How to paint over shellac ?

For shellac painters, knowing how to properly paint over shellac is an essential skill. Whether you’re looking to refresh an old piece of furniture or create a new work of art, understanding the process of painting over shellac can make all the difference in achieving a smooth and even finish. In this blog post, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to paint over shellac, including tips for preparing the surface, selecting the right paint type, and applying the paint. So if you’re ready to take your shellac painting skills to the next level, let’s get started!

Can you use paint over shellac?

Yes, you can definitely paint over shellac. In fact, it’s a great way to refresh an old piece of furniture or give a new look to something that has been previously coated with shellac. However, it’s important to properly prepare the surface and choose the right type of paint in order to achieve the desired results. Let’s take a closer look at the steps involved in painting over shellac.

What paint will stick to shellac?

When it comes to painting over shellac, it’s important to choose the right type of paint that will stick properly and provide a smooth finish. Generally, oil-based paints are the best option for painting over shellac as they have better adhesion and durability. However, some latex or water-based paints may also work well if they’re specifically formulated for use on previously coated surfaces. It’s always a good idea to test a small area first before committing to painting the entire surface.

Can you paint over varnish or shellac?

Yes, you can paint over both varnish and shellac. However, it’s important to prepare the surface properly by cleaning and sanding it to ensure the paint adheres properly. Additionally, choosing the right type of paint is crucial for achieving a smooth and even finish. As mentioned earlier, oil-based paints are generally the best option for painting over previously coated surfaces like varnish or shellac.

How to paint over shellac ?

Materials needed: paint, primer, sandpaper, tack cloth, paintbrush/roller/spray gun

Painting over shellac can be a bit tricky, but with the right preparation and technique, you can achieve a smooth and even finish. Here’s a step-by-step method for painting over shellac:

1. Clean the surface:

Before painting, make sure the surface is clean and free of any dirt or debris. You can use a mild detergent and water to wipe down the surface, followed by a rinse with clean water. Let it dry completely.

2. Sand the surface:

Using fine-grit sandpaper (220 grit or higher), lightly sand the surface to remove any gloss or sheen from the shellac. This will help the paint adhere better to the surface.

3. Prime the surface:

Apply a coat of good primer to the surface using a brush or roller. Make sure to choose a primer that is compatible with both shellac and your chosen paint type (oil-based or water-based). Allow it to dry completely before proceeding.

4. Apply paint:

Once the primer is dry, you can apply your chosen paint using a brush or roller. Apply thin, even coats, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next. Depending on your desired finish, you may need to apply multiple coats.

5. Sand between coats:

If necessary, lightly sand between coats of paint using fine-grit sandpaper (220 grit or higher). This will help ensure an even finish and improve adhesion between coats.

6. Finish with a top coat:

Once all coats of paint are dry, apply a topcoat to protect the surface and give it a smooth finish. You can choose from a variety of finishes, such as gloss, satin, or matte. Apply the topcoat using a brush or spray gun, following the manufacturer’s instructions for drying times and application techniques.

By following these steps and using the right materials, you can successfully paint over shellac and achieve a beautiful finish that will last for years to come. Happy painting!

Should I sand shellac before painting?

Yes, it is generally recommended to sand shellac before painting to ensure proper adhesion of the new paint. Shellac is a hard and glossy finish that can be difficult for paint to adhere to without proper preparation. Sanding the surface helps create a rougher texture that allows the paint to better adhere. Use fine-grit sandpaper and sand lightly until the surface is slightly dulled but not completely sanded away. It is also important to clean any dust or debris from the surface before painting to ensure a smooth and even finish.

How long after shellac can I paint?

It is recommended to wait at least 24 hours after applying shellac before painting over it. This will allow the shellac to fully dry and cure, which will improve adhesion and prevent any issues with the new paint. However, it is always best to consult the manufacturer’s instructions for specific drying times and recommendations based on the specific product you are using.

What paint will stick to shellac?

When it comes to painting over shellac, it’s important to choose the right type of paint that will adhere properly. Here are some options:

1. Oil-based paint: This is a common choice for painting over shellac since it has good adhesion and durability. However, it does require solvents for clean-up.

2. Latex paint with a shellac-based primer: Latex paint can be used over shellac as long as you use a shellac-based primer first. This will help the latex paint adhere properly and prevent any bleed-through from the shellac.

3. Acrylic paint with a shellac-based primer: Similar to using latex paint, acrylic paint can also be used with a shellac-based primer for proper adhesion.

It’s important to note that if the existing layer of shellac is in poor condition, it may need to be removed before painting. Additionally, proper surface preparation such as sanding and cleaning is necessary for any type of paint to adhere properly.

Will paint thinner remove shellac?

Yes, paint thinner can be used to remove shellac. However, it’s important to note that shellac is a natural resin that dissolves in alcohol, so using paint thinner may not be the most effective method. Instead, denatured alcohol or a shellac remover specifically designed for removing shellac may be a better option. It’s also important to take proper safety precautions when working with these chemicals, such as wearing gloves and working in a well-ventilated area.

Can you use oil based paint over shellac?

Yes, oil-based paint can be used over shellac. In fact, it is a common choice due to its good adhesion and durability. However, it is important to properly prepare the surface beforehand by cleaning and sanding, and using the right tools for application. Additionally, oil-based paint requires solvents for clean-up, so proper safety precautions should be taken when working with these chemicals.

How many coats of shellac?

The number of coats of shellac needed will depend on the specific project and desired outcome. Generally, one to two coats are sufficient for sealing or priming a surface, while three to four coats may be needed for a more durable and decorative finish. It’s important to sand in between each coat for proper adhesion and smoothness.

How many coats of shellac on paint?

When using shellac as a topcoat over paint, it is generally recommended to apply two or three coats for best results. However, the exact number of coats needed may depend on various factors such as the type and color of paint being used, the condition of the surface being painted, and the desired finish. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for both the paint and shellac products being used to ensure proper application and optimal results. Additionally, it may be helpful to test a small area first to determine how many coats are needed and to achieve the desired appearance.

Why shellac before painting?

Shellac is often used as a primer before painting because it provides a smooth, even surface for the paint to adhere to. It also helps to seal in stains and prevent bleed-through, which can be an issue when painting over certain types of surfaces or materials. Additionally, shellac dries quickly and can be sanded down easily, making it an ideal base layer for many painting projects. Overall, using shellac before painting can help to ensure a more even and professional-looking finish for your project.

Painting over shellac requires careful consideration of the type of shellac on the surface of the wood. If you want to paint trim or a piece of furniture, then you need to use a primer before painting. The surface of the cabinets should be clean and dry, and any holes or gaps should be filled with wood filler. You can use denatured alcohol to dissolve the finish and create a clean slate for painting over the surface of the wood. Sanding the filler flush and smooth with the surface is important to ensure that the new coat of paint adheres well.


Painting over a shellac finish on a wood surface can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. First, you need to clean the surface thoroughly before starting. You can use sandpaper or a deglosser to rough up the surface and remove any dirt or debris. Then, apply primer to the surface to help the paint adhere properly. You can also use a wax-based sealer or polycrylic sealant after painting to give your project a flat or glossy appearance, respectively. Make sure to allow proper drying time between each step for best results.

Painting over shellac requires prepping the surface of the shellac before applying any paint. The first step is to determine what type of shellac was used and then soak a clean rag in denatured alcohol and rub it over the surface of the shellac. Once you have done this, you can proceed with painting the piece appropriately. It is important to prep the surface correctly to ensure that the paint adheres well and lasts for a long time.

In conclusion, painting over shellac on a wood surface can be tricky, but with the proper prep and following steps it’s achievable.

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