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How to Avoid Bubbles in Polyurethane

2013-04-04   Views:16

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Polyurethane provides a barrier between wood surfaces to protect furniture, floors and craft projects from water damage, nicks and scrapes. Polyurethane bubbles spoil the finished look of the surface. Bubbles also create a weak point in the hard surf

How to Avoid Bubbles in Polyurethane

Polyurethane provides a barrier between wood surfaces to protect furniture, floors and craft projects from water damage, nicks and scrapes. Polyurethane bubbles spoil the finished look of the surface. Bubbles also create a weak point in the hard surface because the bubble does not adhere to the substrate. With use, the bubbles peel and expose the bare or lightly coated wood. Avoiding polyurethane bubbles before and during application results in a visually pleasing and stronger coating.

Skill level:Moderately Easy

Things you need

Painter's stir stickFoam or natural bristle paintbrushPainter's trayNaphtha, white spirit, turpentine or other thinner

Instructions

1 Clean, sand and remove dust from the bare wood surface. Dry the surface completely before applying polyurethane. Water, oil, grease and other contaminants interrupt the bond between the polyurethane and the wood substrate, which causes bubbles.

2 Stir polyurethane with a painter's stir stick. Vigorously shaking polyurethane introduces bubbles in the coating. If you or a helper shook the polyurethane, allow it to settle for two to four hours before use.

3 Use a foam brush or a high-quality natural bristle paintbrush. High-quality brushes are denser, allowing for smoother application. Less dense paintbrush bristles house air pockets that cause bubbles in the finish.

4 Load the brush sparingly with polyurethane. A thick application of polyurethane creates bubbles between the substrate and the polyurethane.

5 Apply coats of polyurethane in one direction only. Avoid brushing polyurethane back and forth over the wood surface. Going back over the surface picks up the applied polyurethane enough to allow air under the coat and traps it causing bubbles.

6 Pour polyurethane into a painter's tray slowly. Fast pouring causes agitation, leading to air bubbles.

7 Set the brush in the painting tray to allow the foam or bristled brush to absorb the polyurethane. Submerging and immediately coating the surface creates air bubbles.

8 Add 10 per cent naphtha, white spirit, turpentine or other thinner as recommended by the polyurethane manufacturer, to make the polyurethane more fluid, especially during hot weather.

9 Apply second and subsequent coats after the previous coat dries completely, typically four to six hours, depending on the humidity, temperature and thickness of the coat. Putting a coat of polyurethane on top of a tacky coat creates bubbles between the coats.

10 Use fresh polyurethane. Polyurethane thickens over time making a bubble-free application difficult. If the polyurethane develops a white film or skin on top, while still in the can, throw the polyurethane away.

Tips and warnings

Lightly sand polyurethane with 320-grit or finer sandpaper between applications to promote better adhesion between coats.

Work in a well-ventilated area when using polyurethane.

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