One of the most common questions that we get around here is simple, “Do I need to seal my furniture with a protective clear coat after painting it?”

how to seal your furniture and when it isn't necessary

When you demand an official answer, I deliver, people. That’s how I roll.

YES!! You need to seal furniture most of the time. I don’t seal everything, but I absolutely seal furniture when they are high traffic pieces. For example a kitchen table is an absolute no brainer, you will be sitting at it daily. Your kids will be poking it with a fork for heaven’s sake. You need to protect it from harm. Don’t worry. I will tell you what products to buy and how to apply it in a minute.
I don’t seal a project when it doesn’t get decorated, prodded, or poked. For example a lamp isn’t going to need a protective cover because it won’t be touched by anything else. A picture frame is going to be hung on the wall so it also doesn’t need much protection. BUT, the top of a piano is going to be decorated with accessories, so you will need to protect the beautiful paint job that you so lovingly just gave it by applying a clear coat.

Make sense?

Here is a list of items I ALWAYS apply a clear coat on {especially on the top where it will take the brunt of abuse}.
Kitchen Table
Bedside Tables
Coffee Tables
End Tables
Sofa Tables
Kitchen Cabinets
Clear coat is NOT needed on these items:
A lamp
A picture frame
A mirror
Dining Room Chairs {but use a glossy paint to make it easy to wipe off}.

What type of clear coat do I suggest?
#1 rule: Do not buy a spray clear-coat product.
I know, this may seem confusing coming from a spray paint addict like myself, but I promise it isn’t worth it. Every time I have sprayed on a clear coat it has resulted in STRIPES. No bueno. Trust me, don’t do it. Just follow my very carefully written instructions.

Buy Minwax Water-Based Polycrylic.

I love this water-based polycrylic product. I buy it in SATIN. It is plenty glossy for my taste. You can buy it at Wal-Mart for about $17.00 for a quart. You will be able to do a dozen projects with one can. I like how crystal clear the product dries. I have used other products that dry a yellow color, and this is not one of them. Don’t worry, it looks milky when you use it, but it dries perfectly clear. Plus since it is water based you can wash your brush out in the sink {a definite plus as opposed to washing it out with paint thinner}.
minwax polycrylic
FOLLOW the directions on the can!
You MUST use an expensive, high-quality brush (or you will get brush strokes…I HATE brush strokes). I personally suggest a Purdy brush.
Make sure to do at least two (preferably three coats).
Apply one coat by brushing only in one direction to eliminate brush strokes.
Allow the coat to dry completely and then sand with 220 or 320 grit sand paper before applying the next coat.
Before you add a second and third coat, make sure you wipe off your dust from sanding.
You may wonder why I chose polycrylic instead of polyurethane. Polycrylic is water based NOT oil based. So, I prefer polycrylic. Plus polyurethane will yellow over time and polycrylic won’t.

I hope this will answer some of the many questions that have come up lately!

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  1. says

    Thank you for posting this. I just bought a table and chairs for my kitchen off craigslist with plans to refinish it and I wasn't sure what I need to do to seal it. How timely your post was. =)

  2. Brooke @ says

    @BedHead Boutique: Wax and clear coats both protect your furniture. Wax will need to be reapplied in the long run {every 3-5 years as far as I understand}, and is preferred by some in this field. Most say they use wax because it won't yellow over time like a polyurethane will. BUT, polycrylic {the product I use} will not yellow either. So, I prefer the lasting protection of clear coat that won't need to be reapplied after a few years.

    I also tend to like to refinish my furniture in the long run by painting it another color if I get bored. If I were to use wax, I would need to strip it off before I was able to do this. If I use a clear coat instead of wax, all I need to do is sand lightly before I change the color.

    So, in short I prefer clear coat over wax.

  3. says

    This is exactly what I used to seal my newly painted kitchen cabinets, but guess what? Yellow streaks. I am so sad and haven't had the time to sand and re-do. I haven't figured out yet what would have caused the yellowing. Do you have any ideas? I sprayed on white Sherwin Williams wood paint then brushed on the Polycrylic finish. They were so beautiful until the Polycrylic dried. I wanted to jump up and down and scream and cry. (haha)Since I get to RE-DO, I would love any hints you can give.

    • Christina says

      If you used acrylic paint it should cure not just dry before applying a top coat. They say 3 to 4 weeks. Oil is a lot longer of course. It is thought that if the white paint is fully dried and cured it can react with the polyacrylic to produce yellow streaks. I’m going to use Benjamin Moore crystal clear polyacrylic, minwax doesn’t get very good reviews.

  4. Brooke @ says

    I am so sorry!! I don't have any idea why it would have left yellow streaks. I know that it can react weird with some types of wood. That has never happened to me, but I wouldn't use anything but lacquer on kitchen cabinets. I did a post about how to paint kitchen cabinets if you want to find it, that is the way I would do them if it were me. Again, so sorry. :(

  5. says

    Good timing for me as well! I just refinished a dining table and stained it yesterday. I had some spots of the stain that looked greyish… It is a pine table. Should I try to redo or just try to seal and see if it "looks fine." Of course I don't want it to look just fine!

  6. says

    Okay, I am lazy. Do I have to sand in between coats? What is the benefit of doing so?

    Thanks for this post by the way. It is especially timely for me also because I am going to repaint an old weather beaten piano turquoise. (And I am already tired of sanding it 😉 ) So excited!

    • Margie says

      Minwax has a product that can be applied with a clean dry cloth that you do NOT have to sand between coats. My son and I have both used this product. To be more exact, my son had built an entertainment center and end tables for his in-laws for Christmas. I was living in NY and arrived mid-morning on Christmas Eve. I helped him apply this product to his “gifts” and they were ready for delivery the next morning after enough coats to make the pieces durable and lovely looking.

  7. Brooke @ says

    @SCSI: I wouldn't use anything on a rug that wasn't specifically for fabric. Good luck with your project!

    @NotPatient: If you use a nice purdy brush, you shouldn't have air bubbles. If you roll it on you will and most of them should settle before it dries, but I don't use a roller specifically for this reason. Hope this helps!

  8. NotPatient says

    I did use a purdy brush…googled around and this is the same feedback everyone online gives, but I still have bubbles even when I use it in very thin coats. They persist even when I paint it on over the same area (the bubbles lessen but do not disappear. Oh well.

  9. says

    Thank you. This is really helpful. One question though, do I seal just the top of my drawer or do I seal all of the drawer's body? (front, sides, etc)?

  10. says

    Thank you for this article. Its really helpful. One question though, do I just seal the top of my drawer or do I seal the whole drawer's body (sides, fronts, etc)?


  11. Liz says

    Your site is amazing! Thank you!
    I have a wax & poly question:
    I used ASCP pure white to paint six kitchen chairs. I started to wax but they are tacky & the kids leave smudges, scuffs etc all over them and it is hard to get off (I know! WHY did I paint chairs white with THREE children under 5??)
    Anyway, now I’m wondering if I can seal with the polycrilic instead? Do I need to sand off the wax first?
    Also, if not, could I spray paint a satin latex right over them instead?


    • Brooke says

      I have never tried to polycrylic something that has been waxed before. I would guess that the polycrylic would not stick to the wax. So, the only advice I have to give you is to try it. Will you please report back and tell us what happened? I’m curious now. Good luck!

  12. Kristin says

    Do you have to sand in between coats? I used a 220 grit sand paper on my first coat of sealer and it sanded my paint in a couple of areas. I was able to touch them up because they were really small but wondered if I could just put 3 coats and wait for them to dry well between coats?

    • Brooke says

      You definitely need to follow the instructions and let it dry between coats and sand between coats too. You want each coat to adhere to the last, and it will adhere better if you sand lightly.

  13. Mallory says

    I went to Lowes and they recommended Minwax Clear Wood Stain not tinted to seal my old painted dresser. I read the instructions and it tells me to sand the piece completely- which I don’t want to do- and tells me to wipe off the stain after 3 minutes. What’s the benefit of using your product instead of the one Lowes recommended?

  14. Stacey says

    Will this also work if you have used enamel paint? I just did a kitchen table, but need to coat it with something to protect it. Also, how long would you let the paint “cure” before doing the clear coat?

    • Paul says

      After consulting with professionals that paint kitchen cabinets for a living and the engineers at Benjamin Moore, this is how I finished my previously stained and polyurethane d kitchen cabinets. I might as well start from the beginning and answer your question as I go…
      THOROUGHLY clean cabinets and all surfaces to be finished. I scrubbed with a scotch pad and TSP substitute until squeaky clean. Then I used a nontoxic deglosser and another scotch pad and deglossed (scrubbed) all surfaces again. I scrubbed again with TSP one last time to make sure there was no residue left on any surface. You probably could skip the first scrubbing and go right into the deglossing then a thorough scrub down after. Anyway I think you get the point here. Surfaces must be absolutely clean with no grease or residue left on them. Remember, this job is 90% prep and 10% painting. I used a HVLP sprayer to apply 3 coats Benjamin Moore Impervo water based enamel to the cabinets. I waited 1 day between coats and did not sand and here is why. Most paint takes around 2 weeks to cure. Prior to 2 weeks cure time, a coat of paint applied over another coat will form a molecular bond and adhere quite well. After 2 weeks, you should rough up the surface (sand) so that the second or subsequent coat will form a mechanical bond to the prior coat for proper adherence. When paint is applied, it has a period of “outgassing” which is what you smell during the curing process. This goes on for about 5-7 days after which the outgassing is minimal. The important point here is that if you put a polycrylic over paint while it is outgassing, you will get bubbles in the poly coat. So…the proper time to apply the poly coat is between 5 and 14 days (after the gas and before the paint cures) and you wont have to sand because you will get a molecular bond between the poly and the paint. I used Benwood Stays Clear low lustre acrylic polyurethane (3 coats). The cabinets look magnificent and after two years have nary a scratch, chip, peal or any signs of wear and they clean like the side of a refrigerator.

      • Paul says

        Reference above post…I forgot to mention the primer coat. After cleaning and deglossing, I sprayed a coat of Insl-X “Stix” on all surfaces. Stix is a urethane bonding primer that absolutely adheres to everything. It sprays or brushes on easily, is sandable after a couple hours and cleans up with soap and water.

  15. jane:-) says

    Ms.Brooke LOVE all your advice & suggestions :-) I Just bought bedroom furniture for the lil ones & IT hasn’t even been a month & already paint chipping on the dresser ,”Help”!! Also it Looks like there’s no protective coating over it ,(small dresser,2 nightstands& 2headbords.I will use the the clear polycrylic & already bought purdy brush $$$$. And if u have any more advice or tips for this project “I have never done this before Mom ” Lol thank u very much hope to hear from u soon will stall my hubby while waiting on your response …

    • Brooke says

      I would definitely polycrylic it!! Good luck. I would probably do 3 coats with sanding with 220 grit sand paper in between. It will really help! Good luck! :)

  16. Amanda says

    I ave the same question as a few others that hasn’t been answered. I’m very thankful for this post and will be finishing up my wooden, now painted, coffee table soon following your helpful tips. I was wondering, should I ‘protect’ the whole table or is just the top good enough? Also, will this stuff be ok to use over Krylon Fusion spray paint? Thanks again so much for your posts!

    • Brooke says

      I just do the top, but if it is going to be in an busy area that will get knocked, then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to protect the whole thing. Yes, it will work over the Fusion spray paint.:)

      • Amanda says

        Thanks! My table is cured and ready for the top coats, so it will be done this weekend. Thank you for replying!

  17. Liz says

    Brooke! I love you I love you I love you! I found your site through my first DIY home decorating love, Mandi at VintageRevivals and I must say it’s looking like it might be time to introduce a third to my romance with self-home-decorating. I just got a couple pieces of family heirloom antique furniture that I want to pretty up with some bright colored paint a’la Mandi’s Max HVLP Sprayer technique but I was all in a tizzy over how to keep the finish safe, post-paint. My BF is a lovely man, but not so careful with the furniture and I saw many a ding and chip in my future. Your advice is so helpful and SO appreciated. You may have just saved not just my antique buffet, but my relationship 😉

    • Brooke says

      Thank you for making me laugh. Your comment made my night! Mandi and I are BFFs in real life, and she is my fave too! xoxo

  18. Courtney says

    (Similar to the last question.) I recently bought a beautiful buffet table from a salvage place. I’m distressing it white. I wish I had the money in invest in a paint sprayer at the times, but since I don’t I’m spray painting it. I plan to sand, wax the edges, paint, then wipe off (over the waxed areas for the distressed effect). I know you’re familiar with this technique, just explaining my plan for clarity! My question is… I was planning to use the polycrylic, however, I noticed it said to use it over water-based paint. Pretty sure spray paint is oil-based. Any recommendations on what to use?

  19. Megan says


    I just got done priming, and painting three coats of white paint on a mid-century dresser (sanding between each coat). I bought Minwax Finishing Paste (as it won’t turn white pieces yellow). Do you think this is a good option and have you ever used it? If so, do you have any tips? Or, do you think it’s best for me to return it and try the Polycrilic?
    Thanks for your input.

    • Brooke says

      I haven’t ever used that product, so I cannot back it up. I have used Polycrylic for years and I have never seen a yellowing spot yet. Good luck!

        • Brooke says

          Nope. But after the first coat of polycrylic is dry, you need to sand it in between coats with 220 grit sand paper. I usually do three coats to be safe. The last coat you do not sand it after it dries. :) xoxo

  20. Michelle says

    I have just bought and used this exact same product and it turned the white paint yellow on a 100 year old dining room table that I just have painted a white satin color.

    • Brooke says

      I am grateful for your feedback. I wonder if it’s reacting to the type of paint that you used. Could you share what brand and type of paint you used so that it could prevent this problem for others? Thanks in advance.

  21. Penny says

    I have used minwax polycrylic with success in the past. I used it on my kitchen cupboards when I painted them white five years ago. However, I just painted an old entertainment unit black (semi-gloss paint) and when I used the poycrylic on it, I ended up with brush marks. I have always used the minwax brush that is specifically for this product. Have you used this product over dark paint? What type of Purdy brush do you use? I have just painted a coffee table a dark brown color and don’t want brush marks again! Can you only use it over flat or satin paint?

    • Brooke says

      Penny, yes I have used it over dark flat or satin paint. A flat finish especially NEEDS something to seal it. Otherwise you will hate it because dust will absorb into the furniture instead of wipe off. Just make sure that you are applying the polycrylic thick enough that it doesn’t dry during application. It should have time to settle a bit while it dries. {But be careful of the polycrylic dripping off the edges}. I apply a pretty thick layer when I apply it. And, of course use your good brush. Then wait for it to dry, sand it with 220 grit sand paper lightly and repeat. Basically, I follow the instructions on the side of the can! Good luck!

      • Holly says

        Brooke – i just finished repaint 6 black dinning chairs with glossy spay paint bottle. The original was very very very shiny but after i painted I lost the “very shiny”. I did some research and found your website regarding to the top coat to seal furniture. I know it needs to seal the chairs but if i apply the water base polycrylic satin, will i get the shiny back? What is your recommendation?

        • Brooke says

          Like I said in the post, it is pretty glossy but that’s according to me. Ha! If you want super glossy, you might want to try a different finish. Just make sure it is the exact brand as the one I talked about. Hope this helps! xoxo

  22. Amy says

    Hi Brooke!
    I just found this post via pinterest and was in the middle of painting a desk. I went to Home Depot and bought the Minwax Polycrylic but I didn’t pay attention to the finish type, I ended up with Clear Gloss. Is that like high gloss paint?? If so I am thinking I may need to exchange it. I don’t care for super shiny furniture.
    Thanks so much!!!

    • Brooke says

      Yes, Amy it will be super shiny. I would return it and get satin. Good luck! Sorry you got all the way home with gloss, been there, done that! xoxo, Brooke

  23. Carrina says

    Painting a dresser. What if I forgot to sand between coats (I only applied two coats) but was going to do a 3rd on the top. If I just sand between the 2nd and 3rd layer on the top that should be okay right? I read on another blog that because its not a eurthene but a crylic it should be okay.

  24. Jody says

    I tried to read through all comments – but do you use this product over top of spray paint? I just got my old dresser looking beautiful then used spray sealer like the told me to at lowes :( and now I have to start all over.

    • Brooke says

      OH NO! Those darn Lowes associates can sometimes mess things up. Yes, this product works great over the top of spray paint. I would try to brush on a little bit right over the top of your piece before you start completely over and see if it covers up the spray/sealer mess. It may cover it up. It’s worth a try. Just make sure you are using a nice brush and satin finish. :) Good luck.

  25. sally says

    Brooke- Thanks for this wonderful post. I just came across your site and i really need ur suggestions.

    I painted my Ivory colored dinning chairs with Behr premium plus semi-gloss interior Enamel paint(white), i primed first with Kilz latex water-based primer.

    The paint came out very well but i still need additional protection to avoid scratches, PLEASE WHAT TYPE OF SEALER DO YOU RECOMMEND; oil or water-based and the BRAND cos i don’t want to make a mistake of using something that will discolor the white paint.

    Thanks again

  26. Gloria says

    Hi–I just painted a dresser with Behr interior Enamel paint (white). I used polyurethane to protect it and it yellowed. (I wish I’d found your site first.) I just repainted it with the Behr, and will use the polycrylic you recommend, but I have two questions. How long should I wait before painting the painted piece with the polycrylic? Does it need to “cure” first? Also, this dresser is going to become a bathroom vanity. How long does the polycrylic need to dry before the piece is good to go, so to speak? Thanks! Your site is very valuable! I bought the polycrylic and the Purdy brush, as well as the fine sandpaper, but I am hesitant because the instructions do not indicate how soon I can apply it after painting with the latex paint.

    • Brooke says

      I would just wait until it is dry to the touch. Basically wait the same amount of time that you would wait to paint another coat of paint. Hope this helps! I’m sorry about the Polyurethane. Been there done that. :(

  27. Dana Schmidt says

    I painted my kitchen table black sime gloss. I sanded it and applied Polycrylic and it left bad strikes in it. what can i do

    • Brooke says

      The black semi gloss is where the stripes are coming from. I would paint over it with black satin to reduce the stripes and then polycrylic over the top of that. I wish I had an easier response, but that’s what I would do.

  28. Jen says

    Do I sand before my first coat of sealer? I think the answer is yes but I just don’t want to scratch up the paint when it looks so perfect. I know 220 isn’t super gritty but still…will the paint still look as good once the sealer is on? Thanks!

  29. SCotton says

    Hi! I spray painted a table about an hour ago. How long do you have to wait before applying the polycrylic? Thanks!

  30. Nancy says

    hello there I have a question…I just redid my kitchen table and chairs…I cant and dont want to use a poly anything on them due to the fact that my daughter is disabled and has severe asthma and other breathing issues…is there anything else that I can use to seal the table that isnt harsh smelling or needs major time in drying due to we live in a apt. Any suggestions you have will be greatfully accepted. thank you so much.

    • Brooke says

      Polycyrlic is water based and it doesn’t have a harsh smell. It isn’t the same as polyurethane that is oil based and smells really strong. I would definitely seal it though or you will not be happy with the table in less than 6 months.

  31. Kathy Lanigan says

    Help! I used the minwax water based polycrylic that says “crystal clear finish” over white annie sloan chalk paint and it is yellow. Why?? I’m so sad and at a loss about what to do.

    • Brooke says

      I’m guessing it is reacting to the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I am not an expert with this brand of paint, so I would contact them and see if they have any advice. :(

  32. Tiffany says

    Hi Brooke-
    Weird question- I am painting a dresser and a desk. Last night I put the last coats of white semi-gloss latex paint on, the dresser looks perfect but I rushed through the desk and this morning could see marks where I mistakenly re-rolled over a part that was almost done drying. It’s hard to describe– it’s not brush marks– it’s where you can see that the roller touched drying paint and it doesn’t have the pretty shine. My question is, will the polycrylic hide this? or should I put ANOTHER “final” coat of paint on the right way with no roller marks.

    My other question– I am nervous to use brush on polycrylic as I don’t trust myself not to get brush marks– will the rub-on/cloth-on kind work as well? How many coats? Any more info on that?

    • Brooke says

      I would definitely re-coat. And yes you can use the rub on kind. I would follow the instructions on the bottle, but probably 3 coats.

  33. Maria says

    Quick question re: sanding. I am finishing a buffet that I sanded, painted black (3 coats) sanded again and then sprayed (with a spray gun) a top coat of polyacrylic. The poly looks spotty. Weird. Also, when I sand the poly coat, it’s very dusty color, even after wiping with a tack cloth. Will a second coat of poly make it look dark black again?

    • Brooke says

      Yes re-coating with poly will bring back the black. As for the polyacrylic with a spray gun, I have never applied it that way. So, I’m afraid I’m no help with that. But, in general you need 2-3 coats of poly before it looks completely covered. Good luck!

  34. Lee says

    Varathan has a water based Polyurethane that does NOT need to be sanded between coats (Unless you wait more than 24 hours between coats). It’s going to save me 6+ hours since I won’t have to sand!

  35. Kristen says

    I am thinking of buying this new desk that is around $1500 that is stained vs painted. Does this technique work on stained furniture, or is this technique just for painted furniture?

    I had noticed that the demo desk at the store had scratches in it. Granted demos take a beating, but I would just be sick if I scratched the desk. I have been looking around for sealing stained furniture, but can’t seem to find much about it.

    Thank you,


      • Sarah says

        Hi! Stumbled on your blog and loving it. I refinished a wooden broyhill saga dresser by sanding and staining. Now, im debating on even using poly. It looks FABULOUS the way it is. But since it is a dresser, it is gonna get a lot of “traffic.” Would you still seal it with poly if you were me?

  36. Majda says

    Thanks for all the information. I found it on pinterest pinned as foodsafe sealer and I went through all the comments but I didnt find any info about it being food safe,through my searches I read that most sealer will be food safe after curing,can you please clarify this? If its food safe what is the curing time.thanks

    • Brooke says

      Curing times will vary based on the products you use, so I would read the instructions on the can. It should say the curing time. I would guess 48-72 hours.

  37. Jessica says

    HI! I have spray painted a little before, but it had been a while, so before I took on a refinishing project I consulted this posting for the sealing stages because I never get a truly smooth “satin” finish when painting even though the finish I choose is satin :) I’m on my third coat of polycrylic (exact same one you use, and I agree about the yellowing issue with polyurethane!! I’ve worked with that one in the past :) My question is about the sanding between coats of sealant. I’m using 220 grit and I’ve tried after my first coat of paint and even on the third coat could still see a little of the sanding marks, and then again on my second and third coats of polycrylic I can still see a few. I’m wondering how to avoid this. It seems to me that now if I don’t sand the third coat and do a fourth it might hide them, but everything I’m seeing, including the directions on the can, say to sand all the way up until right before the last coat. What am I doing wrong? I’ve tried using my palm sander with the 220, tried the 220 by hand, and I’m wondering if maybe I should just be spot-sanding out the drips/bumps instead of an all-over sand in between coats…?! Help me understand please :) *Awesome & inspiring tutorials by the way!!

  38. tiffani says

    I just bought a kitchen table that is stained and has a rough rustic top. I also just noticed that one of my kids left a mark from a paint pen on the table. I tried to scratch it off with my finger nail and off came some of the top coat/varnish so now I can see the unstained wood. So two questions: any advice on how to remove the paint pen marks? What is the best way to seal / protect the top as it will need to withstand a lot.

  39. Stephanie says

    I’m having trouble getting an even coat of the poly on the top of my table. I am using a good purdy brush. When I’m putting the product on it looks like I’m getting a good coat on. But, when it dries, it is very obvious that it is not. Any hints?

    • Brooke says

      I do at least 3 coats with a light sand in between. How many have you done? Maybe you haven’t done enough coats. Try that and let me know how it’s going.

  40. Allison says

    Brooke, Thank you so much for being so helpful! I’m about to do my first project ever, so forgive the simple question. After sanding between coats (Polycrylic), what is the best way to dust off the sand? I don’t want to leave lint or anything. Thanks again. :)

    • Brooke says

      GREAT QUESTION! I use a lint free cloth to wipe off the dust. Don’t rush to the store though, an old t-shirt cut up into pieces works GREAT! Good luck on your first project!

  41. Karen Schaffer says

    I’ve been searching everywhere for a heavy duty durable top coat that I saw on a blog in the past few months. It was a product made for heavy wear like table tops or chair seats. Do you know of this product or can you steer me in the right direction. It wasn’t MInwax. It was a product sold in one of those speciality paint lines like AS, I believe .
    Thanks for all of your help.

  42. Danielle says

    Hi, I love your site! Thanks for all the great tips. BUT I think I need some help…I got some OOPS paint at Home Depot. A Grey Interior Semi Gloss Enamel. I used it to paints my Headboard and 2 night stands. Can I still use MINWAX Water Based Polycrylic Protective Finish Clear Satin to seal it. and if so, How long do I wait after? I just finished today!

  43. von says

    I used Polycrylic to seal a bathroom vanity in a kids’ bathroom this past year. It was an antique “dry sink” (dresser) that I turned into a sink by cutting a hole in the top and installing a bowl sink. I painted it gray and sealed it with 3-4 coats of Polycrylic. So far, so good, and it gets daily use. Good product. Thanks for the post; spraypainting a shelf and I’m going to use Polycrylic on it too.

  44. Christina says

    Thank you for this! I’ve gone to two different stores today Home Depot and sherwin Williams and neither of them were able to help me! They looked at me like I was crazy for asking for a sealant for my dresser! This was a great help!

  45. Jen says

    Hi Brooke,

    Love your site! I just painted a bedside table for my daughter’s room using a glossy spray paint. The woman at Home Depot gawked disapprovingly at me when I suggested I needed a polyacrylic finish on top to protect it. She said since I was using a glossy paint I didn’t need it. I trust your expertise more than her’s so just to verify – you still top coat even when you use glossy spray paint.


  46. Mcairlyn says

    Hi Brooke, wonderful site. I was wondering if polyacrylic would work for me. I am painting a kitchen table with chalk paint. It has a matter finish that I like and want to keep. Should I try to use the same polyacrylic? If not, what would you recommend?

    • Brooke says

      Mcairlyn, I would definitely seal it. Chalk paint is usually sealed with wax, but I would definitely use polycrylic over wax. It lasts longer and protects the table much longer.

  47. Julie says

    So I just got done painting a kitchen table 3 days ago.
    It feels perfectly dry, but I know it will take awhile to be fully cured.
    Question is can I put on my Top Coat now, or is it best to wait until it’s fully cured?
    Thanks for the help!

  48. jennifer says

    I just finished redoing some end tables. I sanded, primed, painted and use polyacrylic sealer. I sanded between coats of everything except the polycrylic (3 coats). Is this going t be a problem. I just found your site now when I was looking to see how long it would take to cure. Now I am nervous:(

  49. Mindy says

    Hi, I just finished painting an old dresser an espresso colored semi gloss. I’m looking at it now and am not happy with the sheen. Can I use this top coat in a satin finish? Will it dull down this semi gloss sheen?

  50. Julie Jensen says

    I just purchased some wood furniture and although it is high quality I worry about getting water rings. Would you recommend applying extra coats of water poly in case?

    • Brooke says

      I think the only way to 100% guarantee no water rings is to use coasters and place mats, but the polycrylic should help for sure!

    • Brooke says

      That depends on the weather. If it’s hot and dry outside it dries within a few hours, but if you are doing it in the winter, I would wait 24 hours.

  51. says

    I am refinishing a nok hockey table for my grandson. I picked it up at a thrift store and the hockey lines on the surface were not neat and clean. This table looks to be homemade and the table surface is melamine. I used Krylon spray paint for plastic and it seems to be fine. I am afraid that it will not be durable with the small hockey puck being slid across the table. This is a very small 24 X 36″ table and is a toy. I was wondering what kind of spray finish I could use to protect the lines. Of course I would want something that does not yellow and is a clear smooth finish.
    Thank You…any help is appreciated!

  52. says

    I just came back from our Ace Hardware store and they sell the Minwax Water-Based Polycrylic in a spray….I know you said to stay away from sprays, but what about this??

    • Brooke says

      I don’t recommend it. It’s hard to get it on perfectly even without stripes. But, friends of mine use it all the time. I’m just picky I think.

  53. KCal says

    I used the Minwax Polycrylic on my painted kitchen table. I put on 4 coats and let it dry for several days between coats. Now it is all peeling off. I am going to have to re-do the entire top. Do you have any idea why this might have happened? TIA

    • Brooke says

      Give me more information. Did you paint it before you sealed it? Or was it stained? Did you sand before your first coat?

      • KCal says

        I painted it with chalk paint and I did not sand it before I applied the Poly. Do you think that is what caused the peeling? I sanded in between each coat with a very fine sanding block.

        • Brooke says

          Yes, unfortunately. I think it needed something to adhere to. When I use chalk paint, I use a different product. I use Rustoleum Chalked Paint Matte Clear Coat from Home Depot. It works great.

  54. Tonya says

    I want to seal oil based paint pens used on an already painted wood stool from the store. I did try polyurethane spray and it melted the paint pen and left the white stool yellow with bubbles also. Do you know if this polycrylic will work with the oil based pen? Thanks.

  55. Rachael Linnemann says

    This article was EXTREMELY helpful to me! I have always wondered when sealing a project would be necessary, and your comment about not using a spray-seal was a LIFE SAVER! Thanks for the great article.

  56. Clara says

    Would it be safe to apply the polycrylic indoors? I live in a studio apartment, so it would be in my main living area.

  57. Becky says

    I recently came into possession of an old pine table. There are a lot of imperfections, scuffs, stains in the table top that I’m fine to leave in place, however, it seems that the original clear coat is wearing off a bit…would I be able to use the polycrylic directly on top of the old finish just to even out the finish a little? Would there be any problems with it adhering to the old finish?

    • Brooke says

      It should adhere just fine, I would just scuff it up with 220 grit sand paper, wipe it off with a lint free cloth, and have at it! :)

  58. Julie says

    I painted my kitchen table black (flat paint) and applied Polycrylic (3 coats, sanding with 220 in-between coats) allowed each coat to dry about 8 hours (overnight) between coats. The table was not used for about 4 days after the last coat was applied. When we used the table the water glass sweat from ice made the finish turn white and the casserole dish with thick pot holders under it made the finish also turn white. It stayed white for about an hour then turn clear again. Every time I wipe the table with a wet rag it turns white and stays white for about an hour. WHY????

    • Brooke says

      WOAH! That’s cray cray. I’ve heard that black paint and polycrylic are not friends. I would be so sad too. I would contact Minwax directly and ask them why this is happening. They might be able to help you. Darn it!

  59. Kate says


    I applied an oil based primer (Zinsser) to a wooden bureau, then applied two coats of Benjamin Moore paint and let it sit for three weeks. Last night I applied the Minwax Polycryclic, let it dry for two hours then went back to lightly sand with 220 grit paper. When I sanded it took some of the paint off! So now I have to start over. Any idea what I did wrong?

    • Brooke says

      How did you apply the primer and paint and what color is the paint you used? Tell me more details and hopefully I can help. :)

  60. Jake says

    Your article of sealing…when and when not caught my eye for I was looking if would be necessary to urethane seal a ceiling I stained (white stain on pine car siding). The paint store of coarse says yes but I feel a ceiling that gets no exposure or contact probably would not. Reading your tips it would seem you’d confer but if you feel it would be good to do please let me know. Thanks!

  61. candace says

    I painted my dining room chairs with a white gloss paint a while ago, but they get so dirty! Would the polycrylic help to keep the chairs clean or make it easier to wipe them off? They always look dirty and I’m getting desperate for a solution.

  62. Sandy says

    I don’t know if you’re still responding to questions, but here goes: Would polycrylic work over a brand new kitchen table that I bought at big box retailer which is lovely but shows every move you make on the table. I really don’t want to use glass or buy a table cover.

    • Brooke says

      Yes it should. But I would be weary if the table is black. Black and polycrylic are not friends for some reason. What color is your table?

    • arnia says

      I used this on my white dresser and it turned it yellow, thanks a lot for the waste of money, and now I have to redo all my work. I couldn’t tell it was turning yellow, until it was drying so I had coated the whole thing. You should know what your doing before you start blogging about it

      • Brooke says

        Thank you for letting me know. What kind of paint did you use? The more information that we have on this thread, the better since it will prevent other people from having the same problems. I have never had a problem with it. But there are way too many kinds of paint in the world to claim that everything will be fine since I have not used every single brand of paint.

  63. Lisa says

    Hi, Not sure if you are still responding but great article. I just finished a built in bookcase that I painted with semi gloss paint from sherwin williams. I didn’t realize that latex is bad to paint furniture with because it is always a little sticky and could stick to the books. I went to a lot of effort and bought a spray gun so the finish looks awesome. I’m wondering if I paint polyacrylic on top if I’ll get brush strokes. That would be so sad after spending so much time spraying the paint. Anyway just curious what your thoughts are. Does the sanding take away the brush strokes. Also the thought of putting 3 coats of poly on this bookshelf if giving me anxiety, it will take FOREVER! Thanks for the info!

    • Brooke says

      I have a few questions for you before I answer. Semi-gloss paint latex paint already has enough protection without sealing it. Are you wanting to seal it because it feels sticky? Because painting polycrylic over semi gloss isn’t actually necessary for protecting the finish.

      I don’t know if it would help the sticky situation. Brush strokes are very minimal with polycrylic as long as you use a really nice quality brush {like a Purdy…etc}.

      If you want to try it, test it on a spot that won’t show like on the underneath side of one of the shelves and let it dry overnight to see how it does. What color is your paint? I know that polycrylic and black paint do not like each other.

      I hope this helps!


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