Elisha Albretsen

Why We Love Dewaxed Shellac

Elisha Albretsen
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Duration:   6  mins

Dewaxed shellac is a must-have in your finishing cabinet. It’s almost too good to be true. One of the biggest benefits of dewaxed shellac is that it’s compatible with ALL other finishes, from paint to polyurethane to lacquer, water-based or solvent base.

The product we’re using

The dewaxed shellac we both use is Zinsser Sealcoat. Although it’s called Sealcoat, look closely at the label and you see that it’s 100% dewaxed shellac.

Waxed vs. dewaxed

It’s imperative that you use the right product. Some shellac has wax in it. When you’re using shellac as an undercoat or sanding sealer or seal coat, intending to put another coat of finish over it, it must be dewaxed shellac. Top coats may not adhere to shellac with wax in it.

How we use dewaxed shellac

Here are some examples of spots where we find dewaxed shellac indispensable:

Refinishing a project. If you don’t know what the existing finish is, start with a coat of dewaxed shellac. It’ll stick to any existing finish, and whatever you want to use as a topcoat will stick to the shellac.
Under paint. Latex paint can raise the grain on wood. Put on a coat of dewaxed shellac before painting to eliminate that problem.
Seal knots. Knots, especially in pine, can bleed through painted surfaces. Seal knots with dewaxed shellac before painting.
Under water-based finish. Like paint, water-based clear coats will raise the grain. Do a seal coat of dewaxed shellac so the water-based finish never touches the wood. Shellac also adds a nice amber tone that water-based finish doesn’t have.


Give dewaxed shellac a try. You can brush it on or spray it on. It’s always a good idea to experiment with new finishing techniques before trying those techniques on a project. There are lots of good ways to do quality finishing on your projects. Find one that works well for you.

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