Asked on Oct 17, 2019

Can I use shellac on my pine stair treads?

Laura CooperAbby and MattWilliam


A guy who installed some flooring for me last week said it's OK to put shellac on my bare pine stair treads and sent me this photo of the product he suggests. The product description doesn't mention that it's OK for floors. But I REALLY NEED something that dries FAST and this does. What will happen if I use this for my stairs? They don't get a massive amt of traffic. Four cats going up and down on their very soft paws and on average I use the stairs maybe 4 or 5 times a day and most of the time I'm wearing comfy, soft-soled shoes or going barefoot inside. Would I just have to re-do it from time to time? What are the consequences of using this? Surely it would look better than the bare wood that's there now.

6 answers
  • GrandmasHouseDIY
    on Oct 17, 2019

    Hi there, this would work great! I would do a couple of coats. What worries me is shellacs tend to absolutely WREAK really badly so I would definitely keep that in mind. Open some windows etc. As you said the worst case scenario is just having to reapply it every couple of years as it wears away.

    • Louise
      on Oct 17, 2019

      Thanks so much for the confirmation!! I'll get it done this weekend!!! Hooooray!!!

  • Marion Nesbitt
    on Oct 17, 2019

    I'd use poly acrylic - non yellowing kind.

    • Louise
      on Oct 17, 2019

      All the ones I've read about take many hours to dry. I don't want to have to keep my cats confined all that time. I'm looking for VERY quick drying.

  • Robyn Garner
    on Oct 17, 2019

    From an online blog: "If the treads are pine I'd suggest considering running a rug down the center of the treads. Stairs take a ton of abuse, and no matter how they are finished, pine treads will get dinged, scratched and worn quickly. The problem is that the wood itself is soft and no finish can compensate for the softness." They also mentioned that any finish on the treads can make it slippery in just socks so be careful.

    On to the shellac: "Pine is soft and responds to humidity by expanding and contracting. Proper sealing of the wood's pores is key to preserving pine; the deeper the penetration, the better the protection. You can seal and protect pine treads with a deep application of penetrating oil stain topped with a finishing coat of shellac. Shellac has been used on stair treads for many years with better results than similar types of finishes. Proper preparation is also important when preparing pine treads for finishing."

    "Staining pine can be frustrating because it sucks up the color a different rates creating a motley surface. For this reason, pine is often called a ''blotch-prone wood.'' Many woodworkers avoid this problem by not using any stain. They simply apply a clear finish"

    "...seal any knots in the wood with a coat of clear shellac; this will keep pigments in the knots from bleeding into the finish."

    You may find shellac is too shiny a finish once it's dry. You can rub it out with very fine steel wool for a more matte look. From my reading, the shellac will need to be reapplied every few years depending on traffic.

  • William
    on Oct 17, 2019

    Definitely you can. It's a great finish/sealer. Perfect for stairs. Will outlast polyurethane.

  • Abby and Matt
    on Oct 17, 2019

    should be all good as William said. But if you're nervous, try it on a small area that isn't too obvious first to see how it dried

  • Laura Cooper
    on Oct 18, 2019

    I'm a fan of Varethane for floors. I'm not sure of the dry time, but it's an extremely durable product

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