Wipe on poly is an awesome product to use to add a layer of protection to your painted furniture. It’s easy and fast to apply, easy to clean up, and relatively inexpensive. There is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to wipe on poly, so I’m here to s with you the tricks I’ve learned along the way to make your experience a little better. (Scroll down for a video tutorial demonstrating how to apply wipe on poly.)
Oil Based v. Water Based
Does it ever seem like this is a never ending question?
As usual the issue with oil based is that it oils over time, and oil based wipe on poly is no exception… There are benefits to it though -it’s easier to apply than its water based counterpart because it stays wet much longer – also its a little bit cheaper and easier to get a hold of. So if you are going to be working on something that is painted a medium to dark color, or its stained or natural wood – use oil based.
If your going to be working on a white or light-colored piece of furniture. Even some really light natural wood – use water based. It doesn’t yel over time, so your color will stay truer. (I say truer because just like wax, it darkens the color just a bit – so plan for that.) The problems with water-based wipe on poly are that chalk paint soaks it up like a sponge – so to get a clean smooth finish your going to want to dilute it with water. I use a 50: 50 ratio for water and wipe on poly. (You can also do this with oil based wipe on poly if you’re having streaking issues – just substitute the water for mineral spirits or lacquer thinner.) This solves the issue so that it stays wet long enough to work it in and avoid streaks – but you might find that you need to put on another coat to get the protection you’re looking for. The other problem with this stuff is that its only available in California…. wait what? Yes, this product is only distributed to stores in California. So if you want to purchase this product outside of California – you will need to do so online. I bought mine through amazon for about $17 including shipping for a pint. A pint goes a long way – Generally I can get 3 large pieces with one pint because I dilute it down.
Water based wipe on poly is a little bit harder to work with in the beginning and takes some practice, but its a good alternative to wax for light colors. (I still use wax by the way, just not when I’m glazing – find out why!)
Hope this information is helpful!