Sticky Shellac Problems

ReddoorOctober 10, 2013

This is a x-post from another forum I frequent, but I know there are some people here that can give some good advice.

So I've been working on restoring a pine floor and yesterday I entered the final stage of putting on the shellac. I did 2 coats of Zinser Bullseye Amber with a production date of 09/10. They went on great. Easy to apply, dried quickly and very hard. I did the recommended light sanding between coats. I decided the color was a tad too dark so I decided to put on a coat of Zinser Clear Shellac (production date of 06/2013) this morning to lighten it up. After I strained it to get out the wax (seemingly unsuccessfully) and cut it with the denatured alcohol it looked a little strange. Unlike the amber shellac I mixed up it was pretty gooey. I stirred and stirred and it got a little better. I thought twice about throwing it away and trying out a different can, but stupidly went ahead. I could tell right away it wasn't going on in the same way and it looked like I could see some globs of wax on top of the floor. Well, the color is exactly what I wanted, but now 5 hours later it is still sticky!!! I thought for a second that it might be the warmer temps and higher humidity today so I cranked on the AC and 1 hour later it's only slightly less sticky. So, do I need to start all over to fix this? As in remove all the shellac on the floor with denatured alcohol and put on 2 or 3 more coats of new shellac? What if I put on one more coat of good shellac? Will that somehow fix the stickiness problem? And suppose having the AC on does help it dry completely, is it just going to get sticky every time it gets hot in the house? Thanks in advance.

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If it does not pass a fingernail test in one week, start over. IOW if it's soft so that a fingernail can dent the finish, it will never be right.
BTW, you can't filter off the wax in shellac. You sit it on the shelf until the pure shellac floats to the top, then siphon that off somehow. The wax settles.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 9:31AM
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It seems to pass the fingernail test now. It also doesn't leave footprints when I walk across it. It's just that it's really really sticky. Makes a squishy sound when you walk across it in shoes and if you go barefoot you can really feel your feet sticking to the floor. I was just really concerned since the first 2 coats dried so fast and were really hard.

As for removing wax, I had read in several places that you could strain it through nylon stockings to take out most of the wax. I did this each time. The only thing I did different for the last coat was that I shook up the can really well before opening it.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 12:04PM
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1. The normal shelf life for shellac is 6 months, after which it fails to dry correctly. The 2010 stuff was pretty old for shellac. Anytime you add alcohol to shellac it softens back up, which is the major drawback to shellac, especially for countertops and such.

2.Once you apply the amber, you can no longer lighten it up by applying the clear

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 8:31PM
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1. Sorry. I just realized that was a typo. It was all from 2013.

2. I don't know, it seemed to lighten up quite a bit. I had read that the Zinser Clear is not actually clear, but blond and that putting on a coat over amber would lighten the color.. Only the Zinser Sealcoat is truly clear I believe. Here is just one snippet I found on another site: "Clear Shellac is not water-clear �" it has a faint, golden cast that is much lighter than oil-base finishes but lends a warm color to wood that water-base finishes cannot."

It has now been 5 days and there is still a kind of greasy feel to the floor. It seems to be getting better (it doesn't feel like I'm walking on a flytrap anymore) and in my continuous internet scouring I have found people that claim it can take around a week to dry if you put on several coats. I also don't think it helped that it has been 90 percent plus humidity here until today.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 11:52PM
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