Glazing Over Paint

A discussion of the technical challenges and steps involved in glazing over paint and topcoating with clear lacquer. January 14, 2009

I want to paint cabinets followed by a glaze. I have used gel stains successfully over stain but I have never used a glaze over paint. What type of paint would you recommend and would you topcoat with lacquer? Would a colored lacquer work as the base instead of paint, then followed by glaze, followed by finish coat of clear lacquer?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum
From contributor R:
Yes, you can apply a glaze over a colored lacquer, and yes, you can apply a clear lacquer coat over the glaze that's been applied to a colored lacquer. You can also apply a glaze over an oil based paint, and yes, you can apply a clear oil based varnish over the glaze that's been applied over the oil based paint. It all depends on which coating system you plan on using. The same process is used for water based products as well. Where you might run into problems is if you apply a clear lacquer over an oil based paint.

From contributor E:
What contributor R said is very true. I prefer to use a water borne enamel like Muralo, glaze then topcoat with a WW lacquer. After 30 years of doing finish work it took me a while to get over my paranoia of putting lacquer over anything with enamel in the name.

From contributor J:
I use a tinted vinyl base coat, spray it on and sand like primer. Spray another coat for color and then you can either glaze directly on top of it or lay down a coat of clear before glazing to help keep a cleaner glazed appearance without the glaze changing the color too much. If you glaze directly on top of it you can get some pretty heavy faux glaze effects because being porous like a primer, it soaks up a lot of glaze.

From the original questioner:
Contributor J, you put on a vinyl sealer, sand, color coat, clear coat, glaze and then a final clear coat? Is your color coat a vinyl sealer as well, or do you use a colored pre-cat as the color coat? What is your dry time on the glaze? I don't want a heavy glaze - just a hint of it in the corners and grooves.

From contributor R:
Most finishing steps could be referred to as artistic preferences. The only tried and trued way to tell what's going to work for you is to make samples before diving into the job. Glazes can be very objective, so be sure to get an approval via a signature on the back of the sample.

From contributor J:
The vinyl base coat is actually a tinted primer from Valspar that must be clear coated. It is available custom tinted or in a choice of about 50 standard colors.

So a typical schedule may be like:
1. Spray one coat of vinyl base coat, tinted to color.
2. Sand as you would any primer surfacer.
3. Spray another coat of tinted vinyl base coat to fill in any spots that you may have sanded through on the first coat.
4. Is optional, depending on the look you want. Spray 1 coat of clear topcoat or clear vinyl sealer. This will seal off the porous vinyl so when you glaze, it will be easier to wipe off the excess glaze for a cleaner "hang up" glaze effect. Beware that if you do not seal off the base coat, it will absorb a lot of glaze and radically change the color.
5. Apply glaze as desired and let the glaze dry thoroughly.
6. Spray a coat of clear top coat over the glaze.
7. Scuff the first coat of clear, and spray final coat.

The sheen of the clear coat you use determines the final sheen. This process is great for antique effects or faux finishes that require a lot of glaze to be left on the surface. I also use it for 2 color rub through finishes with the base coat mixed in 1 color for the first coat then another color for the second coat. Sand through as desired and then clear, and it's done. But it may not be the best choice for use on the routed or cut areas of MDF, as the vinyl base coat does not fill and sand as well as a more traditional primer/surfacer.

From contributor L:
May I please have the brand name and material number of the vinyl underbody you use? Also, how does it sand? Does it load up the sandpaper with little balls or does it break down into dust or powder? How is it for hiding the grain?

From contributor J:
The product is from Valspar and is called Valtec pre-catalyzed vinyl base coat. It is not an off the shelf product and must be tinted before use.

The codes on the cans read:
VUW2000 for colors made in the white base and VUC1000 for colors made in the neutral base.

It covers very well as long as you are not trying to use it to fill/hide the grain on oak or mahogany. It sands and powders up acceptably, but if you spray it too wet or rush the dry to sand time, it does not sand nearly as well and will load the paper up. I don't think it's really meant to be a filling primer/surfacer so much as part of a base coat/clear coat system.

From contributor S:
Simplify, simplify, prime with Muralo Universal (water), paint with Muralo Ultra and glaze in your corners, etc. with one of the Masters Glazes or Scumble (they have a binder in them). No clear top coat is needed. Hang them, cash the check.

From the original questioner:
Contributor J, what brand or type of glaze do you use over lacquer? I am having a tough time finding something.

From contributor R:

Every manufacturer on the planet makes a glaze that works under a lacquer.

From the original questioner:
I am looking for a glaze that will be applied over lacquer.

From contributor R:
A glaze is not a coating; it therefore needs a coating applied over it to protect it. I would not trust a glaze with a binder in it, since the binder often loses its ability to expand and contract. When that happens, the glaze will become brittle and fall off. A glaze is just an artistic means to add age to a piece of wood by the addition of a contrasting color that's applied in the crevices. It's not really meant to be a finish by itself. Hence the need to apply a coating over it to prolong its artistic appearance.

Any glaze can be applied over a lacquer - an oil glaze, a water based glaze, a solvent based glaze...

From contributor P:
My thought was to apply a clear coat of lacquer over everything including the glaze. I have been working with Sherwin Williams. They are the predominant finishing company in the area. I know there were several other companies mentioned but none are around my area. I prefer to be able to go into a store and talk to someone rather than ordering over the web or phone. I've been surprised too many times. I was hoping for something rather generic like an oil based gel stain over lacquer and then I can locate a local company.

From the original questioner:
Contributor R, I am going to give your suggestion a try. Sherwin Williams told me it wouldn't work but I thought differently as well.

From contributor R:
I would not call a gelled stain a glaze, nor would I apply it over a lacquer base coat and then apply a coating over it. A gelled coat has so much oil in it that you will definitely run into adhesion problems if you coat over it. A gelled stain is just what it's called - it's a stain, a thick hunk of buttery, oil saturated stain. All that oil in it will make it nearly impossible to dry. You obviously can apply the gelled stain on wood. The stain penetrates the wood fibers and the grain and you wipe off the excess. The gelled stain, if applied over a sealed surface, won't really dry since it can't absorb into the sealer.

You can make your own "glaze" and apply it over a lacquer coating, using an oil color like a UTC. Mix it into some paint thinner, mix a little linseed oil into the potion, stir it up real good, and apply it. When it dries, continue with your finishing schedule.

From contributor J:
Not all gel stains are the same and some can work well as a glaze. I used to use Old Masters Gel stain as a glaze and never had any issues with it at all. Zar stains are even marketed to be used as a stain or as a glaze over a painted surface. They used to sell kits with a faux graining tool to do it with. I was never happy with SW or MLC glazes. I had nothing but problems with Campbell's glaze wanting to lift off the coat underneath it, even with a vinyl sealer.

From contributor R:
Ever since the paint companies messed around with tried and trued formulas simply to appease the Feds (VOCs), nothing is the same as it used to be. With just about every solvent based coating - and I'm including plain old oil based varnishes and the Mother of all coatings, the Polys, and even the humble conversion varnishes - a simple shop made glaze or stain seems to work under and on top of all the above coatings. It used to be what was good for the goose was good for the gander, but no more. I'll continue to stick to what I know works, and works all the time.