Shellac Floor finish?

I need to refinish a hall that has Oak flooring. (I was able to remove the glued down vinyl that was put on top of the Oak with help of a heat gun and a scraper.)
I have sanded the floor and went to buy the finish. Two choices where on the shelve. Polyurethane, both types water and oil based and Shellac. The Polys advertise fast drying but stipulate to wait 24-48 hours before regular use. The Shellac seems to have a 4 hour dry time.
The house was built in the early 50's and I am unsure what they originally used. Any Ideas?
Dave
--
Today\'s mighty oak is just yesterday\'s nut that held its ground.



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Shellac is not durable.
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And I will go ahead and suggest that oil-based is going to look better and last longer. The whole 48 hours thing is for rolling heavy equipment over it, not footsteps.

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Forget shellac, oil base poly darkens-yellows, but should flow out better for a smother finish. Water base stays clear and some brands may be more durable, call the manufacturer.
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Shellac has a normal dry time of considerably less than 4 hours. I'd guess at about 1 hour depending on humidity and temperature. After this time the surface won't let dust stick to it. However this is not the cure time (the time until you can't indent the finish with your nail or get the finish to take an impression of your fingerprint) which is probably about 24 hours. If you do use Shellac make sure the can is fresh. They say three years but I wouldn't use anything over six months old.
You shouldn't be making this decision based on time though. The reason shellac is better for floors is because it gives the floor a wonderful wood-like glow like fine furniture and because it's very forgiving of preparation errors such as oil embedded in the grain. In fact if you have (say) a teak floor about the only finish that will adhere is shellac. You can use the wax-free Seal Coat and then cover with a poly finish if you like. Further advantages are its ability to hide defects and the ease of retouching a worn area (clean it and give it a new coat).
OTOH if you like the plastic look (especially in gloss) go with one of the poly's. As another poster pointed out they'll be more durable especially in a hall. However when they do finally wear you can plan on getting back the sander and going through all the effort again. Of course many people move before this happens.
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Shellac was THE floor finish prior to varnish development, polurethane is a varnish also. Shellac melts the previous coat so repair is a snap. I mix shellac flakes and alcohol for furniture finishing and expect it to last 6 months before tossing out the balance as it will never dry and harden after that time, shelf life. Zinsser Seal Coat is the only DEWAXED shellac in a can and they advertise a 3 year shelf life. It is not suggested as a finish coat but a barrier/sealer coat under a topcoat.
wrote:

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floors, it won't hold up for long at all. Not to mention, to get it to any sort of thickness to where it does last more than a few months, you'd have to put 4-8 coats of it down so all in all, dry time and application time would probably suggest going the poly route. I live in a very dry climate and shellac dries within seconds and cures within a few hours. I can't imagine trying to apply it to an entire floor without causing problems. I suppose you could add retarder to slow it down but that's kind of defeating the purpose your after. I prefer water based stuff typically only for the dry time and odor factor but for wood floors, I'd probably stick with the oil base. I myself hate poly for furniture and nice woodwork but it is about the best stuff out there for wood floors. There are varying grades of the stuff as well. I'd look for something specifically for wood floors as it will probably have more solids in it making it more durable. One that I've heard good things about, but have never used myself, is Bonakemi. Expensive stuff but evidently it's pretty good. Cheers, cc
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