What to Know
This hard, shiny topcoat arrived with art-deco furniture; it now finishes most commercially made pieces. To tell lacquer from shellac, swab a hidden spot with an isopropyl alcohol–soaked cotton swab, says Eli Rios, owner of ECR Antique Conservation & Restoration Inc., in New York City. Amber, sticky? Shellac. White? Lacquer.
How to Care For It
Lacquer may be as tough as nails, but if it’s overexposed to heat or sun, it can dent or chip. Dust weekly, and wipe down as needed with a clean, soft white cloth dampened with water and gentle dishwashing liquid or cleanser.
Scrape off candle wax (or gum, or crayons) using a credit card or plastic spatula, then rub the re- mainder away with a soft cloth. To restore colored lacquer’s sheen, try car polish. “It will remove light scratches and score marks,” says Seamus Fairtlough, owner of Fairtlough Restoration, in New York City.