Shellac or varnish?

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On 2008-03-10 19:33:56 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com said:

You can put almost anything over shellac. If you want it to be water proof, I would suggest spar varnish.
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Ronald Warshall wrote:

Spar varnish isn't particularly waterproof. It has a higher oil content so it is more flexible than regular varnish (though not as hard) so that it can better deal with the wood movement due to humidity variations. It also has UV inhibitors for outdoor use.
I'm not sure that it has any real advantages for indoor use.
Chris
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My goodness! Whatta canna worms!
However, the discussion has been very useful. From the links you provided and the information in the posts, I have deduced a few deductions:
1) Shellac may be a good water vapor barrier, but not a good liquid water barrier when in contact with liquid water, such as condensed shower steam.
2) Shellac is not flexible, hence is vulnerable to repeated expansion/ contraction cycles, and this is just what one would expect in the bathroom doors, with repeated humid/dry, cold/warm cycles. Maybe my finish was developing microcracks and allowing water beneath the finish.
3) nailshooter41 guessed right, although I didn't "use Zinsser (or similar) products off the shelf", I am "not a full time finisher, because" I DID "mix dewaxed shellac just to use in a bathroom". Dewaxed orange shellac, purchased from Mr. Paddy Olguin, 2-lb cut in denatured alcohol, three coats. Took fer-f****n- ever, but it sure looks nice (except for the doors, of course).
4) Recoating with shellac, although probably pretty easy, is probably not the best thing to do.
SO, I will recoat the affected areas (2 big doors, 2 medicine chest doors, and various trim) with some kind of varnish, but not spar varnish. I would prefer to use a less toxic varnish, and I know that the technology has improved markedly in the past few years, as we have a water-based floor finish that has held up extremely well on our red oak floors. Any suggestions on finishes?
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On Mar 11, 8:31 pm, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

LMAO. I like the constructive nature of this thread. Everyone is civil, and a lot of good information has been brought to light by different folks.

I stand corrected. And I hope you understand my comment was not meant to offend by any means. Many "non pro" guys turn out great finishes because they take the time to do all the steps where a pro (ahem..) might be inclined to skip one if possible.

Paddy!? Recently? I thought he retired completely to start another venture and to play with his grandkids. Do you have a recent link or phone number?
Next time you make a batch up, put the mix in a container with the top barely screwed on and put the container in a warm water bath. You will take days off the dissolution. Remember that homebrew shellac has a relatively short shelf life after mixing with alcohol, but will last forever as flakes.

Ahhh.. but it is. Now shellac will shine for you if you let it. Sand off the rough spots on your doors and coat them with the Zinsser "sanding sealer" which is a dewaxed shellac. This will resolvate into the existing shellac finish making ti stronger, and provide a bondable film for your next coating. It will help you negate the effects of the floating nasties that bathrooms have on surfaces such as hair spray, spray deodorant, air fresheners, candle soot from those nasty potpourri smelling candles, etc.
Then apply your new finish coat.

There is no point to spar in the bathroom. Doubtful your conditions are actually THAT extreme.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that water based finishes aren't just as toxic as the solvent based choices. Just because they have water in them makes them sound benign, but they use ammonias, formaldehydes, and other nasty things as their solvents.
If you will search around you will find that almost without exception these days it is accepted that ALL dried finishes are quite low in toxicity, and at that, you would have to ingest them for harm to be done.
I personally think the finish will come down to personal preference. Brush guys have their favorites, and spray guys have theirs as well.
Still, for a bathroom, as others here have said, I would use polyurethane. My choice would NOT be water based poly (I would rather breathe fumes from solvent than ammonia) but solvent based stuff. Most are pretty good, and they all go on about the same so I wouldn't spend a lot of time finding on particular brand. Benjamin Moore makes a good one, as does Sherwin Williams.
At the big boxes you can get the Flecto products which are quite good. Even good old Deft makes a nice one called Defthane.
All of them spray, brush and pad well.
Others will have their thoughts as well, and may be able to get you exactly what you want.
As always, just my 0.02.
Robert
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On Tue, 11 Mar 2008 21:01:29 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

And Watco has a wiping poly that's worked well for me.
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I splattered some shellac on my glasses last weekend. It has not come off in the shower after 4 days of washing it.
Tonight I tried soaking in a glass of beer. It still hasn't come off. I guess next I'll have to move up to the vodka.
So, at the very least, I'd say it's pretty waterproof.
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