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Micah 01-18-2011 10:53 PM

Getting Shellac Off Hardwood Floors
Hello all! I have been reading this website for a long time. I have never posted though. This is my first! I can almost always find the answer I need, but I didn't tonight. I just bought a new house and started refinishing the red oak hardwood flooring today. I have done this several times before, and I am pretty good with a drum sander and edger. I started in the master bed room this afternoon and everything went great. The floor sands easily and looks wonderful after. That bedroom floor did look a little different than the rest of the flooring in the house though, but I didn't think much of it. Well, when I moved to the 2nd bedroom, the sandpaper on the drum completely clogged up with what I think is shellac in just a few feet of sanding. The reason I think it is shellac is because after this happened I poured a little bit of denatured alcohol on the floor and after about 30 seconds it dissolves the finish. Obviously, I figured I have to get all the shellac off, since it seems it won't sand off at all, it just melts on the sandpaper. I tried to use denatured alcohol and rags, but it doesn't work very well and is very time consuming. What should I do? I am using 60 grit sandpaper as a first cut since the floors are very even and (I thought) the finish was very thin. Would a lower grit be less likely to melt the shellac and clog the paper? Will I have to use a chemical stripper?

oh'mike 01-18-2011 11:42 PM

You've got wax! 9 times out of 10 when that happens the shellac was topped with wax--sometimes lots of it.

One of the floor guys might have a better solution--But this is what worked for me---

Paint remover--a scraper and a pan to put it in---then the sander.

Shellac is actually quite easy to sand--it's probably been waxed.---Mike---

Floor Doc 01-19-2011 01:19 AM

Use a open grit paper . Careful , it could also be lacquer. We used that years ago , and that stuff will go off like a napalm bomb from the heat of the drum .
Just use the same closed grit paper to remove the scratches the open grit makes .

oh'mike 01-19-2011 05:55 AM

Thanks for clearing that up---In the old days the carpenters frequently laid the floors and then a finisher would come in and sand--

I know a bit about installing the wood but my experience with finishing is limited.--Mike--

Floor Doc 01-19-2011 06:55 AM

I built Bowling alleys stick by stick , and sanded them to within 30,000 of a inch level to get sanctioned ABC.

Micah 01-19-2011 10:25 AM

Thanks for the help guys. So, flooring doc are you agreeing with Mike that it is likely wax? I don't really know what open-face paper is? Is that like a sanding screen? I don't see anything like that in the selection of drum sanding papers at the store. If I can't find that, what do you think about using a chemical wax remover on the floors?

Floor Doc 01-19-2011 12:09 PM

Depending on the age of the house it is more likely wax .

Open cut , or grit paper looks the same as the paper you are buying , only there are bare spots in it which helps to keep it from gumming up .

You can try here .

Floor Doc 01-19-2011 12:11 PM

Depending on the age of the house it is more likely wax .

Open cut , or grit paper looks the same as the paper you are buying , only there are bare spots in it which helps to keep it from gumming up .

You can try here .

PS: Don't like using any chemicals on wood . You may end up with a bonding problem with the finish .

oh'mike 01-20-2011 07:14 AM

My floor guy keeps a lot of used sheets of sandpaper around for situations like this--

Just a word of caution---sanding dust is a fire hazard---spontaneous combustion is common--

Empty the dust bags as soon as you are done working---store the dust well away from the house or garage--Mike--

Floor Doc 01-20-2011 08:02 AM

We never turned the plug into the machine for that purpose .
Put the cord around our shoulders , and if you saw the bag start to glow we would just turn and run . the plug would be pulled out when you did and turn the drum off .:)

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