How Long Does Shellac Take to Dry?

We research in-depth and provide unbiased reviews and recommendations on the best products. We strive to give you the most accurate information. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

The answer to the question of how long does shellac take to dry depends on the type of finish you’re aiming for. You can go for a thin layer or a thick one, depending on the desired result. The thinner the layer, the easier it is to apply the finish. As a rule, thin coats are recommended, as they are easier to work with. For example, a pound cut is made with four ounces of dry flake and a quart of denatured alcohol.

30 minutes

The amount of time it takes to dry a coat of Shellac is usually dependent on several factors. The rate of drying depends on the temperature of the surface, as warm temperatures cause the Shellac to dry faster than cold ones. You should check the manufacturer’s recommended drying temperature range. High humidity or low humidity can increase the drying time. However, if the temperature is not too high, you can use a warm room to apply the shellac.

Generally, three or four coats of Shellac are sufficient to protect wood from the elements. The first coat will seal the wood while the subsequent coats will give you the opportunity to sand and level the wood. You should only sand between coats if you find an imperfection that you want to fix. Be sure to wait at least 30 minutes between coats and avoid waxing immediately after the last coat is dry.

3 years

Shellac is produced from tree sap, by the lac insect, and is a byproduct of the tree’s life cycle. The insects live for about six months, during which time they create lac cocoons and swarm in great numbers. After fertilization, females greatly increase the amount of lac produced. The female bugs then become inactive, and their lac-covered bodies slowly dry. The young bugs then break through the crust, and lay their eggs to provide the bug population with a future supply of lac.

When purchasing shellac, make sure to buy a jar that is labeled with the date of manufacture. Once dissolved, shellac begins the process of esterification. To extend the shelf life of shellac, you should test the mixture on a scrap piece of wood to make sure it is still good. Shellac that is more than three years old can be reused by making tack cloths or other uses.

2 coats

The shellac finish is very durable, but it does fade and dull over time. It also deteriorates if exposed to high humidity and water. For this reason, it’s best used on decorative wood items. This finish is not appropriate for furniture or other high-use items. Two coats of shellac take approximately 2 hours to dry. You can also apply multiple, thin coats to get the desired look.

When applying two coats of shellac, you’ll want to allow at least an hour between each coat. Generally, this will take about thirty minutes under normal conditions. You’ll want to allow the first coat to dry completely before applying the second coat. The next coat should also dry completely before you apply it. If you’re working on a small project, it’s best to leave it for at least an hour before adding a second coat.

4 coats

When applying 4 coats of shellac, you can expect to wait about four hours for each one to dry completely. The process begins by mixing shellac flakes with denatured alcohol, and letting the mixture sit for 24 hours. To speed up the drying process, warm the denatured alcohol to a comfortable temperature. Then, strain the solution through a cheesecloth or paint strainer. If impurities are found, remove them before applying the final coat.

Read More:   Drill Bits For Stainless Steel

If you have a clean surface, you can start by applying a thin layer of shellac to the wood. Then, lightly sand it with 400-grit sandpaper. If you would like a satin finish, you can use #0000 steel wool or a non-silicon-based paste wax. Use a paper towel to dry the final layer. Don’t use a cloth with a high-lint content, as it may leave a residue.

5 coats

The first coat of shellac should dry within thirty minutes. If the shellac is too tacky or remains wet after a few minutes, discard it. Generally, shellac dries in about an hour in 50-70 percent relative humidity. A minimum of two hours should be allowed between coats. This allows the shellac to dissolve into the previous coat. It is also easy to recoat. A light cut usually works best.

If the shellac is not hardening quickly, it is probably because you are applying too much. To get a great finish, apply several thin coats. You can test the shellac by sanding the wood with 400 or 320-grit sandpaper. Apply the next coat in three to four hours. When the topcoat is dry, sand lightly.

6 coats

While shellac takes minutes to touch-dry, it takes longer to dry completely and fully set. The thicker the coating, the longer it takes to dry and cure. Moreover, thicker layers also require more between-coat sanding. Thinner coats are easier to work with and give the surface a high-shine finish with little rub-out. You can even use alcohol to level uneven areas.

Once the surface is primed, you can start applying the final coat of shellac. The first coat is used to seal the wood and subsequent coats are for leveling, sanding, and re-finishing. If there are any imperfections, sanding between coats is only necessary after applying the second coat, otherwise it will damage the finish. When applying the last coat of shellac, be sure to allow the previous coats to dry completely before sanding them.

7 coats

Applying 7 coats of shellac is the most difficult part of the project, but it’s also the easiest. To get the best results, you should apply the shellac in thin layers. Too thick of a coat can cause the paint to peel off and crack. Applying a few coats at a time will ensure that the surface is protected. A thin coat of shellac will take about 2 hours to dry, but a thick one could take months.

The first coat of shellac will dry quickly if it’s a thin layer and 70-80 degrees. After the first coat, wait about an hour or so before applying another one. The second and third coats should be equally thin. During this time, the first coat may not dry completely. Once you finish applying the third or fourth coat, allow the second coat to dry. Then sand your surface again and apply another thin coat. Then wait an hour or two for the last one to set.

8 coats

Once you have a surface clean and smooth, you can apply several coats of shellac. You can apply thicker coats, but they will take longer to dry and will require more sanding in between. Thinner coats are easier to apply and will provide a sheen without rubbing off. Once you have completed a shellac application, you can sand the surface to remove any excess shellac.

Using a coffee grinder will reduce the amount of shellac you need by a third or even half. Use a paint strainer or a piece of cheesecloth to catch any impurities. If the mixture is too thick, you can add more shellac to adjust the dry time. If you are using the shellac to finish a wooden surface, you should apply about eight coats in eight hours.

Read More:   How to Cut Small Circles in Wood

10 coats

If you have a project requiring many coats of finish, shellac should be applied in the last few steps. You can apply three to four coats of the clear sealant to ensure a lasting finish. You can use a brush or a cotton rag to apply the shellac. A thick coat of shellac takes longer to dry and may require more between-coat sanding. Thin coats require less work and rub-out. When applying shellac to a large flat surface, a one-and-a-half-pound cut of the brush will help minimize the chance of brush marks.

When applying shellac, allow the first coat to dry for up to 30 minutes, and reapply it. Shellac is touch-dry within a few minutes, but it does require more drying time. The first few coats of shellac should dry within a few minutes, while thicker applications may take a few hours to dry. If you are applying 10 coats, allow them to dry for about 10 hours each. The last coat should take between one and three hours to dry completely.

12 coats

When applying twelve coats of shellac to a project, you must remember to allow enough time for each coat to dry. In the 70-80 degree range, a thin layer of shellac should be dry after half an hour or less. Shellac does not dry to a solid hard surface, so you should allow an hour of drying time between coats. A light cut or padding on works best.

Another way to apply shellac is by ragging, also known as French polishing. To apply ragging, a cotton wad is wrapped inside a lint-free rag with a rubber band. This rag is made of a piece of fabric with a rounded end, which helps to apply the shellac in figure-eight strokes. After applying a coat of shellac, it is important to sand the surface with 320-grit sandpaper to remove any residue.

Why trust Handyman.Guide?

s written by Itamar Ben-Dor, who has 25 years of experience in renovations, carpentry, locks, creation, landscaping, painting, furniture construction, and furniture renovation, works with concrete, plumbing, door repair, and more.

Itamar Ben-Dor has been in the home improvement business for over 25 years. Itamar Ben-Dor is a jack of all trades. He's worked in the renovation field for years, doing everything from locksmithing to carpentry. He's a small repairs specialist. But his true passion lies in furniture construction and renovation - he loves seeing old pieces come back to life with some new woodwork or a fresh coat of paint.

He has taken courses on many topics in these fields at professional colleges in Israel. Over the years, Itamar has also become quite skilled in gardening, carpentry, and renovations. He's worked on projects of all sizes, from massive renovations to small repairs. No job is too big or too small for him!

Disclosure: participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for publishers to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.