I was recently given about 150 sq feet of pre-finished oak engineered plank
flooring(veneered) in a natural clear finish. It would match my 100 year old
floors perfectly if it had a bit of an orange tint to it. Would it be
possible to put two coats of orange shellac on top of the current finish, I
assume it's poly, and then top it with two coats of poly?? I tried some
shellac on top of the current finish today and it goes on fine, just
wondering about the long term.
Poly does not stick to anything, not even itself. That is why you need to
"scratch-up" between each coat of poly with 220g paper, that way the next
coat of poly has something to "bite" into. If you have ever recoated poly
without a few swipes of 220 between coats, it will sometimes "delaminate"
and peal off. Shellac (like lacquer) on the other hand just melts into
itself, no matter how many coats you put on, it is really only one coat. But
that is not the reason why it won't work, the poly is just to slick for the
shellac to adhere to.
Go with the tinted Minwax Polyshades.
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Overcoating an existing finish is always risky. There is always the
chance for delamination. Here's something that might work though:
1. Clean the existing finish really well with something like dilute
Murphy's Oil soap to get all the dirt and grease off.
2. Sand with something fine like 320. This will help to provide a"tooth'"
for the overcoat layers. Do not use stearated paper.
3. Wipe down with naphtha or mineral spirits to remove the dust and any
4. Spray, do not brush, a dust coat of dewaxed shellac. Zinnser now makes
Seal Coat which is a dewaxed shellac. Brushing might stir up any remaining
oils and other contaminants to the surface which would undo all your hard
5. Spray a finish coat of dewaxed shellac. I like the idea of using
colored shellac for steps 4 and 5 as I prefer to build up the color in
sealed layers. This tends to give the wood a stained glass appearance as
opposed to putting all the color in the top coats. Polyshades tends to have
enough pigment and possibly dyes that the grain can be obscured pretty
quickly. The top coats will also provide a little protection to the color
if the top gets scratched.
6. Lightly scuff sand the shellac finish coat. Again, this is to provide a
"tooth" for the finish coats.
7. Apply the top coats. Spraying is preferred but brushing can be done if
you are putting polyurethane or varnish on top of the shellac. Don't forget
to scuff sand between dried coats of polyurethane or varnish. I've never
had much success with applying a second coat within the window suggested by
Assuming you do not have a spray gun, your major equipment issue might
be the sprayer. Using things like a Preval or Crown Spra-Tool could get
expensive with 150 board feet. A Critter gun is the next step up but you
will need a compressor or a truck inner tube to provide an air source. On
the other hand, this might be a good excuse for you to get an HVLP spray gun
if you don't already have one.
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