Should You Put Shellac Over Lacquer?


It is a common question that people have: should you put shellac over lacquer? The answer to this question is not so simple. There are a few things that you need to take into account before making your decision. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of both finishes, so that you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

Should You Put Shellac Over Lacquer?

Yes, you can put shellac over lacquer. However, you will need to sand the lacquer first so that the shellac will adhere properly. You should also use a thin coat of shellac so that it does not crack or peel. Shellac is a good option for protecting your furniture from scratches and other damage. It is also easy to apply and remove. However, it is not as durable as lacquer and will need to be reapplied more often. If you are looking for a more durable finish, lacquer is the better option.

What Is Shellac?

Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug. It’s been used for centuries as a wood finish and sealant. When mixed with alcohol, it will dissolve your shellac more smoothly and will build your finish more quickly.

Shellac is available in different “grades.” The most common are DM Shellac ( Equivalent To Platina) and Dewaxed Bleached Shellac (Equivalent To Blond).

Shellac is invented by an English chemist named Henry Perkin in 1856. It was known in the Vedic period which is 3000 years ago and was called Laksha. It was used in Buddhist and Hindu temples.

Purified shellac consists of 85–90% pure shellac, 5–8% shellac wax, and 2–5% impurities. The ratio of these ingredients will determine the properties of your shellac. For example, a high resin to alcohol ratio will produce a more durable finish. A lower ratio will result in a softer, more pliable finish.

Shellac, The Miracle Finish

What Is Lacquer?

Lacquer is a wood finish either clear or colored and that dries when volatile solvents evaporate. It produces a hard, durable finish. Lacquer is different from varnish in that it dries when the solvent evaporates and not when oxidized such as in the case of varnish.

Lacquer can be applied over stained or painted surfaces but it can’t be applied in oil-based paint, and it can be buffed to a high gloss. It is also used as a primary finish on some woods, such as maple.

Lacquer was invented in Japan in 700BCE the first discovery is in Hokkaido, and was brought to Europe in the mid-16th century. It became widely used in the succeeding century for furniture and musical instruments.

Pros Of Shellac

There are three primary advantages of using shellac as a finish:

It dries quickly

You can apply a second coat in as little as 30 minutes. This is important when you’re trying to achieve a smooth, professional-looking finish.

It’s very thin

Unlike lacquer, shellac doesn’t require sanding between coats. This saves you time and effort.

It’s easy to repair

If you make a mistake, simply sand it down and start again. You don’t have to strip the entire piece of furniture to fix one small area.

Pros Of Lacquer

There are several advantages to using lacquer as a finish.

It dries quickly

Lacquer is a clear finish that dries quickly and can be applied in thin coats.

It is durable and moisture resistant

It’s also durable and moisture resistant. Lacquer is one of the best finishes you can use to protect the wood from moisture damage.

It is durable

Lacquer is also a good choice for finishing surfaces that will be subject to heavy wear, such as table tops or countertops.

Lacquer can be sprayed on, which makes it quick and easy to apply an even coat. And because it dries quickly, you can usually apply several coats in one day.

Cons Of Shellac

There are a few disadvantages to using shellac as a finish,

It’s not as durable as lacquer

Shellac can be easily damaged by water, heat, or alcohol.

It’s not as widely available as lacquer

You may have to order shellac online or from a specialty store.

So, should you put shellac over lacquer? It depends on your needs and preferences. If you’re looking for a quick, easy-to-repair finish, shellac is a good option. However, if you need a more durable finish, lacquer might be a better choice.

Cons Of Lacquer

It is difficult to apply

You have to be very careful when applying lacquer. It can be difficult to get an even coat and if you’re not careful, you could end up with a streaky or uneven finish.

It is difficult to remove scratches or dents

Once the lacquer is applied, it can be difficult to remove scratches or dents. If you’re not careful, you could end up damaging the finish.

It can yellow over time

Lacquer can yellow over time, especially if it’s exposed to sunlight. This can affect the overall appearance of your furniture.

Toxic off-gassing when first applied

When lacquer is first applied, it can release toxic fumes into the air. This can be dangerous for you and your family, so it’s important to make sure that the area is well ventilated when you’re applying lacquer.

Which One Should You Choose

Lacquer is a clear coating that dries quickly and provides a high-gloss finish. It’s also durable and resistant to scratches and staining. Shellac, on the other hand, is a slower-drying option that provides a softer, more natural finish.

So, which one should you choose? If you’re looking for a quick, durable, and glossy finish, lacquer is the way to go. However, if you’re looking for a softer, more natural finish, shellac is the better option.

Can You Seal Over Lacquer?

You can, but it’s not recommended. The solvents in the lacquer can eat away at the shellac, causing it to lift and peel. If you must seal over lacquer, be sure to use a very thin coat of shellac and allow it to dry completely before applying any additional finishes.

How Long To Let Shellac Dry Before Lacquer?

You might be wondering how long you should let the shellac dry before lacquer. It generally takes 30 minutes to 4 hours for the shellac to dry before you can put lacquer over it. If it’s a humid day, it might take a little longer for the shellac to dry. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s no longer tacky to the touch.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should never put lacquer over shellac that’s still wet. The lacquer will not adhere to the shellac and you’ll just end up with a big mess. So be sure to let the lacquer dry completely before applying shellac.

Now that you know all about putting shellac over lacquer, you can get started on your project! Just be sure to take your time and follow the instructions carefully. With a little patience, you’ll be able to create a beautiful finish that will last for years to come.

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Kevin Nelson

I will always have a special place in my heart for woodworking. I have such fond memories working on projects with my parents on the weekends in the garage growing up. We built tables, shelves, a backyard shed, 10' base for a water slide into the pool, 2 story fort playhouse with a fire pole, and so much more. This woodworking blog allows me to write helpful articles so others can enjoy woodworking as much as we have.

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