Is Shellac Wood Finish Ok For Exterior?


Here are some finishes you should avoid for outdoor applications: wax, shellac, lacquer and interior finishes. They all serve well indoors but will break down quickly if you take them outside. Outdoor finishes require maintenance.


Shellac is not intended as an exterior top coat! It can be used as a primer coat in exterior situations, but is only recommended for spot priming because of Shellac‘s lack of flexibility. Even Bin white shellac primer should not be used to seal the side of an entire house, even if top coated.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is shellac wood finish waterproof?

Shellac, just as many other finishes, is not waterproof, however, it is quite water resistant. Shellac can easily withstand water for about 4 hours. Even if the surface is not wiped, the resulting faint white stain will still fade away as it dries.

Does shellac protect wood?

Shellac is a film forming finish so it protects by forming a film on the surface of our wood projects. We also learned shellac is an evaporative finish.

Is it OK to use regular shellac on wood?

When buying shellac you will run into standard, and dewaxed variations. Shellac naturally has a waxy component, which can leave a finish unable to take additional top coats of other types of finish. If it’s going to be your final finish, it’s ok to use regular shellac.

What kind of polyurethane to use on shellac?

Select your transparent polyurethane carefully, so it matches the shellac finish already in place. If the shellac has a flat finish, you don't want to use high gloss polyurethane, since this changes the look of the finish while waterproofing it and defeats the purpose of staying with a shellac finish in the first place.

What kind of wax do you use to Polish shellac?

Shellac can result in a high-gloss finish. A mirror-like glossy shellac finish is achieved by French polishing . If you prefer a less glossy, satin finish, buff out the final coat with 0000 steel wool and a non-silicon based paste wax.

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