General Question

notabridesmaid's avatar

Does anyone know of a durable polyurethane that will not leave a yellow tint on white furniture?

Asked by notabridesmaid (307points) January 17th, 2011

I just painted a dresser white and I am ready to apply some sort of protectant coat over the finish. The problem is I also used a crackle finish so I am not able to use a water based clear coat because it may disturb the crackle. Does anyone know if a good brand of oil based poly that actually goes on and dries clear? I am really concerned about it leaving a yellow tint on the furniture as I have experienced in the past.

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11 Answers

blueiiznh's avatar

All Polyurethane will yellow over time and look cloudy. It is because of its chemical composition. It is commonly used because of its ease of use and application and its durability.
The best application techniques and products to get clear finishes are the utilization and application of Varnish or Lacquer.
Each of these also have their downsides:
Varnish is linseed oil mixes with the shellac flakes instead of alcohol. It requires a sanding process between each application coat, which shellac does not require. Shellac and varnish are not often used by furniture makers today because both turn cloudy from heat and moisture, and (particularly in the case of shellac) dissolve in contact with alcohol spills.

Nitrocellulose lacquer has been the preferred finish of furniture makers. Lacquer bonds well with wood and with successive layers of finish. Lacquer is easy to apply, rub, polish, repair and, if necessary, strip and remove. Lacquer enhances the natural beauty of all woods while allowing the finisher to control color and sheen.

I would go the Lacquer route.

notabridesmaid's avatar

@blueiiznh Thank you for the response! So you mean something like this?
And do you think it is ok to use over a crackled surface?

blueiiznh's avatar

That looks good, and there is also valspar crackle lacquer

Should look great over a crackle….

crisw's avatar

Just be aware that lacquer produces some nasty fumes- don’t try this in an area that’s not well-ventilated! You actually cannot buy some types of lacquer in California due to air-quality concerns.

blueiiznh's avatar

@crisw great point. Read the label and take heed

notabridesmaid's avatar

THANKS TO YOU BOTH! This is very helpful!!!

crisw's avatar

A lacquer finish is beautiful, despite the fumes. I did some pieces for a dog show a while back- some had a poly finish and some had lacquer- the lacquer finish was just so much less artificial-looking, smooth and beautiful.

However, I did just notice that the dresser is painted. Lacquer and many paints do not get along so be sure to try some on an inconspicuous part first!

notabridesmaid's avatar

@crisw Oh wow…thanks for the warning! I actually used milk paint so I will be sure to test a small area first. I have never used this sort of paint before and I am really not sure how it responds to any type of top coat to be honest. I sent an email to the company I bought it from to see if they have any thoughts as well.

crisw's avatar


Hopefully you like the milk paint- that stuff is a bear to strip in the future!

Here’s a good discussion on clear top coats for milk paint.

notabridesmaid's avatar

@crisw I like it so far. It was kind of a pain to mix but I really like the extremley flat finish. I wanted to create a distressed look with kind of a antique feel and it looks good so far. I just had no idea I would have this much trouble trying to figure out how to protect it. The other issue is that there are some places where the cracks are actually peeling up. I think this is because I did not get all of the original finish off in a few spots. I am trying find something that I can use to preotect it without those pieces actually coming off because if really looks great.So I basically need to seal some of it down, if that makes sense.

jca's avatar

Use a water-based polyurethane (Minwax makes one – comes in a blue can). Dries quickly, brushes can be cleaned with water. It’s just as durable as oil based. It’s in Walmart for about $15 a quart. Oil based anything is such a mess, smelly, takes forever to dry…...and the main thing about water based is IT IS NOT YELLOW – IT IS CLEAR!!

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