Conflicting Advice…aka…How Not to Poly A Table

The great thing about the Internet is all the information. The terrible about the Internet is all the information…or should I say the conflicting information.

Yesterday I sanded and stained my dining table, and it was looking not-so-bad (considering that I’m a complete novice at this sort of thing).

Oak Veneer Table Top with Dark Walnut Stain

This morning it didn’t look nearly as impressive. It looked dry. And flat. And dull. Which was kinda sorta what I expected, and I set set out to find the best protective coat(s) for this table of mine.

And hour later I was just as uncertain as when I’d begun. One forum said this. Another article said that.

Feeling frustrated and like I just needed to get on with the darn thing, I settled on a product that was oil-based, reportedly durable, and, most importantly, readily available.

Oil Based and Readily Available

I also sprung for a really good brush, thinking it would improve the finish application. I justified the expense with the thought that if this project turned out well, I’d use the brush, and the poly, again.

After watching a few how-to-videos, I thought I had the basics down.

Don’t Shake…Stir

I learned not to shake the poly because shaking will cause air bubbles. I also learned I needed to stir it, especially when choosing a satin or semi-gloss product. Apparently both these finishes contain “flattening agents” that can settle to the bottom of the can.

So I stirred my poly just like in the video. And I got this.

I Don't Think This Is Supposed To Be Like This

There was some sort of nasty goo on the bottom of the can that wouldn’t mix back into the product no matter how thoroughly I stirred. That didn’t happen in the video.

A smarter woman would have popped the lid back on the poly, grabbed the goo and her receipt , and returned it to the store.

I am not a smarter woman.

Give the Piece a Final Dusting

I learned that I should use a lint-free cloth to remove any dust and/or debris that may have settled on the piece while it was drying. I wish all the steps in this process had been so easy.

Don’t Work Directly From The Can

Okay…confession time. Unless I’m using a roller I paint directly from the can. I know I shouldn’t, but I do. But I followed the advice and poured the poly into a clean and dry plastic cup. I’m glad I did. (More on that later)

Use a Slapping Motion to Remove Excess Poly From Brush

Apparently getting excess poly off a brush is a bit different than getting excess paint off a brush (or maybe I’ve been doing the paint thing all wrong all this time…which is quite possible.) After dipping the brush into the poly I lightly slapped the brush against the sides of the cup to remove the excess product.

Apply Poly In the Direction of the Grain

I applied the poly with the direction of the grain as instructed. The first thing I noticed was that each stroke had tons of tiny little bubbles in it. So I backstroked to remove the majority of them and trusted that the rest would disappear within a few minutes as I’d read they would. I made sure I slightly overlapped each stroke of poly and was careful not to overwork it.

I Am Easily Impressed By the Gleam of Wet Polyurethane

When I dipped my brush back into the poly and slapped it to remove the excess product, I noticed that the tips of my bristles were dark and the poly that ran out from the brush was darker than it had been originally.

However, I am a woman easily impressed by the gleam of wet poly. So I continued the application, stopping occasionally to take gratuitous photos of the process.

Gratuitous Photo #1

Gratuitous Photo #2

A smarter woman would have been very concerned when she saw this.

Especially when compared to the original product.

A smarter woman would have stopped. A smarter woman would have called someone. A smarter woman would not have continued to apply poly to her table top until it looked like this.

Praying That It Dries

Once again…I am not a smarter woman.

And this not a smarter woman is now very worried about just what was going on. This not a smarter woman is wondering if that poly’s going to dry. This not a smarter woman is wondering if The Hubster will kill her if she has to go buy a new table before Thanksgiving.

Repeat after me…I have table cloths…I have table cloths.

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Categories: Furniture Makeovers, Uncategorized

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