Lacquers (General Info.)

The photo above shows a few different types of lacquer hobby paint. The jars are House of Kolor paint are from a local distributor’s one-ounce bottles. The spray cans on the right are from Testor’s and are “Dull Cote” & “Gloss Cote” lacquers respectively. But House of Kolor lacquers can be top-coated not only with lacquer clear coats, but also with enamel or urethane clear coats also! It is recommended that a urethane clear is used for best results.

While researching information for this section of the site, it was discovered that lacquer “automotive” paint has been labeled “non-compliant” (assumably by the EPA). This means that PPG, DuPont, and other auto paint manufacturers will no longer be making and offering pure lacquers. This disclosure seemed shocking as lacquer has never seemed to be as hazardous as most urethanes. But it is probably more of an “environmental” issue than a pure “health” issue, in which case lacquer may indeed be a more potentially damaging concoction. In any case, don’t expect to find lacquers at your local auto paint supply shop. The House of Kolor website lists distributors throughout the country and there are a number of other hobby companies also listing HOK offerings.

While most hobbyists work with enamels due to their availability, it is unbelievable the color selection and ease of use associated with House of Kolor lacquers! Here’s a quick recipe for turning out some great looking paint jobs:

  • Order some House of Kolor white (for basecoating) and pink pearl.
  • Visit Wal-Mart and pick up one gallon of lacquer thinner for about 7 bucks.
  • Strip and prime a Hot Wheels casting of your choice.
  • Apply a white basecoat of HOK paint using your airbrush. It’ll be dry in a minute or two.
  • Apply a nice coat of pink pearl being sure to cover all areas.
  • Topcoat painted body with Testors High Gloss Enamel #1814. Let dry overnight.
  • Now you can either apply one more coat and be done, or first wet-sand with 2000 grit paper before applying the 2nd coat.

Once you have all of the materials on hand, the above painting process should take about 15-20 minutes. And you’ll be impressed with the results! You could even mask off the lower half of the car before top coating and shoot the upper half with black enamel for a really wild look! Then topcoat with the same clear enamel as outlined above. The possibilities are endless! All HoK lacquers can be custom mixed with other HOK lacquers, and any enamel can be applied over them. It’s important to note, however, that the HOK lacquers can not be applied over enamels


As previously mentioned, lacquer paint requires lacquer thinner. Enamel thinner or mineral spirits will not work! And many lacquer thinners are offered in different “temp ranges.” That is, the temperature that the actual painting will be performed in. The Wal-Mart thinner mentioned above is a “general purpose” thinner and will work well in medium temperatures (65-80 degrees). If you plan to paint in colder temperatures (like 40-50 degrees) you’ll need to find a thinner with a temp range closer to that ideal. Same thing if you plan to paint outside in 90-100 degree conditions. And despite no longer offering lacquer “paint,” the auto paint supply shops will gladly sell you lacquer “thinner” still.


Klean-Strip Brand Lacquer Thinner (sold at WalMart)


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