I have a shellac'd** floor with a protective wax coat. The lightest traffic leaves smudges and marks. I buff it, and it looks great, until the next traffic comes up.

I tried paint thinner to remove all the wax down to the shellac layer and then rewaxed lightly. No luck.

I buffed the excessive existing wax with an auto buffer. No luck (no surprise there).

Is there a "no sand" way to get the shellac'd floors back to original condition. End goal being a shellac'd floor with a non-scuffing wax protective coat.

I'm willing to go further if needed, stripping to almost bare wood, then shellac-ing, then waxing. But that seems like a nuclear option I'd like to ignore.

** A 1937 build house, so I don't suspect it is Tung Oil finished floor. I am nearly 100% certain it isn't poly.

  • 1
    More likely varnish than shellac, but easy to tell if it is shellac - alcohol will dissolve shellac, and won't touch varnish, generally speaking.
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 11, 2016 at 15:59
  • I just tried the alcohol test. It came out kind of sticky at first. But dried to be non-sticky and no effect to the finish.
    – Paulb
    Dec 11, 2016 at 16:20
  • The wax was possibly affected by the alcohol. If it removed the wax, that is the first step. once the floor is bare of wax, test again. I think Ecnerwal is correct, it is most likely varnish, although a 1937 floor will most likely be refinished during that time. I would be quite surprised if the original finish was still intact. I would figure there would spots worn bare in high traffic areas.
    – Jack
    Dec 11, 2016 at 16:37
  • Just as a mention, floor refinishers do not like recoating waxed floors. To leave just a hint of wax anywhere before applying a new topcoat would leave disastrous results. They always want to sand completely and start fresh, at least in my experience.
    – Jack
    Dec 11, 2016 at 16:40


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