When to Use Shellac Wood Finish

For creating a fine wood finish on your indoor furniture there are so many materials available. Apart from the usual stain, varnish or paint, there is also wax, polish and shellac. Shellac is not suitable for use on outdoor furniture because it is not in the least bit water resistant and it will no protect the wood at all.

When to Choose Shellac

Shellac has very fast drying properties, so it is not as susceptible to surface dust that oil based or slow drying coatings will be. Shellac can be brushed on or wiped on with a cloth and it also comes in many different forms. If you need to have a coating on your furniture which will be retardant to heat (not fire) shellac is a highly suitable option. If furniture is kept in a sunny room, a shellac finish will help to prevent sun damage.


Shellac also offers a more natural finish to wood, as opposed to some stains, dyes or varnishes. It brings a luster to the surface of the wood and dries in a hard forming way that creates a firm film over the surface for extra protection. Whilst you can buy oil based shellac as well as water based and powder, oil based shellac will in fact deepen the tone of the wood and darken its color. Choose the shellac you want, carefully. Decide on what effect you wish to create before you purchase it.