Can You Paint Over Shellac?

Can you paint over shellac? The short answer is yes, but there are a few things you need to know first. Read on to learn more about how to paint over shellac so you can get a beautiful, long-lasting finish.

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Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug. It’s dissolved in alcohol to create shellac flakes, and then further diluted and sold as shellac primer. You can purchase shellac in two forms: as a Zinsser sealer under trade names like B-I-N or Bull’s Eye, or as a Deft clear finish. Either way, it dries smoothly and quickly, making it an ideal base coat for paint.

What is Shellac?

Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug. It’s used as a finish by itself or as a primer for painting. It dries quickly, so it’s often used for sealing knots and other blemishes in wood before painting. You can purchase shellac in a liquid form that you thin with alcohol, or in premixed cans. Zinsser is a common brand name.

Advantages of Shellac

Often used as a primer, sealer, or protective finish, shellac has many advantages when used in painting projects. One of the biggest advantages is that it can be applied directly to bare wood, or over existing finishes with little or no prep work. It dries quickly and can be recoated in as little as 45 minutes. Shellac also provides a good barrier against water and other stains, making it ideal for use in high-moisture areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.

Disadvantages of Shellac

Shellac has a few disadvantages. First, because it’s a natural product made from insects, it can be more expensive than synthetic finishes. It also can yellow with age and isn’t as moisture-resistant as some other finishes. Finally, shellac isn’t as durable as polyurethane and can be scratched or marred more easily. For these reasons, many people choose to paint over shellac rather than use it as a final finish.

How to Paint Over Shellac

You can paint over shellac as long as you use the proper type of paint and take the necessary preparation steps . Before painting, you’ll need to lightly sand the surface of the shellac so that the paint will have something to grip onto. You also need to make sure that you use an oil-based paint rather than a water-based paint. With the proper preparation, painting over shellac is a relatively easy project.


1. Start by sanding down the shellac. You want to rough up the surface so that the new paint will have something to grip onto. Use a medium-grit sandpaper and sand in the direction of the grain.

2. Once you’ve finished sanding, wipe down the surface with a tack cloth or a damp rag to remove any dust or debris.

3. Now you’re ready to paint! Use a primer specifically designed for use on shellac and apply it with a brush or roller. If you’re using a brush, be sure to use long, even strokes.

4. Once the primer is dry, you can start painting your chosen color over top. Again, use a paint specifically designed for use on shellac surfaces.

5. Once the paint is dry, you can protect it with a clear sealer if desired. This is especially important if the surface will be subject to wear and tear (like kitchen cabinets).


So, can you paint over shellac? The short answer is yes. Shellac is a sealant that can protect surfaces from humidity and temperature changes, and it can also provide a good surface for painting. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when painting over shellac. Make sure the surface is clean and dry, and use a primer designed for use with shellac before painting.