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Poly scratching off...

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Jun 13, 2013, 11:20 PM
Christina L
Poly scratching off...
I think I got some terrible advice... I'm hoping someone will have an easy fix for me!

I am brand new to staining and took on my first project after seeing the work a friend did on her kitchen cabinets. I purchased a gel stain and Minwax water based poly (semi-gloss), at the suggestion of the salesperson at the store. Using a fine grit sandpaper, I sanded the existing finish off of my bathroom cabinets and got started on the stain.

The staining was easy, it went on great with three coats (I waited at least two days between each coat) and I had no issues. Then it came time to apply the poly. The salesman said that I really didn't need to sand again before applying the poly (mistake #1?). As I was applying the first coat, I noticed that it didn't look quite right... It didn't look like it was going on very even and seemed to "separate". Being new to all of this I assumed this was normal and went on to apply three total coats, waiting a day between each (again, not sanding between each, per the salesperson). After the third coat it looked much better and had an even finish to it.

Once the final coat had been dry for two days, I went to put the cabinet doors back on. As I was lining up the doors, my nails brushed against the surface and scratched it right off. What!!!!! I lightly ran my nail across an inconspicuous spot and again, the poly scratched right off with little effort.

I am at a loss. What can I do to fix this? These cabinets are in a high traffic bathroom and will ultimately get scratched to death unless I can get this fixed!

Any advice would be appreciated!
Jun 14, 2013, 12:00 PM
Hi Christina L,

First off Minwax is a fine product that I have used and what you are experiencing is a bit unusual. I have used the latex version of the Minwax poly on stairnosing and bullnosing which is subject to foot traffic in our sunken living room. It has stood up well with no marks etc. on it for the last 10 years. So your experience strikes me as being odd.

Minwax makes 2 versions of polyurethane, a solvent based version and a latex version. The difference is in the clean up. The solvent based uses paint thinners for cleaning while the latex uses soap and water. They are also different out of the can with the solvent based being a golden yellowish colour while the latex is milky white. It is the latter version I've used and am familiar with.

As far as how you applied the stain and poly, sanding after staining is not needed, though light sanding between each coats of poly is often used, though not always necessary. It is possible that you did not allow sufficient time for drying between coats because of humidity, etc. or for some reason the first coat failed to bond properly to the stained surface.

I would recommend that you take one of the cabinet doors back to where you bought the Minwax stain and poly and show them your product and ask what they recommend you do. Minwax also has a Toll Free # 800-523-9299 and they also recommend that when you have issues you try their Shop Talk Forum which is at the following link: Supposedly this Forum has many users who offer assistance and recommendations of how to deal with issues like yours and how to correct them. Many who offer assistance are very familiar with the Minwax product line and how best to use them to get the desired results.

Others may have additional suggestions.

Good Luck!
Jun 14, 2013, 12:19 PM

i'm at a loss, the directions say to let it alone for 7 days. do not put rugs on or walk on for 7 days. maybe thats why?

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Frodo,*****?v=vn7bkncf1_E
Jun 14, 2013, 04:47 PM
simplyme's advice to phone minwax is excellent. I've called them about a problem and got the advice I needed
Jun 18, 2013, 11:38 AM
if the stain was oil-based, it has to be absolutely dry as a bone before you can put a water-based poly over it. I expect Minwax support will tell you to sand off the poly, wait X days, and test-apply again on one door to see if it's fully dry.

what I would have done over oil stain was use oil-based poly. the base resin is usually alkyd polymer, so it will yellow with sunlight. Varathane brand uses a different non-alkyd base, so it yellows with age and sun. Minwax and other brands generally use alkyd, so they tend to a deeper yellow, toward amber, so I'm told in some woodworking blogs and forums.

water-based polyurethane doesn't yellow, but it can form white rings with sitting water. some brands are more resistant, and newer formulations reduce it considerably. it used to be an absolute no-no on horizontal surfaces and wet areas because of this. it is now generally acceptable from the major brands.

oil over water blisters. water over oil comes off.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: swschrad,

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