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Polyurethane vs. Polyacrylic

Has there ever been a time where you were SO frustrated that you wanted to pull every single hair out of your head one by one? I know that sounds a little dramatic but I felt like doing that during this particular project.
I had this idea to take a coffee table and make it unique by adding a pretty stencil to the top. I worked so hard to get that stencil just right. After it was finished, I patted myself on the back because I was in love with the finished look. I went to Home Depot to buy my protective finish. (This was the was the first WHITE pieces that I had done without a wax finish). I asked one of the workers in the paint section, who later I found out worked in LUMBER so he knew nothing about paint, what his recommendation would be and he gave me this:
which turned my beautiful crisp white paint into this in just a few days:

I know it’s kind of hard to tell in this picture but the white was turning YELLOW right before my eyes. I couldn’t believe it, all my hard work getting this table to this point for it to be ruin with the swipe of a brush AND THE WRONG PRODUCT!

I went back to Home Depot and talked to Mike, the Painter Pro, and told him what happened. He couldn’t believe that someone would recommend polyurethane for my WHITE project so he hooked me up with all of the products I would need to re-do this table. LUCKY ME (hint of sarcasm 🙂 But I was so impressed with his willingness to help me out.

Here are the products that I used to fix my mistake:

Stripping a piece can be a hassle but in a weird way I like doing it! I love that smooth clean finish to start with. Slather the stripper over your paint and wait 30 minutes. Make sure you wear your gloves so you don’t burn yourself. Then start scrapping away!

 

After all the paint is gone, use a fine sanding block and sand until you have a smooth finish.
Now for the fun part…

 

Here’s a great tip: if you are wanting a design on your piece, use spray adhesive on your stencil and then lay it down where you want it. It won’t budge while you paint but lifts off really easily. Then it’s time to protect your piece of furniture. Just so you don’t make the same mistake that I made make sure that your top coat is WATER BASE if you are using it on top of a white LATEX paint. Mike recommended Minwax POLYCRYLIC protective finish. I found the finish to be flawless. Remember if you are sealing a piece of furniture you want the finish to be SATIN. Not to matte but not a shiny glossy finish.

So the lesson I learned the hard way is use a WATER BASE protective product on WHITE paint. DO NOT use an OIL BASE. Hopefully this will help someone not make the same mistake as I did.

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17 Responses to Polyurethane vs. Polyacrylic

  1. Your table turned out lovely but I have to admit I felt a pang in the pit of my stomach when I saw the picture you took of the stripping process. I'm so sorry!!! But the table turned out just great. Thank you for the tip!

  2. Oh, how awful! I hate going into Home Depot and having someone from another department insist on helping me in one he's not familiar with. Ugh. I would have been so furious if this had happened to me.

    Your table turned out beautifully, though! And thanks for the post! I'll definitely need to remember this. 🙂

    • I seriously started crying in front of the "real" paint guys when I realized I was in trouble. I wonder how many women they have seen cry like a baby in front of them at work? Ha! Thank you for your compliment, that means a lot!

  3. What a pain for you, but THANK YOU for sharing what you learned! I am impressed with your determination. And your table is beautiful! I have made the mistake of using a polyurethane based sealer for a monochromatic canvas acrylic painting, only to have it yellow later. No stripping that, though. 🙁 Only acrylics on acrylics applies to all paint projects, I guess. (Found this post on The Weekend re-Treat, btw. Thanks for sharing!)

  4. How frustrating! But your table turned out beautiful! I use Varathane Water-Based Diamond Coat finish on all my projects, even my white ones. You are absolutely right to stay away from oil-based varnishes.

  5. Your table is beautiful! I am not familiar with the different kinds of paint to use. This is very helpful. Thank you so much sharing your experience. I am pinning this for the future.

  6. Oh man, what a thing to discover after the fact. BUT, I'm sure this post is a real blessing to so many people who are DIYing right this minute! Your final result looks beautiful! I'm impressed that you kept going 🙂

  7. Oh man! I sure could've used this info about a week ago!! Lol. Painted some WHITE cabinets…used the wrong sealer and they turned yellow! In the process of redoing them!! It's a heartbreaking mess!!

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