and 190ml lacquer

15% thinning ratio is 15% thinners : 85% lacquer, i.e. 200ml of ready to spray lacquer will be 30ml thinners and 170ml lacquer

50% thinning ratio is 50% thinners : 50% lacquer, i.e. 200ml of ready to spray lacquer will be 100ml thinners and 100ml lacquer

Which thinners should be used for nitrocellulose lacquer and paint?

Use the following thinners for each type of nitrocellulose lacquer and paint:

  Clear Nitrocellulose Lacquer - Anti-Bloom Cellulose Thinners

  Tinted Nitrocellulose Lacquer - Standard Cellulose Thinners

  Pigmented Nitrocellulose Lacquer - Standard Cellulose Thinners

  Nitrocellulose Guitar Neck Lacquer - Standard Cellulose Thinners

  Solid Nitrocellulose Paint - Standard Cellulose Thinners

  Metallic Nitrocellulose Paint - Standard Cellulose Thinners

  Cellulose Sanding Sealer / Primer - Standard Cellulose Thinners

How many coats of nitro are required?

Our nitrocellulose, either in aerosols or thinned to the recommended ratio, is a 3 coat system. Strictly speaking the aim is to achieve an overall coating thickness, and sprayed at normal speed with normal coating weight at the recommended thinning this means 3 coats.

Coats should be sprayed 4 hours apart, max. of 3 coats per day.

This 3 coat rule applies to base coats, paints and top coats. The exceptions are:

- Tinted and Pigmented lacquers, where you only need to spray enough to get your desired colour strength

- Metallic Paints where an additional coat sprayed lightly from a distance can enhance the metallic effect

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions about or suggestions for this article please use the contact form. Look out for new articles every week!

Simon Hurley

Founder and Managing Director

dartfords® Wood Finishes, part of Rothko and Frost Limited