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Shellac, how many coats do...

Questions, answers and advice for people who own or work on houses built during the 20th century.

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Shellac, how many coats do...

Postby roush9799 » Tue Sep 08, 2009 7:29 am

I need for the upstairs hallway, and stairs going up. Traffic up there and going up the stairs will be bare or socked feet, no shoes past the front or back door in this house. The upstairs consists of three bedrooms, and two large attic/closets.
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Re: Shellac, how many coats do...

Postby ChrisF » Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:57 am

It all depends on how "thick" your shellac is, and what you're going to use to apply it.

Shellac is mixed in "pound cuts", which is a measure of how many pounds of shellac flakes are dissolved in a gallon of denatured alcohol. Obviously, the more shellac per gallon, the thicker each coat will be. If you're mixing it yourself (which will result in the most durable shellac), you have control over the pound cut. If buying the Zinsser pre-mixed shellacs, you have to deal with whatever pound cut they give you. I think their waxed shellac is a 3 pound cut, and the dewaxed stuff is 2 pound, but I don't know for sure...I always mix my own (and if you want tips for doing this, let us know).

In any case, if applying it with a brush, I'd go with a 2 pound cut. If applying it with some sort of floor applicator, thin it out a bit (maybe 1-1.5 pound). Shellac dries so fast that you an apply numerous coats one after another.

FWIW, I'm currently finishing a cabinet I built with 1 pound shellac, and it took about 8 coats (with two light sandings mixed in) to get the build I wanted. For a floor, I'd put more coats on.
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Re: Shellac, how many coats do...

Postby roush9799 » Tue Sep 08, 2009 6:08 pm

I'm using the regular clear zinsser with the wax in it. Applying it with a brush.
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Re: Shellac, how many coats do...

Postby bpapa » Tue Sep 08, 2009 6:10 pm

I just did the floors of my dining room and a bedroom using the zinnser shellac, which comes in a 3 lb cut from the can. I did the following:

One 1 lb cut of amber
One 1.5 lb cut of amber
One 1.75 lb cut of amber (the 3 coats of amber were done to get the color to where I wanted it, each one makes it a bit darker)
Two 2 lb cuts of clear
One 2.5 lb cut of clear

A total of 6 coats. You can reduce the 3 lb cut of zinner using denatured alcohol. The instructions can be found here:
http://www.zinsser.com/products_pdf.asp?ProductID=31
in the technical data bulletin (TDB)

If that is not enough coats to get the look you want, you can always add additional coats at any time, which is one of the nice things about shellac.
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Re: Shellac, how many coats do...

Postby cjd » Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:01 pm

Just curious, what type of applicator has anyone found to work best for shellac on floors?
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Re: Shellac, how many coats do...

Postby bpapa » Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:15 pm

I've used a lambs wool pad to cover large areas of wood floor along with a china bristle brush for some of the areas along the edge and other crevices that could not be reached with the applicator pad. Both the pad and brush work well. Shellac is pretty easy to work with.
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Re: Shellac, how many coats do...

Postby roush9799 » Wed Sep 09, 2009 8:04 am

I used a large brush when I did the bedroom, I put down 4 coats in there, I'll probably put down a couple more in there when I do the hallway. Like said, it's very hard to mess up Shellac, just make sure you get it spread out thin so you don't get any thick spots. If you do get imperfections, a couple more coats will make them disappear as the fresh coats sort of dissolve into the previous ones.

I didn't cut the Zinnser when I did the bedroom on the first coats, that's probably why it took a bit longer to dry, the floor remained tacky for about 2 days but it finally dried hard. I've got 12 more steps to sand before I start on the hallway and stairway, I hope to have a big night tonight. The corners of the steps are going to be the hardest to get, I need one of those corner sanders, but I don't know anyone that has one. I may have to just break down and buy one if it doesn't sand by hand very easily.
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Re: Shellac, how many coats do...

Postby Sombreuil_Mongrel » Wed Sep 09, 2009 6:07 pm

If you use the "sealcoat" shellac, which is excellent, BTW, anything less than four coats on sanded flooring isn't going to cut it. OTOH, four coats in a day is possible, giving an hour between the last 2 coats. On my TV room floor I did one coat of garnet shellac and three of sealcoat, which was a thinner cut, but dries very rapidly.-Very thick, mopped-on coats of shellac is not a good idea, as it will take a much longer time to fully dry than two coats applied well-brushed-out In humid weather, shellac blooms badly if applied heavy, and a bloomed finish (it absorbed water from the air before the alcohol evaporated) is not as durable as a properly-dried finish, even if it does return to clear eventually.
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Re: Shellac, how many coats do...

Postby chadzeilenga » Thu Sep 10, 2009 5:10 pm

I did 3 coats of Dewaxed Garnet Shellac on our original Pine trim & doors with a 2lb cut in our bedroom. The original shellac stripped right off so I was working with bare wood. I mixed mine with flakes purchased from Shellac.net. Since the finish was very shiny after the 3 coats I rubbed the finish down with a 0000 steel wool with oil also purchased from Shellac.net that dulled the finish a bit and gave it a matte finish.
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Re: Shellac, how many coats do...

Postby roush9799 » Tue Sep 15, 2009 8:03 am

LOL I lost track of how many coats I got on now. It looks pretty darn good so I may leave it at that for now. I started applying last week, I think on Monday, I put down a coat a day, but I had a day or 2 I didn't get any on.
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