We have a 1912 home with mostly untouched, shellacked trim. Some areas still look quite nice, but the balusters and post of the stairs were very badly alligatored, and the handrail felt sticky. So I've just cleaned off the old shellac using denatured alcohol.
The risers are not in bad condition. There is a little alligatoring that would be nice to smooth out (you can see the natural wood through the fine cracks in the shellac). The little patch I've tried with the alcohol just takes it all off, and I'm not able to get it to blend with new shellac (Zinsser Sealcoat). Are there any tricks to getting it to blend nicely?
Also, as I was not the neatest,I found the floor was shellac, too. We need the floor refinished since it's bare wood in many places, but on the stairs (except for the middle of the tread) I'm wondering how it would sound to strip the shellac, and then re-shellac the stairs? We're planning on having a carpet runner installed after we finish the stairs (whether it's shellac or getting it sanded and waterloxed). Would I sand out the wear on the center of the treads (which would be covered by the runner)?
Our trial rooms upstairs were waterloxed, and we were thinking of doing the same downstairs. If we would waterlox the adjacent floor, would the stairs look odd being shellacked?