Best Finish Over Shellac – Top Coat & Finish Guide in 2023

Without any introduction, I would say, Waterlox is the best finish over shellac. Waterlox imparts a rich, lustrous appearance to your project without the strong odor associated with some other finishes. Waterlox is another innovation that revolutionizes finishing work over Shellac. This product allows you to apply shellac finishes while protecting the wood pores and smoothing its surface at the same time.

From the online guide, best finish over shellac teaches homeowners, DIY enthusiasts how to use finish over shellac to create a smooth, satin sheen. The guide includes instructional videos on top coat over shellac, and what finish can go over shellac.

Wax free formula strengthens the wood against alcohol, hot liquids, and moisture. Beautifully deep rich colors ensure your piece will be a spectacular focal point in any home or office environment.

Best Finish Over Shellac: Waterlox TB Original Satin Finish

The most popular of all the Waterlox Original Wood Finishes is the Satin Formula. A timeless classic, this finish will provide beauty and protection to any natural wood surface. It is easy to apply and can be applied by brush, lambswool applicator, cloth roller, or spray. It is food-safe and easy to repair.

Waterlox TB Original Satin Finish

A satin sheen appearance (20°-25° gloss level), penetrates and waterproofs when used as a finishing system in conjunction with Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish, and forms a protective yet elastic finish against common household spills, moisture, and foot traffic.

This classic, easy-to-apply finish protects wood from rain, sunlight and bleeding. Satin is ideal for kitchen cabinets, furniture, entertainment centers, architectural millwork, and a wide variety of other wood surfaces.

To get the protection, gloss and excellent color is not possible normally when you are using any other product for finishing. It is just because the combination of natural oils and synthetic oils made it possible to make it work like a magic.

With 90% of the resin portion from renewable resources, it is considered eco-friendly & protecting shellac finish. It penetrates and waterproofs when used as a finishing system in conjunction with Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish.

Non-toxic and loved by professionals, this clear finish is traded internationally.

Using pure Tung oil means no solvents or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are present in the finish for you or your family to breathe they’re chemically-singed-brain-cell-killing VOCs).

Waterlox Satin Finish Application Guide

Waterlox sealer will prohibit water, dirt, and moisture from penetrating below the finish’s surface. It is recommended to repair the wood by sealing the wood first with their Sealer prior to applying the Satin finish.

Waterlox ORIGINAL Sealer:

Waterlox H20LoX 2002-25 Sealer

When sealed with Waterlox H20LOX Formula Sealer your wood furniture is safeguarded naturally against common household chemicals including acidic foods, acne medicine, perfume, hairspray, and nail polish remover.

Tung Oil Sealer:

For a finish that’s waterproof and durable, Waterlox Original Tung Oil Finish is perfect for transforming kitchen cabinets, woodwork, floors, furniture, and more. Natural polished Tung Oil provides a satin sheen finish that will improve over time.

Waterlox Universal Tung Oil Sealer

Waterlox Original Tung Oil Finish forms a flexible, breathable film over wood.

Tung oil penetrates the wood for a clear, satin finish that is safe and easy to apply. Use the sealing satin on all unfinished bare woods such as softwoods, pine, poplar, redwood, cedar, teak and oak.

It provides a durable, rich, distinctive finish that is easy to maintain, has low odor, low VOC. The finish penetrates deeply into the wood for a beautiful lustrous finish with exceptional durability.

This high solids sealer is made with Tung Oil which strengthens the film, reduces the sheen and enhances durability to reduce signs of weathering. When used in conjunction with any Waterlox finish, it provides a durable, rich, distinctive finish that is easy to maintain, low odor, low VOC and easy to clean up.

To maintain your Tung Oil finish, simply wipe it down with an applicator cloth after each coat of Waterlox Sealer/Finish that you apply.

Thin with mineral spirits

Waterlox can be thinned with mineral spirits to make a wipe-on finish. One coat of Waterlox over a shellac coat will provide a beautiful durable finish on the wood.

Klean Strip Odorless Mineral Spirits

Some recommend adding several coats of colored Waterlox which makes the Waterlox UV stable and lets it last longer than raw tung oil or raw linseed oil on wood.

Two coats will give you a good sealer coat that will prevent the wood from absorbing stains or body oils that would compromise the appearance of your project

Best Brush for Shellac

The U.S. Art Supply Paint Brush Sets are the best brush for applying shellac. This set includes round, flat, and filbert brushes with firm and responsive synthetic bristles that allow you to create a variety of artworks. The durable sturdy gray wooden handles feature a lacquer finish to preserve the brushes and keep them looking new.

best paint brush for shellac primer

These synthetic brushes have varying thicknesses and lengths, combined with top-quality bristles for consistent application.

The Wooster Brush Floor Applicator 1/2-Inch Nap is great for use on laminate or hardwood floors. The thick nap of the brush removes both dirt and stubborn stains, giving your floor that just-waxed shine. The Wooster is designed for use with eco-friendly, waterborne products such as urethanes and stains.

Wooster Brush Shearling Floor Applicator

The US Lambswool Finish Applicator helps you apply floor finish without the mess. Made of natural lambswool on one side and wood on the other side, this applicator is built to last.

This finish applicator can be used to apply parquet floor finish or any other finish where a soft felt pad is desired. Ideal for satin, sheen, varnish, lacquer, and polish finishes.

US Lambswool Floor Finish Applicator

How to Brush Shellac

Can you spray lacquer over shellac?

Yes, you can spray lacquer over shellac. You can spray lacquer over shellac – it’ll take substantially more coats than if you apply shellac directly to wood, but it will work. The trick is to use as little as possible as you want as thin a layer as you can get with the lacquer so it really soaks into the wood and adheres well. Personally, if I’m doing an MDF project I’d just use shellac and not bother with the lacquer.

What finish can you put over shellac?

There are many different kinds of finishes that are formulated to be applied over shellac. For example, you can use an oil-based polyurethane if you look at soft the satin sheen that oil-based polyurethane can give. The great thing about wood finishes is that there are so many options available, so you have a lot of freedom when it comes to deciding how you want your finish to look.

How long should shellac dry before applying lacquer?

Lacquer is called a solvent-based finish because shellac does dissolve in alcohol, which is one of the solutions used to make the finish thinner or higher in volume percent. The lacquer can be applied at least 24 hours after shellac application.

Can you seal over shellac?

Yes, you can seal over shellac. However, the wood will react with the finish and you need to add a retarder when using a water based finish such as wiping varnish. Shellac also needs to be rubbed out really well before you apply any finish so no streaks appear.

The amount of time it takes for the shellac to lose its tackiness depends on outside temperature and how well it has been rubbed out so your experience may vary. The process of sealing over shellac is easy to do, as long as you have the right tools for the job.

Shellac works great for sealing wood floors. However, there are some extra steps you need to take if the surface is already shellacked

Can varnish be applied over shellac?

Yes, shellac can be applied over varnish. Shellac is very durable, so it’s likely that the varnish would protect the shellac. On the other hand, if you want to keep the shine of the shellac, apply a coat of very thin varnish first.

Shellac is an ideal base upon which to apply top coats of varnish.  Shellac has no tendency to raise the grain like some other finishes (such as lacquer). 

So, when you build up several coats of shellac before applying the first coat of varnish, you can create a smooth surface on which to apply your top coat of varnish.

 The advantage of this technique is that no fillers need to be used when applying multiple coats of shellac.


Can I put varnish over shellac wood finish?

Varnish is the most popular and economical clear finish for wood. (It is used as a protective layer) It has excellent “penetration” qualities. It saturates the wood deeply and helps prevent moisture from causing damage. Varnish dries to a tough, durable finish that resists nicks and scratches and can be buffed and polished to a high gloss. It is ordinarily used on hardwood floors, paneling, furniture, and cabinets. But it is recommended not to use varnish over shellac.

Is Waterlox better than polyurethane?

Waterlox is a penetrating sealer because it’s 100% pure tung oil. It restores, protects and beautifies wood while it penetrates the wood to ensure long-lasting wood protection. It provides a lasting UV barrier that allows the natural beauty of your wood to shine through. Because Waterlox is a pure, natural product, you are assured that no chemical additives are added to it. Polyurethane products are toxic, water-based coatings that degrade over time, leaving the surface vulnerable to moisture and stains. As Waterlox penetrates, it actually helps clean the pores of the wood

How much does Waterlox cost?

Waterlox Original Sealer and Waterlox Original Sealer with Fadeblocker are available in quart and gallon containers which range from 28$ to 60$.

What type of finish is Waterlox?

Waterlox Original is a high quality, tung oil finish that impresses with its rich amber color and high satin luster. It provides an exceptional wood protectant and is available in Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish and Waterlox Waterproofer/Finish.

Is Waterlox a polyurethane?

No it is not.

Is Waterlox a good product?

Waterlox penetrates deep into the wood pores, combining with the natural tannins in the wood to create a long-lasting barrier that repels water, oil and stains. It resists salt spray and humidity while enhancing the wood’s natural beauty. The Waterlox family of finishes contains no VOC’s and is safe for use in homes with children and pets.

Does Waterlox seal wood?

Yes it is.

Does Waterlox yellow?

Often, yes. But sometimes, Waterlox Original Tung Oil Finish is yellow tinted to heighten the color & grain of woods, especially walnut. It can be used to strengthen poor or damaged wood, but should not be used over another finish. The more coats applied, the deeper the color. Waterlox’s signature yellow color is a clear indication that this water-based finish contains no harmful solvents.

Do you sand between coats of Waterlox?

Waterlox Original Tung oil finishes eliminate the need to sand between coats. Waterlox penetrates into the wood’s pores and chemically bonds with the surface creating a true wood-to-wood bond that will not peel, flake or chalk. This is why there is no need to sand between coats of Waterlox.


You’ve spent so much time and money getting your floors looking their best, protect them with a finish that will maintain the beauty of the wood. This article, best finish over shellac guide will stand up to household spills and moisture and protect against foot traffic.

Waterlox Satin has nearly the same properties as formaldehyde-based finishes. Waterlox is tung oil based with some added components that allow it to cure below room temperature and prevents the curing process from exceeding a certain humidity level.

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