Choosing the best brush for applying oil-based polyurethane can make all the difference in achieving a smooth, professional-looking finish on your woodworking projects. With so many brush options on the market, it's important to understand the key factors to consider before making a purchase.
The bristle type, bristle shape, brush size, and brush quality all play important roles. Natural bristle brushes are ideal for oil-based polyurethanes, as they offer smooth application without leaving behind stray brush hairs. A high-quality natural bristle brush with tapered edges can reach corners and crevices easily. Testing out sample brush strokes on scrap wood can also help determine if the brush has the right stiffness and spring to apply the polyurethane evenly.
It's also crucial to think about the scale of your project and select a brush size accordingly to avoid fatigue from brushing large surfaces with a small brush. Cleaning and caring for your brush properly will also maximize its longevity. Taking the time to find the right brush will pay dividends in providing the smooth, durable finish you seek.
Ready to explore your oil-based polyurethane brush options? Let's dive into the specifics of bristle types, shapes, and sizes to determine the best fit for your next woodworking project. A quality brush well-suited for the task makes all the difference.
6 Best Brush For Oil Based Polyurethane
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The product is ideal for applying a protective and durable semi-gloss finish on various surfaces such as wood furniture or floors.
The product is ideal for providing a glossy finish and protecting floors from wear and tear.
The product is ideal for providing a durable and clear finish on wooden surfaces.
The product is ideal for adding a glossy protective coating to various surfaces.
The product is ideal for painting tight spaces or cutting in around edges and corners.
The product is ideal for providing a protective and clear semi-gloss finish on wood surfaces.
1. Rust-Oleum Varathane 6041h Oil-Based Ultimate Polyurethane, Quart, Semi-Gloss Finish
I recently completed a painting project on my semi-glass dining table set using this polyurethane, and I must say I am extremely pleased with the results. While it does have a strong smell and is thicker than water-based polys, the finish it gave my table is absolutely fantastic. I applied four coats of the polyurethane to protect my table from my three little kids, who love to play with cars on it, and so far, it has held up well.
The application process was easy, with shorter wait times between coats. I found that storing the paint brush in a plastic zip lock bag in the fridge between coats worked well. I usually use cheaper brushes for oil-based projects so that I can discard them when I'm done. Despite using a cheap brush, the polyurethane went on smoothly without any drips. It worked exactly as expected.
I also used this polyurethane to seal various water-based furniture that I had painted. While it does have a slightly unpleasant smell, it is not too strong and can be easily managed with the help of a fan for air circulation. I recommend stirring the polyurethane instead of shaking it to minimize the formation of bubbles. A little goes a long way, and it's important to avoid going over areas that have already been coated until they are fully dry, as this could result in noticeable marks. I left my side tables to dry for two days, although it probably didn't need that long; I was just being cautious. Cleaning up is a breeze if you catch any spills with a damp cloth right away.
In addition to my dining table set, I also used this product to apply a finish to my dining room chairs after painting them black. It created a tough, shiny protective finish without leaving any brush marks. It's worth noting that this polyurethane has a yellow color in the can, so I cannot speak to how it would look over a light-colored paint. However, it works beautifully on stained wood or dark paints. The thickness of the polyurethane is a key feature, but it's important to avoid overbrushing, as it dries quickly.
2. Varathane Gloss Oil-Based Polyurethane Floor Finish
I recently tried out this polyurethane finish and I must say, it exceeded my expectations. Not only is it more affordable than Minwax, but it also offers a range of benefits that make it worth the investment.
Firstly, this polyurethane is oil-based, which means it does have a strong chemical smell initially. However, I found that with proper ventilation, the smell dissipates within 3-4 hours. In comparison to Minwax, the lingering smell is much less noticeable.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quick drying time of this polyurethane. After just 4 hours, I was able to walk on the floors without any stickiness. This is a huge advantage, especially if you're working on a time-sensitive project.
The finish itself provides a beautiful amber hue to wooden floors, giving them a warm and inviting look. I've used various polyurethane finishes in the past, but this one stands out in terms of longevity and durability. I typically apply it every 2 years during dry, cool autumn weather to maintain the beauty of my floors.
One thing to note is that it's best to avoid applying this finish during spring, as pollen can get trapped in the finish. This could potentially affect the overall appearance and quality of the floors.
In terms of maintenance, I found that cleaning this finish is a breeze. A barely dampened Swiffer mop with water is sufficient to keep the shine intact. This is particularly useful for those who have pets or struggle with keeping their floors pristine.
As a first-time DIY floor refinisher, I followed the recommended application process and was pleased with the results. I stripped the floors with alcohol, sanded them, and used the provided applicator for a smooth and even coat. I applied 4 coats, allowing 24 hours between each coat and sanding in between. The finish looks fantastic, although I can't comment on its longevity just yet.
One important thing to keep in mind is that you may need more than the recommended amount of this polyurethane. Depending on your application technique or any gaps in the flooring boards, you may require additional product. It's always a good idea to have extra on hand during your project.
3. Zar 33912 Oil Based Polyurethane Wood Finish, Qt, Clear
I recently purchased this oil-based polyurethane for my new table, and I must say it exceeded my expectations. My main goal was to protect the table while achieving a flat, dull look, and this product delivered exactly that. I was pleased to find that it was the only oil-based poly I could find that provided the desired finish.
The application process was a breeze. The poly went on smoothly, giving me ample time to brush it in and work with it. I applied two coats, lightly sanding in between with #800 sandpaper. I decided to let the first coat dry for four hours instead of the recommended two, just to ensure optimal results.
I highly recommend using a natural-bristle brush for application, and the guys at Home Depot were helpful in finding the right one for me. Cleaning the brush was also a breeze, as regular paint thinner did the trick in minutes.
In my quest to repair scratches on my high-end hardwood floor, I came across this product and I couldn't be happier with the outcome. I needed something that would effectively repair moderately severe scratches caused by my energetic German Shepherd puppies. While Varathane and Minwax were the logical choices, they were only available in large quantities, which was unnecessary for my needs. Thankfully, I found this smaller size on Amazon for a fair price.
The delivery of the product was prompt, and it arrived in perfect condition without any leaks or damage. As advertised, it dried quickly and provided an elegant flat finish that perfectly matched my floor. This was a pleasant surprise, as most polyurethanes in stores only come in satin finishes that tend to dry glossy.
I highly recommend this product for anyone in need of a smaller quantity and a fast-drying, flat finish. It worked wonders on my hardwood floor and effectively concealed the scratches left behind by my mischievous pets. The quality of the finish is impeccable, and I couldn't be happier with the results.
I cannot express enough how incredible this polyurethane is. After reading recommendations from professionals on a woodworking site, I knew I had to give ZAR oil-based poly a try, and it did not disappoint. I used it on my new kitchen butcher block countertops, and the outcome was truly impressive.
Even my woodworker friend couldn't believe that we had done it ourselves. The finish was incredibly even, with no bubbles and a beautiful color. It even darkened the wood slightly, enhancing its natural beauty. Despite being a first-time DIYer, I found the application process to be nearly foolproof. The self-leveling quality of this polyurethane played a significant role in achieving such excellent results.
The durability of the finish has been outstanding over the past six months, considering the heavy use our countertops endure. I am confident in saying that I will never purchase a different polyurethane again. This product has proven to be extremely durable and has surpassed all my expectations.
I have attached some before-and-after photos to showcase the transformation in color and the level of shine from different angles. The cherry wood countertops now have a stunning finish that adds a touch of elegance to our kitchen.
4. Rust-Oleum Watco 68041 Wipe-On Polyurethane Finish, Quart, Clear Gloss
The Watco Danish Oil wood finish is a fantastic product that provides a great finish for fine wood objects. It is a fine and delicate poly that differs from other thick and coarse finishes. I highly recommend using the Watco Danish Oil as a base coat before applying the Watco Wipe-On Poly.
To achieve the best results, begin by brushing on the Watco Danish Oil and allowing it to soak into the wood for 10 minutes. Apply another coat of oil and wait an additional 10 minutes before wiping off any excess. Let the wood dry for 2-3 days before moving on to the next step.
Once the Danish Oil has dried, apply the Watco Wipe-On Poly using a clean rag or a dry brush. Ensure that you leave a very thin coat and let it dry for 4 hours. Apply a second coat and let it dry for another 4 hours or overnight. Lightly sand down the surface with a 240 grit sandpaper and apply a final thin coat of poly using a brush or rag. Allow this coat to cure for a week to ensure complete hardening. While it will be dry to the touch in 4 hours, full curing takes about a week, similar to any paint or varnish.
If you are working on a picture frame or a piece of furniture, this Poly is an excellent sealer. However, if you are refinishing an artisan jewelry box with inlaid wood and desire a finish that feels like satin under your fingers, the Watco Satin Wax finish is recommended in addition to the Danish Oil. By using 400 or 600 grit Wet Dry sandpaper on the Danish Oil finish, the Satin Wax will provide a silky smooth top coat. It is important to note that the wax does not seal the wood as effectively as the Poly does.
I have personally tested this Poly on top of Boiled Linseed Oil finished wood and found it to hold up very well. Just ensure that the wood has dried out between the oil application and the Poly topcoat. I find that using an oil on wood is like using cream on dry skin, as it conditions the wood nicely before being sealed off. The Watco Wipe-On Poly is an excellent choice for fine wood finishes as it effectively seals the wood and is incredibly easy to apply. I highly recommend it for any wood shop.
As a woodworker with 50 years of experience, I understand that finishing a project can often be challenging. However, the Watco Wipe-On Poly makes it incredibly easy to achieve a natural finish with minimal effort. The finish is highly durable, and the cost is reasonable, especially considering the amount of time spent building a project. I recently used this product on a white oak parsons table, and the results were beautiful. The natural grain of the wood was enhanced, and there was minimal yellowing or coloration. Personally, I prefer clear finishes over stains, as they allow the natural beauty of the wood to shine through.
It's worth mentioning that Fine Woodworking Magazine has reviewed this product, along with several other wood finishes, in the past couple of years. They conducted extensive tests on clarity, durability, water resistance, and ease of application, among other factors. The Watco Wipe-On Poly ranked in the top 2 or 3 finishes, and the article provided valuable insights. I highly recommend checking it out for further information.
5. Wooster Brush Z3215-2 Shortcut White Bristle Angle Sash Paintbrush, 2-Inch, 2 Inch
I recently had the opportunity to try out the Shortcut brush and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by its performance. When it comes to applying stain, this brush is a game changer. The short and flexible handle allows for greater precision and control, resulting in a more precise application. I also noticed that I was able to apply the product faster, thanks to the efficient design of the brush.
One of the standout features of the Shortcut brush is its handle. Unlike traditional brushes with long handles, this brush has a short handle that doesn't get in the way during use. I found this to be incredibly convenient and it made the painting process much easier. Additionally, the handle is made of rubber, which adds to the comfort and grip of the brush.
I have been using the Shortcut brush for many years now and it has become my go-to brush for all my painting needs. I was thrilled to find that I could purchase them online, as they can be hard to find in stores. What I love most about these brushes is that they are durable and I have never experienced any issues with bristles falling out.
These short-handled brushes have completely transformed my painting experience. They make it incredibly easy to cut in and paint edges, particularly when working on walls, trim, and ceilings. The comfort they provide during use is unparalleled, allowing for precise and professional-looking results. I recently painted the entire interior of my 2200 sq ft house and thanks to these brushes, it looks exceptionally well-done.
The size of the Shortcut brush is another feature that I absolutely adore. It fits perfectly in my hand, providing a comfortable grip that makes painting a breeze. The rubbery and soft handle adds to the overall comfort and ease of use. Furthermore, the compact size of the brush allows it to fit perfectly in my "tool box," making it convenient to carry around.
Lastly, the quality of the bristles on the Shortcut brush is outstanding. I could clearly see the difference between this brush and cheaper alternatives. The bristles are sturdy and hold up well during use, ensuring a smooth and even application of paint or stain.
6. Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane Protective Wood Finish, Clear Semi-Gloss, 1 Quart
I recently purchased this oil-based polyurethane for my kitchen table and I am extremely satisfied with the results. The varnish on the table was starting to peel off, but after sanding it down, staining it, and applying six coats of this polyurethane, my table looks brand new. The water now beads up and runs off the table, making it easy to clean up spills without any damage to the surface.
I do want to note that applying this polyurethane in a low humidity environment was a bit challenging. It dried very quickly, so I had to use a roller to avoid brush marks. However, this sometimes caused bubbles to form. In the future, I would mix in some mineral spirits to allow the bubbles and brush marks to settle before the polyurethane sets. Alternatively, the company also offers a wipe-on polyurethane that goes on thinner and eliminates this challenge.
Aside from my kitchen table, I have also used this polyurethane on oak railings and a butcher block desk top, both with great success. After sanding and staining the wood, I applied multiple light coats of the polyurethane using a respirator and doing it outdoors. I then used sandpaper to smooth out any imperfections and wiped the surface clean. For the railings, I applied a total of three coats, while the desk received a total of ten coats for added protection. The final result was a smooth and flawless finish.
I have previously used brush-on polyurethane, but I find this spray version much easier to work with as it prevents streaks and air bubbles. Despite some reports of flaking over time, I have not experienced any issues with my stair handrails, which endure a lot of abuse from my kids. Properly prepping the surface is key to ensuring a long-lasting finish.
Are there any special techniques for applying oil-based polyurethane with a brush?
Yes, there are some special techniques that can help you achieve a smooth and professional finish when applying oil-based polyurethane with a brush. Here are a few tips:
1. Prepare the surface: Ensure that the surface you're applying the polyurethane to is clean, dry, and free from any dust or debris. Sand the surface lightly with fine-grit sandpaper to create a smooth and even base.
2. Stir the polyurethane: Before starting, stir the polyurethane thoroughly to mix any settled solids and ensure a consistent application.
3. Use a high-quality brush: Choose a high-quality brush specifically designed for oil-based finishes. A brush with natural bristles, such as China bristle brushes, works best for oil-based polyurethane.
4. Apply thin coats: Apply thin coats of polyurethane rather than thick ones. This helps to prevent drips, bubbles, and uneven drying. Start with a small amount of polyurethane on the brush and apply it in long, smooth strokes, working with the grain of the wood.
5. Feather the edges: To avoid visible brush strokes, lightly feather the edges of each stroke as you apply the polyurethane. This helps to blend the strokes together and create a seamless finish.
6. Allow drying time: Follow the instructions on the polyurethane can for the recommended drying time between coats. Typically, it is best to wait for several hours before applying additional coats.
Remember to work in a well-ventilated area, and if necessary, use a respirator mask for your safety. With these techniques, you can achieve a beautiful and durable finish when applying oil-based polyurethane with a brush.
Can I reuse a brush that has been used for oil-based polyurethane on another project?
Yes, you can reuse a brush that has been used for oil-based polyurethane on another project, but it requires proper cleaning and maintenance. Oil-based polyurethane can leave a residue on the brush, making it difficult to use for other projects if not cleaned properly.
Here's how you can clean the brush:
1. Immediately after use, wipe off any excess polyurethane from the brush using a cloth or paper towel.
2. Fill a container with an appropriate solvent, such as mineral spirits or paint thinner.
3. Dip the brush into the solvent and swirl it around to loosen the polyurethane from the bristles.
4. Remove the brush from the solvent and wipe off any remaining residue with a cloth or paper towel.
5. Repeat the process if necessary until the brush appears clean.
6. Rinse the brush with warm soapy water to remove any remaining solvent.
7. Finally, reshape the bristles by combing them with your fingers and let the brush air dry.
By following these steps, you can effectively clean an oil-based polyurethane brush and reuse it for future projects.
Can I use a foam brush to apply oil-based polyurethane?
Yes, you can use a foam brush to apply oil-based polyurethane. Foam brushes are commonly used for applying finishes such as polyurethane because they provide a smooth and even application. When using a foam brush, it is important to apply the polyurethane in thin, even coats to avoid drips or bubbles.
Start by dipping the foam brush into the polyurethane and then lightly brush it onto the surface, following the direction of the wood grain. Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next coat.
It's also important to clean the foam brush thoroughly after each use, as oil-based polyurethane can harden and ruin the brush if left to dry. Overall, using a foam brush can be an effective method for applying oil-based polyurethane, but it's always a good idea to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for best results.
Can I use a regular paintbrush to apply oil-based polyurethane?
Yes, you can use a regular paintbrush to apply oil-based polyurethane. However, it is recommended to use a high-quality natural bristle brush specifically designed for oil-based finishes. Synthetic brushes may not provide the best results with oil-based products.
When using a paintbrush for oil-based polyurethane, make sure to choose a brush with bristles that are compatible with oil-based finishes. Natural bristle brushes are preferred because they hold more paint and provide a smoother finish.
It is important to use a clean brush that is free from any debris or previous paint residue to ensure a smooth and even application.
Before applying the polyurethane, it is advisable to stir the product thoroughly to ensure proper consistency. Apply the polyurethane using long, even strokes in the direction of the wood grain. Avoid overbrushing or applying too much product at once to prevent streaks or bubbles.
Remember to clean the brush immediately after use with the appropriate solvent, as oil-based products can be challenging to remove once they dry.
How do I clean a brush used for oil-based polyurethane?
To clean a brush used for oil-based polyurethane, you will need to follow these steps:
1. Start by removing as much excess polyurethane as possible from the brush. You can do this by wiping the brush on the edge of the can or container.
2. Fill a container with an appropriate solvent for oil-based finishes, such as mineral spirits or paint thinner. Make sure to use a container that you don't mind getting dirty.
3. Dip the brush into the solvent and swirl it around gently. This will help to dissolve the polyurethane and loosen it from the bristles.
4. After swirling the brush, use a brush comb or a wire brush to remove any remaining polyurethane from the bristles. Be careful not to damage the bristles while doing this.
5. Rinse the brush under running water to remove the solvent and any leftover polyurethane. Make sure to squeeze out any excess water from the bristles.
6. Finally, hang the brush upside down or lay it flat to dry completely before storing it. This will help to maintain the shape of the bristles.
If you do not have access to the appropriate solvents or if the brush is heavily coated with polyurethane, it might be best to consider replacing the brush instead.
How should I prepare my brush before using it with oil-based polyurethane?
Before using a brush with oil-based polyurethane, it is important to properly prepare it to achieve the best results. Here are the steps you should follow:
1. Choose the right brush: Select a high-quality brush specifically designed for oil-based finishes. A brush with natural bristles, such as China bristle, is ideal for oil-based polyurethane.
2. Clean the brush: If the brush is new, wash it with warm soapy water to remove any loose bristles or debris. If it has been previously used, clean it thoroughly with a solvent such as mineral spirits to remove any residual paint or finish.
3. Condition the brush: To condition the bristles and improve their ability to hold and distribute the polyurethane, dip the brush in mineral spirits and gently work it through the bristles. Then, remove the excess solvent by tapping the brush against the side of the container.
4. Load the brush: Dip the brush into the oil-based polyurethane, making sure to only load about one-third of the bristle length to prevent drips and runs.
5. Apply the polyurethane: Start applying the polyurethane in smooth, even strokes, following the direction of the wood grain. Avoid excessive brushing or overworking the finish, as it can lead to brush marks or bubbles.
By properly preparing your brush, you can ensure a smooth and professional-looking finish with oil-based polyurethane.
Is it necessary to use a specific type of brush for oil-based polyurethane on wood floors?
When applying oil-based polyurethane on wood floors, it is recommended to use a specific type of brush for best results. A high-quality natural bristle brush is commonly used for this purpose. Natural bristle brushes are made from animal hair and are known for their ability to hold and distribute oil-based finishes effectively.
The reason why a natural bristle brush is preferred for oil-based polyurethane is that it allows for smooth and even application, ensuring that the finish is evenly spread across the wood surface. Additionally, natural bristle brushes tend to be softer, which helps to minimize brush marks and create a more professional-looking finish.
It is important to note that synthetic brushes, such as those made from nylon or polyester, are not recommended for oil-based polyurethane. Synthetic brushes are better suited for water-based finishes. Using a synthetic brush with oil-based polyurethane may result in brush marks and an uneven finish.
In summary, while it is not absolutely necessary, using a high-quality natural bristle brush is highly recommended when applying oil-based polyurethane on wood floors to achieve the best possible finish.
What are the pros and cons of using a natural bristle brush versus a synthetic brush for oil-based polyurethane?
When it comes to choosing between a natural bristle brush and a synthetic brush for applying oil-based polyurethane, there are a few pros and cons to consider.
Natural bristle brushes, typically made from animal hair, have been traditionally used for oil-based finishes. One of the main advantages of using a natural bristle brush is that it provides a smoother finish and helps to minimize brush strokes.
Natural bristle brushes also hold more paint, allowing for larger areas to be covered before needing to reload the brush. They are also generally more affordable compared to high-quality synthetic brushes.
However, there are a few downsides to using natural bristle brushes. They are not suitable for water-based finishes, as they tend to absorb water and become limp. Natural bristle brushes also require more maintenance and care, as they need to be cleaned with specific solvents to remove oil-based finishes effectively.
On the other hand, synthetic brushes, typically made of nylon or polyester, have their own advantages. They are more durable and can withstand the harsh chemicals present in oil-based polyurethane. Synthetic brushes are also easier to clean, as they can be washed with soap and water.
Additionally, they are suitable for both water-based and oil-based finishes, making them more versatile.
However, synthetic brushes may not provide the same level of smoothness as natural bristle brushes. They can leave behind visible brush strokes, especially on large surfaces. Synthetic brushes also tend to hold less paint, which may result in more frequent reloading.
In conclusion, the choice between a natural bristle brush and a synthetic brush for oil-based polyurethane depends on personal preference and the desired finish. If a smooth finish with minimal brush strokes is a priority, a natural bristle brush may be the better option.
However, if durability, versatility, and easier maintenance are more important, a high-quality synthetic brush may be the way to go.
What size brush should I use for applying oil-based polyurethane to large surfaces?
When applying oil-based polyurethane to large surfaces, it is recommended to use a brush that is at least 2 inches wide. This size allows for better coverage and smoother application. A wider brush can hold more product, reducing the need for frequent dipping into the can and ensuring a more consistent finish.
Additionally, using a brush with synthetic bristles, such as nylon or polyester, is ideal for oil-based polyurethane as it will not absorb the product like natural bristles would. This allows for easier cleaning and a longer lifespan for the brush.
However, it is always a good idea to consult the manufacturer's recommendations or test the brush on a small inconspicuous area before applying to the entire surface to ensure desired results.
What type of brush is best for applying oil-based polyurethane?
When it comes to applying oil-based polyurethane, it is important to choose the right brush to achieve the best results. The ideal type of brush for this task is a natural bristle brush. Natural bristle brushes are typically made from animal hair, such as hog or ox hair.
The reason why natural bristle brushes are recommended for oil-based polyurethane is that they have the ability to hold a large amount of finish and provide a smooth application. The bristles are soft and flexible, allowing for a controlled flow of polyurethane without leaving brush strokes or marks.
It is important to note that synthetic brushes, such as those made with nylon or polyester bristles, are not suitable for oil-based polyurethane. Synthetic bristles can become stiff and do not hold as much finish, leading to an uneven application.
In conclusion, when applying oil-based polyurethane, it is best to use a natural bristle brush for a smooth and professional finish.