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What’s The Difference Between Lacquer, Varnish, Polyurethane, And Shellac?

By on May 13, 2021
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You’ll get a better, more controllable result minwax vs varathane polyurethane with separate stain and seal steps.

minwax vs varathane polyurethane

If you choose to use a roller, make sure that you begin by dampening the roller with some mineral spirits. The important thing to remember here is that you don’t remove any more material than necessary. A single coat of polyurethane is not very thick, and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to sand through to the bare wood. This danger is especially present when doing the first coating. Use light strokes and fine sandpaper to ensure you don’t go too far. The following are the factors to consider while buying the water-based polyurethane.

Stain Then Poly, Or Stain With Poly, Or Something Else Entirely?

You will need to consider whether you would prefer an oil- or water-based polyurethane spray, how long it will take to dry, as well as the end-result. Most people tend to try to apply their polyurethane with a brush, which can make it more difficult to achieve a perfect finish. This is because the act of stirring the paint or wiping the edge of the can with the brush will result in bubbles, which will show in the final finish. To avoid bubbles when brushing polyurethane, you have to work slowly and precisely in order to ensure a smooth and even surface. The incorrect brushing technique can also trap moisture in the paint, resulting in a cloudy, white finish as opposed to one that is crystal-clear. It is a fact that polyurethane (and more so the oil-based form) will take more time than polycrylic to dry.

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I hate the look of stain on pine because it reverses the colouration, in that it turns the soft lighter wood dark and the harder rings stay light. IMO you want to seal the pine with a shellac and then sort of glaze it with a poly stain. Pre stain conditioners are used for woods like cherry, and maple, which can have severe variations in color due to the way they grow. For these an additional step between sanding and staining is recommended – applying a layer of a sealer.

Time To Prep

A water-based product might require additional coats but are generally considered a safer option. Formulated to be one of the more durable and hardest top coats currently available. It’s a PolyAcrylic blend that contains UV stabilizers that prevent it from breaking down in sunlight and causing the stain to fade. It also has a durability that’s strong enough to allow it to be used on floors and can be thinned if necessary.

  • Given this, please assume that any links leading you to products or services are affiliate links that we will receive compensation from.
  • It could very well cure over time but depends on how much time you have to give.
  • The coating after drying up does not impart the wood color.

It is just that this is carried by the water to make it easier in a number of ways. Waterborne polyurethane dries very quickly because as the water evaporates the microscopic particles of polyurethane are able to cure very fast. It can be bought in all finishes, from matte to gloss. And, it can be sprayed on, brushed on, or even wiped on. The wipe on is usually a thinner mix to allow for better leveling. If the Poly, is brushed on, a natural bristle brush is best to avoid bubbles that could form from a foam brush.

Unfortunately my friend, your Urethane is half way into the trash. A skin and chunks are signs that the finish has already started curing in the can. Varnishes cure via oxidation, which means air is your worst enemy. So either the can wasn’t sealed well enough, or the little bit of air that was trapped in the can was enough to keep the curing process going.

Water-based finishes are less flammable and don’t contain harmful VOCs. And when it comes time to clean up, all you’ll need is soap and water. The application process can be tricky, so you’ll need to brush up on your skills. Here’s what you should know before attempting a polyurethane finish. I thought your Waterlox floors were pretty but using the stain with the poly makes them look very rich. So since Minwax + pine never worked for me, I had to find other options.

Wood Improve

The spraying method is the fastest means of covering a surface; some finishers will spray six or more applications of lacquer within an eight-hour workday. Professional wood finishers, who work on fine wood furniture, almost exclusively use lacquers. This exclusivity has occasionally prompted a condescending snicker or two in professional circles when discussing the merits of lacquer over polyurethane. While I kinda agree with Defcon about furniture finishes, floors need polyurethane, especially in a high use area such as a kitchen and if you have kids and/or dogs.

For water based applications, I often use a box store product like Minwax polycrylic, wipe on polys, or General Finishes Enduro. It depends on the intended use and sometimes profit margins. If it is a wall hanging piece that will likely be left alone, or if I am on a very tight budget, I’ll go with a box store product. All other times, I’ll opt for a General Finishes product. The main difference between water- and oil-based products is the appearance of the finish.

The protection in hardwax oil results from the oil and wax formula in the product. Due to the wax, liquids bead up on the surface and make for easy cleaning. Most hardwax oils will harden the surface slightly, however, the final hardness of the finished surface is dependent on the wood species used. Due to the low-sheen, light scratches on the surface are not easily visible. Hardwax oils offer the advantage of applying color during the finishing process.

Author: Kay Burton

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