Can Shellac be used over Polyurethane?

arch123March 24, 2012

We moved into a house with pine floors. I need to clean up some of the floors.

I would like to steel wool and then reseal these floors. Can I use Shellac over the Polyurethane? Really I'm not that sure if poly or shellac are on the existing floor. Is there a way to tell?


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Shellac will always dissolve with alcohol, meaning that if you can soak a rag in denatured alcohol and rub off the finish to the point where it changes the sheen [dull] than it's probably shellac. If it's poly I suggest staying with poly. It might also be old style [oleoresinous] varnish, depending on the age of the finish. Does it scratch easily? If it has maintained it's shine pretty well it's probably poly and i would test a spot before shellacing the whole floor.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 3:39PM
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Great advice - Thank you

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 4:53PM
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The problem is that denatured alcohol will also disolve water based finishes and many floors are being finished now with water based topcoats. It will take a bit more elbow grease though to dull the sheen of a water based finish though with alcohol. I think it is highly unlikely though that your floors are finished with shellac unless it's an old finish. Also, why use steel wool? Just sand it.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 5:57PM
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