Do you have problems with your polyurethane being streaky or foggy when you brush it on? Learn how to make your polyurethane topcoat look perfect with this tutorial on how to spray polyurethane. Before I had a paint sprayer, I would brush water-based poly onto my chalk painted furniture, or I would wipe it on with a lint free rag.

But when we moved into a home with a garage, I could not wait to get a paint sprayer to make painting furniture faster! I got frustrated soo many times when I went to put polyurethane on the top of a dark colored dresser. Just for it to look streaky and foggy. To start out, this is my all-time favorite water-based polyurethane. Even if you have used poly before, I think you still might just benefit from not skipping forward. The very first thing you should do when you open a fresh can of polyurethane is mix it.

See, I used to not mix my poly very well. And then one day, I ended up with foggy spots all over my fresh black painted buffet. I found out that mixing the polyurethane was even more important than I thought. Inside your can of polyurethane is some flattening agent. They use it to change the sheen from gloss to matte flat. As you can probably guess, there is more flattening agent in the matte sheen compared to the gloss sheen. The flattening agent likes to fall to the bottom of the canso the polyurethane on the top of the can has little to no flattening agent in it.

Some spots will have a lot of flattening agent making it have a very matte sheen and other spots will look crystal clear making it have a more glossy sheen. Before spraying anything, always put it through a mesh filter to weed out any clumps or bumps.

I personally use these disposable filters. Thinned polyurethane will be able to lay down better, with less texture bumps. It will also dry to a buttery smooth finish. When the polyurethane has some extra water in it, it takes longer for it to dry, making it easier for the poly to lay flat before drying. You can thin the polyurethane out the same way you would thin paint out.Is it a water-based or oil-based polyurethane? That will determine the temps. Oils can be used in much lower temperatures and higher humidity than latexes, but they're more of a pain to work with and yellow significantly over time.

You don't want to apply latexes in temperatures under about 45 degrees F. But you also don't want to apply latexes when it's too hot, either. If it dries too quickly, you'll have adhesion problems. If you want a high gloss, buy a the coating in a high gloss sheen. Gloss of a coating is mainly determined by how small the solids particles are ground. If your preferred product isn't availbable is a full gloss, you can increase the sheen of your semi-gloss by simply applying more than the recommended two coats.

Anything above 80 f. Actually the warmer the better. Mix it, if using a sprayer for the best results, as stated on can to go through the spray process. Spray on first coat very thin and wait for a few minutes for it to get tacky. That is when you do the second coat a little thicker but still not too thick.

Wait for it to dry a bit and get tacky and do another coat, all in all about 4 to 6 coats. The last coat you want to put on a bit thicker but watch that you don't get so much it runs. That should leave a high gloss shine when it dries and a very nice coat.

Before you start painting you need to be sure to get a tack cloth and get all the dust particles off as if you don't, they will show up on the finished product. Trending News. Lucille Ball's great-granddaughter dies at A warning sign for Trump at The Villages in Florida.

Virginia health officials warn of venomous caterpillars. NBA star Kevin Love's honest talk about mental health. Scientists debunk Pence debate claim on hurricanes. Many bottled water brands contain toxic chemicals: Report.Urethane, more often called polyurethane, is one of the most popular wood sealants on the market today. It follows that a common problem for everyone from woodworkers to carpenters to floor refinishers is how to make the varnish dry faster. Speeding the drying process for urethane is mostly a matter of applying some common sense and basic preparation, rather than using special additives or some other false trickery.

Buy a quick-drying urethane if speeding up the drying process is truly critical to your schedule. This choice will compound the value of whatever other steps you take, and it is the only way to improve the process by using some type of special urethane.

Alternately, you could use high-build urethane to reduce the number of coats required in place of speeding up the drying time of each individual coat.

Open up the windows and doors, and place one or more fans in them to improve air circulation in your work area.

Applying Polyurethane for a Durable, Beautiful Finish

This will speed the evaporation process, as well as improve safety by controlling fumes if you must continue to work in an adjoining room. Set up a space heater in an adjoining doorway to keep the room temperature in the 70s F if you are drying the urethane in early to midspring or mid- to late autumn. Outside of the summer months, the need to ventilate might lower the temperature in the room below the optimum for drying urethane.

You cannot speed up the drying time of urethane by adding naptha or thinner to the mixture. Any improvement in drying time is illusory.

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Do not try to speed the drying process by raising the temperature above normal room temperature. Setting up a space heater on a high heat level in a room full of wood finishing materials poses a fire hazard. By Edwin Thomas Updated December 10, Tip You cannot speed up the drying time of urethane by adding naptha or thinner to the mixture.

Warning Do not try to speed the drying process by raising the temperature above normal room temperature.Polyurethane is widely revered as one of the most durable yet easy-to-apply protective wood finishes. Polyurethanes are commonly available in both oil-based and water-based formulas, and there are minor differences between the two in both performance and application. Standard polyurethane is applied with a brush, but there are also wipe-on formulas that are applied with a rag, as well as a spray finishes in aerosol cans.

Regardless of the type you use, if your project will see a lot of wear and tear, few finishes are as appropriate as polyurethane for the protective topcoats. The decision to use an oil-based or water-based polyurethane largely depends on your project and your preferences.

Oil-based polyurethanes are somewhat easier to apply and can be less temperamental than water-based formulas. They're also a bit thicker and contain more solids, requiring two or three coats where water-based poly may need three or four. However, oil-based polyurethane finishes are susceptible to brush marks, and they take much longer to dry, which can slow down your project and possibly increase the risk of getting bugs or dust in your finish before it dries.

Water-based polyurethane versions dry much more quickly, are a bit more self-leveling, and have less odor when applying than oil-based versions.

Color is another differentiator. Oil-based polyurethane typically adds a warm amber glow to wood, particularly to lighter wood speciessuch as white oak, maple, or birch.

Water-based formulas generally are more neutral or clear. Water-based poly has a milky white look when it goes on but turns clear as it dries. First of all, stir—never shake—a can of polyurethane.

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Shaking a can of polyurethane will introduce numerous bubbles into the product that will show up in your final finish. Instead, just stir the product gently but thoroughly before each use.

can you apply polyurethane in hot weather

Apply the finish in a clean, well-ventilated area. Polyurethane takes hours, not minutes, to dry; that's a lot of time for dust to settle or bugs to land on the surface, marring the final product. Both water-based and oil-based products give off strong fumes as they dry although oil-based is decidedly worseso proper ventilation is a must.

Just don't finish your work outdoors, where you can't control dust, bugs, and other flying finish-ruiners.

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It's best to apply polyurethane to flat as in level surfaces so the finish can self-level and is less likely to drip. Minimize this problem by applying thinner coats or by switching from standard brush-on poly to a wipe-on or spray finish, both of which can be applied in very thin coats.

If you end up with runs or drips, try to sand them out when sanding between coats, or carefully remove them with a sharp razor blade followed by sanding to feather in the blemish. As you're finishing each fresh coat during application, check your work with a bright side-light. Crouch down so you see the light reflecting off of the surface. This highlights imperfections, such as bumps, bubbles, ugly brush marks, and spots that you simply missed or where the finish is too light.

You can fix these problems when the finish is still wet but not once it starts to set up. Sand your wood with at least grit sandpaper. For open-grain woods like oakash, or walnutyou can apply a wood grain filler before the polyurethane, to create an ultra-smooth finished surface. Clean the wood very thoroughly to remove sanding dust before each new coat of polyurethane, using a vacuum if available and a tack cloth. You can also use a rag moistened with mineral spirits for an oil-based poly or cheesecloth moistened with denatured alcohol for a water-based poly.

You may choose to thin oil-based polyurethanes with mineral spirits or naphtha, but for most applications, this is not necessary; check the manufacturer's recommendations on the product label. Thinning can help the finish flow into fine details and nooks and crannies with less buildup. Avoid inexpensive bristle brushes, as these tend to leave obvious brush strokes. Foam brushes are inexpensive and disposable and work well for most flat surfaces.

Bristle brushes are better for molded edges and fine details. Brush on the polyurethane so the brush strokes are parallel to the grain of the wood. Use a sufficient, but not overly thick, coat of finish. Complete each area with long, straight strokes to brush out as many bubbles as possible. The few remaining bubbles will typically disappear within moments.It seems that one of the topics I get a tremendous amount of emails about is when folks are having issues due to the heat and humidity.

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A huge number of woodworkers spray their finishes outside and in doing so, are at the mercy of uncontrolled temperatures. Spraying in these conditions can be risky business. The finish can then blister; this is most predominant in solvent base finishes.

can you apply polyurethane in hot weather

The surface dries and the air that is trapped in the pores of the wood cannot readily escape. As the air rises it must now break through the dried film and forms a blister. It is a situation where the direct sunlight is the culprit and being able to shade the surface makes a huge difference. Again, the moisture is trapped within the finish as with blistering. The solution once again is to shade the surface from direct sunlight.

If using compressed air, make sure your air is dry and filtered. Turbine systems are the best solution to ensuring clean dryer air.

Oil-based stains, because they dry so slowly, are usually not an issue. Gel stains, because of their heavier viscosity, dry quite rapidly. Water base stains and dyes can be very problematic.

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For oil base gel stains, have a cloth damp with mineral spirits ready. Work in as small an area as possible. The objective here is to be able to wipe the stain on and off before it sets. The mineral spirits will help to prevent the stain from drying as fast, but it can also produce a lighter color so often two coats are required.

can you apply polyurethane in hot weather

Just be sure to let the first coat dry thoroughly or you run the risk of the second coat softening and pulling off the first coat. Waterbase dyes and stains can be controlled to some degree the same as the gel stain. Use a dampened applicator which can help, as well as working in as small a section as possible. In the case of dyes, premixed dyes are not as good as powdered dyes that you mix yourself. Pre-mixed dyes have chemicals that speed the drying process and they are not typically just mixed with water.

Powdered dyes that you mix yourself, because it's simply water, seem to dry slower giving more work time. We have experimented with utilizing "Floetrol" which is a paint additive used for slowing the drying process in order to improve leveling of water base paints in water base dyes and stains.

Floetrol is available at most hardware and box stores where latex paint is sold. We have found it to be very helpful. Our normal mix is approximately 1 ounce to 1 quart of dye or stain.In some cases, you might find it helpful to thin out the type of finish you are using, such as polyurethane finish. The method of application can sometimes make it desirable to thin polyurethane or other types of finish.

And you may find that certain levels of humidity or heat in your work area can also make it necessary to thin out the finish. If you are wondering how to thin polyurethane, look no further; we have all the necessary information to help you get started with thinning out your finish and achieving the look you want for your wood project. If you are using hardwax oilsyou will probably not need to add any kind of thinner.

The same goes for oil finishes such as linseed and tung oil finish. Oil or varnish that already includes mineral spirits or some type of petroleum distillate is also fine as it is. These types of finishes are supposed to be applied using a rag or brushed on in a series of thin coats. Most finishes that have a water base are already thin enough. They are typically rendered thinner and liquid using either water or a commercial retardant that may contain ingredients such as propylene glycol.

Water-based finishes are popular in part because of their low VOC levels, which means that they are not as toxic as some other finishes, and they do not have as strong a smell. Because of its innate consistency, thinning water-based polyurethane is not usually necessary. The traditional finishes include lacquer, shellac, oil-based polyurethane, and oil-based varnish.

Applying Polyurethane In Hot Weather

Any of these common finishes may need to be thinned, depending on the conditions in your workshop and the final look that you want for your project. Now we are getting down to the practical steps you need to take to thin out polyurethane.

Typically, when you are thinning out oil-based polyurethane or oil-based varnish, you will be working with mineral spirits. First of all, you need to think about ratios. The usual ratio is about 3 or 4 parts varnish to one part of the mineral spirits.

However, you can go as far as half mineral spirits and half poly. The thinner the varnish, the more numerous the coats will need to be. You should allow the coats to dry thoroughly in between, and depending on the type of poly or varnish, you may also need to sand just a bit. A wiping varnish requires ten, twelve, or more coats to give a good solid coat for your project.

However, a brush-on finish that has only been moderately thinned may require fewer coats. Check and see what the recommended number of coats is when the product is at its full strength, and then add two or three extra coats beyond that. Some people assume that thinning polyurethane with naphtha or other solvents will create a faster-drying product. The process of the oxygen reaction will take the same amount of time.

Sure, you will be applying thinner coats, and they may appear to dry faster, but you will also have to apply more coats. So you are not actually moving your project along any faster by thinning polyurethane. Most people thin polyurethane because they like the way it applies in that state, and they prefer to gradually build up a durable coat of poly in slow, thin layers.

Some may also prefer the look that it yields. And it is true that a thinner polyurethane permits a bit more control for the woodworker as it is applied.

can you apply polyurethane in hot weather

Earlier, we mentioned that oil-based polyurethane is typically the type of varnish that would be thinned with a solvent or mineral spirits. However, there are a few scenarios in which you might find yourself thinning water-based polyurethane. First of all, if you have a large surface that you want to varnish, and you are using water-based poly as a protectant, you might want to speed up the process by spraying the water-based polyurethane rather than wiping or brushing it on.

In this case, you may need to thin out the poly a little bit, so it is easier to spray. You can use a ten percent additive of mineral spiritsbut be sure that you are operating within the rules for safe usage for your local area. A few states forbid people from adding any kind of solvent to polyurethane purchased in a sealed can at a store. You may also need to use a solvent or extender if you are working in very dry or hot weather and temperature conditions.We may receive a commission when you use our affiliate links.

However, this does not impact our recommendations. Exclusive for Popular Woodworking newsletter subscribers! Enter your e-mail address in the box below for a free digital guide to finishing.

All levels of finishing are burdened with myths, but the types of finishes used by amateurs and sold in home centers and woodworking stores suffer the most.

Myths about polyurethane are a good example of the problem. Slant panel? Slanting a panel 5 or 10 degrees is not the way to reduce brush marking, but this has actually been suggested recently. You would have thought furniture finishers working during the last several hundred years would have figured this out if it were true.

Oil-based polyurethane is simply a type of varnish. Alkyd is the resin used in almost all varnishes and oil-based paints. The polyurethane resin adds scratch, heat, solvent and water resistance to the alkyd varnish.

The 7 Myths of Polyurethane

Pure polyurethanes with no alkyd resin are always two-part products. They cure in several ways: With the addition of moisture an example is Gorilla Gluewith heat many common plasticsor they are packaged as two separate components that cure after they are mixed similar to the way two-component epoxy adhesives work. The two-component polyurethanes are becoming more common in the furniture industry because they perform well and have a very high solids content, meaning less solvent to escape into the atmosphere.

Confusion has been added in the last decade or so with the introduction of water-based finishes, some of which combine polyurethane with acrylic resins. Just be aware that it is an entirely different finish — a water-based finish. This article deals solely with oil-based polyurethane. For example, polyurethane and lacquer look the same, both in a can and on the wood, even though they have very different characteristics.

In contrast, woodworking is physics. You can see that a band saw is a band saw and not a table saw even though both have a table and that a mortise-and-tenon is not a dovetail. So authors and manufacturers have much more opportunity to provide inaccurate information, intentionally or not, about finishes than about woodworking tools and procedures.

Here are some of the most common myths concerning polyurethane and varnishes in general. MYTH 1: Brush across the grain first to work the finish into the wood. All finishes soak perfectly adequately into the wood no matter how they are applied.

They do this by capillary action, the same physical phenomenon that allows water and nutrients to rise from the ground to the top of a tree. The only benefit gained by brushing first across the grain and then with the grain to line up the brush strokes with the grain is to make the thickness of the application more even. But I never have a problem with some areas being noticeably thicker than others anyway.

More important, the longer polyurethane is brushed the more thinner evaporates, and this causes the finish to thicken and brush marks to be more pronounced. MYTH 2: Thin the first coat 50 percent to get a good bond. This is an old myth that probably got its start because of poor understanding of the role of primers used under paint, and sanding sealers sometimes used under varnish and lacquer. Primers do create a better bond for paint because they contain a higher ratio of binder finish to pigment.

But finishes are all binder, so they bond perfectly well without a separate product. Sanding sealers contain a soap-like lubricant that makes the sanding of the first coat easier and faster, so they are especially useful in production situations. Polyurethane bonds especially poorly to sanding sealers, so most manufacturers of polyurethane discourage their use. In fact, the only benefit gained by thinning is faster drying.

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The thinner the layer of any finish, the faster it dries, and the sooner it can be sanded and the next coat applied. A corollary is: Never wipe the bristles over the rim of the can because this will also introduce bubbles into the finish.

Sure, if you shake the can, bubbles appear in the finish. And if you then brush the finish, bubbles appear in it.

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