Common Shellac Myths
Zinsser booklet revised 2004, first published in1913 and reprinted seventeen times throughout the years.
Shellac is made from bugs or bug droppings.
Shellac is a resin secreted by the lac insect
to form a cocoon, much like a silk worm.
It takes about 100,000 lac bugs to make
1 lb. of shellac resin.
A shellac finish turns white
when water touches it.
Fresh shellac is remarkably water-resistant
and, in most cases, will stay clear after hours
of exposure to water, making it a great finish
for most interior surfaces, including woodwork, trim,
doors, cabinets, paneling, floors (yes, floors!) and furniture.
Shellac scratches easily and is very brittle.
Shellac is a durable finish that is much less brittle than lacquer and does not scratch as easily. Unlike polyurethane, a damaged shellac finish can be easily touched up or renewed by applying another coat.
Shellac turns an ugly dark color as it ages.
Shellac is UV-resistant and does not yellow or darken with age. The dark shellac that people see in older homes is a less-refined version of shellac that either was naturally dark or was tinted by contractors when dark wood colors were preferred in the early 20th century.
Shellac is incompatible with other finishes.
Shellac will adhere tenaciously when applied over almost any other type of finish. When used as a sealer under certain polyurethanes, regular shellac may not be compatible because it contains a small amount of natural wax. To seal wood before applying polyurethane and other finishes, Zinsser developed Bulls Eye® SealCoat™ a shellac-base universal sealer that is 100% wax-free.
Shellac is an old-fashioned, outdated finish.
Shellac has more modern features and benefits
than any other wood finish in the world.
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