Wooden furniture never goes out of fashion, although there are times you need to give it a refresh to make it look its best and to help prolong the life of your furniture.
One of the most common coatings is polyurethane, yet if you are taking up woodworking for beginners, you wonder how you get the perfect finish. You will need to go through several phases to get the right finish, and they can comprise dusting, cleaning, waxing, and polishing.
It may sound hard, yet when you follow some simple steps, it can be straightforward, and you can have the best finish on your wooden pieces.
Here you can find out all you need to know about applying polyurethane to obtain the best finish. (Read Best Belt Sander)
What is Polyurethane?
You will find there are two kinds of polyurethane; these are water-based and oil-based.
While they both have uses, you tend to find for the best finish and protection of your wooden surfaces; the oil-based polyurethanes come out on top.
While it sounds counterproductive, the oil ones are easier to apply. The reason for this is they are thicker and contain more solid compounds. While they take two or three coats, they can then offer a depth of shine not achieved by water-based polyurethane.
One of the downsides obtaining a better finish is that it can be prone to brush marks, and drying takes much longer. With this, you can also find you have a slight run, or there are insects and dust on the surface.
Water is faster drying and looks like milk when you apply it, yet this vanished after drying. Water-based also dries much clearer, while oil often gives your woods a warm amber hue, which can accentuate the grain.
How Do You Sand a Coat of Polyurethane?
Before going into the steps how to get the best finish. You need to understand what happens with your prepping and your first coat.
The best finish begins before you apply your first coat. Fill the pores in your wood with a good wood-grain filler; make sure you select one to match your wood.
Apply your oil-based Minwax polyurethane and let it dry. Once dried, lightly sand the surface with 220-grit sandpaper. You may find it easier to use a sanding block to keep an even pressure. (Read Best Random Orbital Sander For Woodworking)
These are the most basic steps of how to apply polyurethane to the wood, although there is more to it to get the best results.
What Happens if You Don’t Sand Between Coats of Polyurethane?
You find many woodworkers say that sanding between coats is so the previous layer can adhere to the last.
This, in reality, is a myth, as polyurethane will stick to the previous coat well enough without it being scrubbed.
You may find brush marks, yet the biggest issue is that of dust. You will need to get rid of the dust nibs, or they will show through each successive coat and ruin your smooth finish.
How Do You Smooth the Final Coat of Polyurethane?
Here you can find the full steps of how to apply polyurethane to your wood
1. Pencil Marks
As you are prepping your wood, lightly draw pencil marks across the surface. As you progress through your sanding, redraw the lines, and each time they all disappear, you can move to the finer grit.
Pro Tips: Begin with 80 grit, and finish on 100 or 120 grit. Don’t be tempted to go to 220 just yet.
2. Keep a Clean Area
It would help if you had a dust-free area. Vacuum everywhere, including the wood you are working on. Place your workpiece on some plastic sheet if possible (6-mil poly is ideal). One tip is not to begin adding your polyurethane on the day you have sanded.
3. Wipe Your Wood
Take a lint-free cloth and add some mineral spirits. Use this to wipe the surfaces you will be finishing.
One tip is never to use water. It will raise the grain, and you can find yourself sanding one more time.
4. Use the Right Tools
Depending on the size of the piece you are working on, you can find a roller a better option than a brush. Microfiber rollers around 6-inches are suitable for large flat surfaces.
Smaller surfaces, you can opt for a foam brush or wipe on poly instead of soft bristle, although there are times you have no choice but to use bristle brushes. Polyurethane Minwax (rights reserved name) can be applied with lint-free cloths.
Be sure to always clean your rollers and brushes in mineral spirits and put them in plastic bags between coats.
5. Sand with Paper and Pads
When you have each coat laid down, you need to decide which way you want to sand. You can use sandpaper on a sanding block, or you can use synthetic sanding pads.
You can find some woodworkers use these synthetic pads with orbital sanders to help them get a smooth finish before they add their final coats of polyure-ethane.
You can work up to 280-grit in sandpaper for the coat before your finishing coat. Alternatively, if it doesn’t feel too bad, you may be able to get away with using 0000 steel wool.
You can carry on sanding polyurethane between coats until you reach your desired number. Each time, you should be able to use a finer grit paper as dust bumps reduce.
How Do You Smooth the Final Coat of Polyurethane?
Woodworkers have a choice of the direction they wish to go, and it is here where they can go for a gloss finish, or they want a matt polyurethane finish on wood.
Once you reach the last coat, you will be taking more care than if you were using wipe on poly.
Again, you have a couple of ways to obtain the best look. If you use the finest grit sandpaper you can get, you will have a silky smooth finish, though be sure to use a sanding block.
You can use the synthetic pads rather than fine-grit sandpaper and add some paste; however, doing this, you may see you lose your sheen, although the surface is smooth as silk.
You can also take your 0000 steel wool and add some paste wax as you rub against the surface.
You will find finishing with polyurethane wax, and steel wool will deliver the best finish on your last coat. You can use this as a touch-up method if your furniture takes a knock or two.