The 5 Most Common Lacquering Problems


SYMPTOM: After the prints are sprayed, a milky, white glaze appears over the prints.

CAUSE : Your prints are drying too quickly. This is normally caused by humidity levels being
over 80%.

SOLUTION : If possible, delay re-spraying until the humidity drops. If delay is impossible, re-spray the print generously; then immediately place the wet print in a covered box (such as a box for photographic paper) and let the print dry slowly, without opening the box. When using a spray gun, add retarder (available from Lacquer-Mat) to the lacquer.


SYMPTOM: Random white specks appear after you spray.

CAUSE : White specks are normally caused by dried lacquer being sprayed on to the prints. This can be from several sources, including dried lacquer forming on the nozzle (aerosol) or dried lacquer forming in the spray gun. Another possibility (if using gallons) is from dried lacquer being mixed with the wet lacquer in the gallon cans (make sure both the lid and inside lip of the gallon can does not have dried lacquer on it before sealing the can). Another possibility is that water forming in the compressor is
being mixed with the lacquer (use two water extractors).

SOLUTION : If using aerosol cans, scrape the dried lacquer from the nozzle with your finger nail before spraying. Spray the can into a empty container with a wad of paper towel in it for about four seconds to clear the stem. When using spray equipment, make sure you are using water extractor both at the compressor and the spray booth.


SYMPTOM: Small shiny circles that appear like dimples on your prints after they are sprayed.

CAUSE : Most likely these are caused by tar deposits on your print. These deposits are usually caused by dirty rollers on the print processor caused from oxidized developer. This problem is less frequent with modern chemistry, but it does still occur. These deposits are transparent and may not be visible on the prints before they are lacquered; however, because lacquer won’t stick to them, they show up later.

SOLUTION : First make sure the tar deposits are the cause of the problem. Wash one half of the print with alcohol and spray the entire print. If you get satisfactory results on the washed side, but not on the unwashed side, you should clean your processor or contact your lab for a replacement print.


SYMPTOM: A rippled or mottled effect on your prints after they are sprayed.

CAUSE : Orange Peeling is caused either by spraying too close, too heavy, or with cold lacquer. If you are using a spray gun it may be caused by your lacquer being too thick.

SOLUTION : Try spraying approximately 8" from your print and spray with a smooth, even motion, making sure you spray off the print with each pass. If your lacquer is cold (it should be 70 degrees minimum) warm it up by placing the can in a warm (not hot) bucket of water for a few minutes. Do not use a hair dryer. When using gallons, check the viscosity of the material with a viscosity meter. It should be 20 seconds with the lacquer at 75 degrees.


SYMPTOM: Lacquer comes out too glossy or too dull.

CAUSE : Only one thing could cause this problem. Inadequate mixing or shaking of the can. When the lacquer material sits in the can, the material separates (like oil and vinegar). If you don't mix properly, you will get an improper sheen on your prints. With aerosol cans, the material is drawn from the bottom of the can. The pigment that dulls the print is heavier than the lacquer, so it will spray out first causing the print to be too dull. When using gallon cans, you are pouring from the top of the can first. This will cause the lacquer to be too shiny (high gloss in most cases). As you begin to pour towards the bottom of the can, you will be drawing too much pigment and the prints will be too dull. Another cause for being too dull is the print is "blushing" (see solution above).

SOLUTION : Mix properly. When using aerosol cans, shake the can vigorously for several seconds and spray out the material in the stream into a waste jar for 4 seconds to clear any material that is in the nozzle. When mixing gallon cans, shake the can for a few seconds before using or mix with a stirring rod. Make sure any material that may be stored in a spray container (such as a Binks quart cup) is properly mixed before you spray.