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How to Get a Smooth Polyurethane Finish?

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If you are a homeowner or professional, chances are that you have either applied polyurethane inside your home or for someone else. This is a great product that can protect wood surfaces and keep them looking new for years! One of the most common mistakes people make when applying this finish is going too fast. There are some important steps to take in order to get a perfect finish on wood surfaces with polyurethane. In this blog post, we will discuss how to get a smooth polyurethane finish on a wood surface.

Step-by-Step Guide to Get a Smooth Polyurethane Finish

Step-by-Step Guide to Get a Smooth Polyurethane Finish

We all want to have a smooth polyurethane finish on our wood surfaces, but how do we get there? The number one tip is to use quality products and tools!

What tools and rubbing compound l need for smooth polyurethane finish?

  • A wide bristle brush or a foam roller for spreading the liquid polyurethane onto the surface.
  • Tack cloth for wiping away excess dust.
  • Sanding sealer (e.g., Dewaxed shellac) for sealing the wood.
  • Paint thinner cleaner (optional), such as acetone or mineral spirits if there is any dirt on your work piece.
  • Paste wax for an extra layer of protection.
  • Steel wool pads which are used for cleaning.
  • A pair of rubber gloves for your protection.
  • Orbital sander for smoothing out creases and deep scratches
  • A nonmetallic container to use as a mixing area, such as a disposable cardboard paint tray or plastic pitcher
  • Paper towels or rags for cleanup after the application of polyurethane sealant.

What Types of Wood Finish Do You Use?

The type of finish you use for your project is determined by how much protection, durability and aesthetic value that it provides. A clear gloss will offer a great level of resistance to water damage but has no color or depth, while an oil-based varnish offers the highest quality in appearance with its deep colors and protective qualities; however, this kind of product can have some negative impacts on health if applied improperly.

Water based varnish is the most eco-friendly option and can create a finish that is comparable to an oil based varnish, but with no health risks. The type of varnish you use for your project has some bearing on how it looks when finished so choose wisely!

A satin sheen is usually chosen as the middle ground between these two extremes because it doesn’t compromise anyone factor too severely. It also is less expensive than other options. This option reflects light at angles around 45 degrees which creates a warmer tone than what would be achieved from either a high gloss or a low gloss finish.

Possibly a Good Match: How Can I Achieve A Smooth Lacquer Finish?

Method for Smooth Polyurethane Finish

Now, let’s take a look at methods in detail!

  • First: Sand the wood surface with 180 or 220 Grit sandpaper. Wet sanding is preferable to dry sanding because the wet grit will stick and adhere better to the surface.
  • Second: Apply a thin coat of sealer, covering every square inch of the wood surfaces and let it dry for about one hour before applying a second coat (or more).
  • Third: Use a paint roller or brush to apply two coats of polyurethane on all wood surfaces. Do not allow any dry time between layers. You will have better results if you do this in warm and humid conditions because the polyurethane dries faster which helps create polyurethane varnish even smoother than when done in cooler temperatures and/or less humidity levels. You can also use a pump up sprayer, but it’s not as good at smoothing out bubbles and leveling out patches of uneven finish. If you need to do touch ups after your first polyurethane coat, then mix some rubbing alcohol with water in a 16:32 ratio and add that into another container filled with polyurethane before spraying again.
  • Fourth: If desired, use 150 grit wet paper over the top layer as the last step to get a super smooth finish. Let it all cure in warm humid conditions for at least 24 hours so moisture can evaporate out of the wood surface properly before doing anything else like furniture, flooring or other items where humidity is not desirable.

How to Get Smooth Water Based Polyurethane Finish?

How to Get Smooth Water Based Polyurethane Finish

Water based polyurethane is a great option for people who want to avoid the fumes and odor that come with other types of finishes. It doesn’t require any solvents, which means there are no harsh chemicals involved in its application. However, it does take patience when applying water-based polyurethane because you need to let each coat dry before moving onto the next one. If not, you run the risk of smearing previous coats together or creating bubbles or streaks in your satin finish line.

Before starting on this project, I recommend filling up spray bottles with clean water so they’re ready as soon as you get started working on your wood surface! You can also use these tools for wiping down surfaces if they start to dry out too quickly.

Now let’s get started!

  • First step: To start, dampen the wood surface with a clean cloth and then wipe it down to remove any dust or dirt that might be there. You may also want to sand the edges of your board if they’re starting to show some wear. This will help fill in some gaps before applying polyurethane.
  • Second Step: Now grab one of your water spray bottles and give each coat at least 15 minutes between coats while you wait for them to dry. Start from one end of the piece up until you reach the other end, making sure not to leave any wet patches behind as you go around again.
  • Third Step: Remember that you’re aiming for a smooth finish. And because water-based polyurethane dries so quickly, any uneven patches will be noticeable as soon as the next coat goes on top of it!
  • Fourth Step: Once your piece is completely coated in liquid urethane and each layer has dried, apply a final sanding to remove any light scratches or bumps from before. You may also want to buff with steel wool if there’s anything rough left over after using the orbital sander. Then all you have to do is wipe down again just like before and then wait until it’s dry enough to handle without leaving fingerprints behind (usually around 24 hours).

How to Get Smooth Oil Based Polyurethane Finish?

How to Get Smooth Oil Based Polyurethane Finish

When you are applying oil based polyurethane to your wood surfaces, it is always a good idea to use a foam brush. Oil-based polyurethane will not stick well on the bristles of the paintbrush and therefore may come off at points while painting. Applying with a foam brush also provides less resistance to absorption into the surface than if using bristles. The smoother application will cause an even coverage that applies evenly throughout each coat without any streaks or spots showing through in between coats. In order to get smooth results when doing this kind of project, ensure that there is no dust or debris present on the substrate where you’re going to apply.

Now let’s get started!

  • First step: To start, you will want to sand the surface with a fine grit sandpaper. This will ensure that all old or loose material is removed from the surface for an even and clean finish.
  • Second step: Once the dust has settled on your wood substrate after being cleaned off by vacuum, apply one coat of primer followed by two coats of oil based polyurethane in order to seal it with a durable topcoat.
  • Third step: After applying clear coats and letting them dry between each application, use steel wool for any areas where there may be small imperfections because these can be difficult to sand out.
  • Fourth step: When doing this kind of project, we recommend using ultra high gloss as its final coat so that the results are glossy and reflective.


When to apply water-based polyurethane finish?

Water-based polyurethane can be applied to bare wood or when a top coat of oil, wax, shellac, or water based finish is present. For projects that are exposed to harsh weather such as rain and snow, an acrylic sealer should be used before the application of water-based polyurethane. Before applying any type of protective coating on your project surface; it needs to be clean and dry with no polish oils or dirt deposits.

When to apply oil-based polyurethane finish?

Oil-based polyurethane is a traditional finish that has been used for decades. It provides excellent protection and durability to floors, furniture, cabinets, desks, paneling etc. The only downside of this type of finishing product is the strong smell it produces, making it undesirable for sensitive individuals or people with asthma. Oil-based polyurethanes are typically not recommended on natural wood surfaces because they can stain light colored woods like maple and cherry mahogany.

Smooth Polyurethane Finish


Polyurethane is a popular finish for wood and it’s not uncommon to find this type of coating in furniture, flooring, outdoor decks, or other surfaces. However, getting the perfect polyurethane finish can be difficult if you don’t have the right knowledge or tools on hand. Whether you are a professional contractor or just someone who enjoys working with their hands in their spare time, having access to these tips will be valuable when finishing any wood surface.

1 thought on “How to Get a Smooth Polyurethane Finish?”

  1. Such an informative article! All the information provided by you is really very helpful for all. I would like to say that before painting we should use tack cloth for removing small dust particles from the surface because it gives you the best paint finishing. Keep posting! Keep sharing!

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