Learn how to get a high gloss finish on wood furniture with spray paint. Achieve the Chinoiserie Lacquered Furniture look for less.

You want to know a few of my favorite design and decor words?

I knew you would!

Here they are: Chinoiserie, Lacquer, Eclectic, Colorful, Classic, Traditional, and of course Southern.

Lucky me, I have several rooms that can sit perfectly in those very design style words. Today, we look at the furniture I transformed with spray paint for my master bedroom.

How to Get a Colorful High Gloss Finish on Wood Furniture

Here’s the before image of one of the end tables (or night tables) that received the lacquered painting:

Southern Nell has posted on how to achieve a high gloss spray painted finish in these posts: Lacquered Furniture DIY – Six Simple Steps || Week Two – ORC – Lacquered Furniture : Vanity

These solid pieces of furniture by Henry Link were manufactured in the 1960s and 1970s. They can be expensive WHEN you can find them, especially if they have been taken care of through the years. The bones on these were great, with just some light wear and tear around the bottom of the legs.

The top veneer was in great shape as was the faux bamboo. I knew they were the perfect candidates to lacquer.

Southern Nell’s Gracious Living uses affiliate links. Read more HERE.

(Southern Nell’s Gracious Living is NOT a professional painting source. These are the DIY projects I’ve done at my home. The post is meant to help you decide if you can complete a project.)

How to Get a High Gloss Finish on Wood Furniture

Choosing Lacquer Paint

I’ll tell you now there are several really good lacquer paints and high gloss paints that work beautifully. Here are a few of the one’s I’ve used and can attest to their ease of application. They are listed in order of price- High to Low

  • Amy Howard – High Performance Furniture Lacquer
  • Rust-oleum – Gloss Protective Enamel
  • Rust-oleum – 2X Ultracover – Gloss
  • Krylon – Colormaster – Gloss

For this specific lacquered paint furniture makeover I used the color Seaside, in a Gloss finish by Rus-toleum. It may be my favorite finish to date.

As a reminder here are the steps as posted before.

Six Steps to Achieving a Flawless Lacquer Spray PaintFinish

  1. Thoroughly clean your piece. I used “holy cow” degreaser.
  2. Lightly sand the piece with a medium grit sandpaper- I used 80 grit
  3. Wipe away all the dust particles with a slightly damp cloth or tack cloth
  4. IF NECESSARY tape off the area you wish to keep paint free.
  5. Begin with a light coat of Lacquer or High Gloss Spray Paint – FOLLOW the DIRECTIONS on the SPRAY can. They can differ depending on the brand. TYPICALLY, I keep the nozzle about 5-6 inches from the item and apply dusting type strokes. NOTE: 2-3 Light coats (with light sanding between) will give you the best outcome. IF you get a run, wait for the paint to dry and lightly sand it away. DON’T try to correct it while wet. WAITING TIME IS between 24-48 hours depending on the brand. DON’T TRY to Rush the time between coats.
  6. Apply a clear lacquer coat for a protection and high gloss. This step is completely up to the individual. If you will be using the furniture piece often you should add the protective coat.

Supply List

  • paint – I used 5 cans to complete two tables and two mirrors
  • sanding block
  • tack cloth
  • painters tape


  • If the finish on your project starts to dimple, you’re holding the can too far away.
  • If the finish looks streaky, you are holding the can too close.
  • Always practice on before starting on your precious project piece! This is a DIY that you will improve on with practice.

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How to Recover from Spray Paint Missteps

I thought I’d share some of the pitfalls I fell into while doing this lacquer furniture project. Honestly, I fell into several just because of impatience.

  1. Waiting the recommended dry time
  2. Keep the can at recommended distance
  3. Keep a check on the humidity if working outside
1. Wait the FULL Recommended Dry Time

If you fail to wait the full recommended dry time, you will increase the chance for runs or even bumpy finish. Here is a mirror that goes in the same room with these nightstand / sidetables. I rushed to the second coat, not allow the recommended dry time, and paid for the impatience with more time sanding and waiting and reapplying.

2. Keep the Spray Lacquer Can at the Recommended Distance

Several things can cause your lacquer paint to run. One is applying too much paint at one time. One good pass along the surface, keeping a wet edge, is all you should do. Going back and forth over the same space will not give you the smooth finish you want.

A second mistake you could make that will cause runs in your lacquer paint finish is when you start with a second coat too soon. Depending on the spray paint you choose, the cure time can be 24-48 hours! That’s where patience comes into play.

The lacquered finish will feel dry to the touch after an hour or so, but you will create more work for yourself if you start your second coat, or finish coat too soon. You could end up sanding off a run like below:

3. Keep a Check on the Humidity Levels

I also had a run of very humid days in May, when I was trying to complete this lacquered paint job and meet a deadline. Although I don’t have an image of the debacle on the second nightstand / sidetable, I assure you it was impressive. I had to sand an entire side and start over. Now, that was a lesson in patience. If the humidity is up put the lacquer spray paint can down. The DIY is postponed!

High Gloss – High Shine Spray Paint Finish

The Flawless Glass Like Look

THE GOOD NEWS is that even after all the snafu’s, which I’m coaching you to avoid, I could not be happier with the flawless finish on these pieces. This is an image of the top of one of the nighstands before I put them in place. It looks like glass!

I love them in this Chinoiserie Master Bedroom. You can read about the makeover of the master bedroom HERE.

Turquoise Nightstands

You can SHOP the Home Decor Items from the Master Bedroom Makeover HERE.

More Important Tips

  • WEAR A MASK – Protect your brain, nervous system, and lungs just as the notice on the spray can directs.
  • Do this DIY in a WELL VENTILATED space just as the notice on the spray can directs.
  • Use a spray tent if available, or lots of drop cloths.
  • Place your furniture to be painted on old paint cans. This allows you to spray all the way to the bottom of the legs.

I’m now at least 7 furniture pieces completed using this process. You will improve with every DIY project. Always start small while you build your skills and confidence.

These vintage Henry Link furniture pieces are hard to come by! I do my best to keep these links updated for you, but they are one and done! So, if you love them like me, you have to act quickly! Tap the bottom of the photo to shop.

Enjoy Today!
Love y’all,

Lori Nell

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Smooth Chinoiserie Lacquer Finish DIY
How To Achieve a Glass Like High Gloss Finish on Wood Furniture
High Gloss Lacquered Furniture DIY

Comments (15)

  1. Pingback: Refinish an Old Wood Front Door - Southern Nell's

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    • Southern Nell Gracious Living


      What a great honor! Thank you, my friend, for this great feature!!!

  3. Jennifer Williams


    I have been wanting to put a high gloss finish on a small piece I have but I have been afraid to do it! Thanks so much for all your tips!

    • Southern Nell Gracious Living


      HAHAHA!! I’m here to make the mistakes for you. Hope you’ll give it a try!

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