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What You'll Need

– paint brush – Polyurethane gloss finish ( water based ) – Polyurethane matte finish ( water based ) – stick for stirring

Step 1

The project I’m working on today was this desk( photo below). My choice of sealer back then was wax. Most of it had worn off by now and needed resealing anyway. Any wax finish wears off over time and needs to be resealed about every 3-6months.  So I figured instead of resealing with wax I would give it a few coats of new stain and reseal it to be waterproof this time.

Step 2

The hardware was definitely too fancy too. Tony gave the hardware a quick spritz of black spray paint to match the look I was going for.

Step 3

To stain the desk I mixed a combination of 1 part aged oak gel stain, 1 part cherry gel stain, 1/4 part of gunstock, and 1/4 part of golden oak. Experimenting with custom colors of wood stain is my favorite. As long as they’re all the same base you can combine the colors with no issues. At least in my experience I’ve never had an issue. If for instance one is waterbased and the other is oil based you would have a problem. They wouldn’t mix. After applying the stain onto my desk I letting it dry overnight. I was ready to seal the next day.

Step 4

Here’s the method I use to seal all my wood projects. Start by stirring your gloss finish polyurethane. Never mix as it creates more bubbles in the sealer.

Step 5

If you look close the photo below shows a bit of green on the tip of my brush. That’s because I used it to paint my dresser and even though I washed it what seemed like really good the polyurethane still brought up the color to the top. I got slightly a greenish tinted finish because of this but it wasn’t noticeable at all so I decided to keep using the brush because I didn’t have anything else on hand.

Step 6

Keep in mind even though this will give you a waterproof finish this isn’t intended for outdoor use. Or at least I haven’t tested it outdoors. All the furniture I’ve tried this sealing method on have been used indoors. This is intended for high traffic areas with little kiddos which might get a ton of water spills etc.

Step 7

The application process is really simple. Don’t overthink the tiny bubbles. They actually settle in really nice once it starts to dry. Avoid over brushing when applying the polyurethane to keep the bubbles at bay. I try to do long brush strokes only going over the same areas 3 times at most. Don’t rush, take your time. Start on one side of your top and work your want to the other side.

Step 8

It will look pretty milky while wet and don’t let this freak you out. It dries completely clear. Photo below shows areas that are dry and some areas that are still milky because they’re wet. HOW MANY COATS DO YOU NEED?! I like to do two coats of clear gloss polyurethane finish on the top of my tables. You can do three if you’d like but in my experience two is more then enough.

Step 9

So I usually wait about 30 minutes to an hour between coats.  On a warmer day it dries a lot quicker. In general if it’s not looking milky then it should be ready for the next coat. Also I never sand between layers even though some bottles say on the instructions to sand between coats.

Step 10

You’ll notice the matte is even more milky then the gloss finish. This is because it has more powder in it to keep it from being shiny. This next brush I used was even cheaper then the previous creating even more bubbles because it’s too soft but I knew most of them would settle in. I love varathane for this reason. By the way if your a minwax fan there water based sealers work just as good. I’ve tried this same technique with that brand and was just as impressed. ( Ps. Neither one of these companies are sponsoring this DIY I truly enjoy using there products and find them durable )

Step 11

Here’s an example showing how the matte is drying on the gloss. ( photo below)  You can see how much less sheen it has compared to the gloss.

Step 12

Another quick photo showing how bad the brush stroke look before dries. They settle down so nicely once it dries. It almost looks like I spray painted the finish on.

Step 13

And the rest of the desk I just went over real quick with one coat of matte finish.

That’s it! So EASY to do! I hope you find this as helpful as I have over the years! Don’t know what I would do if I didn’t accidentally try this one day while messing around with finishes!

Tilted Brush Stroke