Water-based polyurethane drying cloudy

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Forum topic by ShaylaS posted 02-02-2015 02:55 PM 7737 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1445 days

02-02-2015 02:55 PM

Topic tags/keywords: polyurethane chalk paint

I painted my kitchen table with a dark gray colored chalk paint (the annie sloan kind) and am trying to finish it with water-based Varthane Polyurethane from the can. The first attempt looked terrible, really cloudy, and I think I applied too much with a roller brush in too cool of a temperature (it was ~60 outside).

After reading a bit I used a really fine grit steel wool to lightly sand it out, applied a new coat of paint and then tried applying lighter coats of the poly with inexpensive foam brushes. It was warmer out, I waited 2 hours in between coats and applied 3 thin coats. At first it looked a lot better but after about 4 days I am seeing the cloudy stuff again. Suggestions?

Any help would be appreciated!

4 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5229 posts in 2727 days

#1 posted 02-02-2015 02:59 PM

Is it gloss finish (the Varathane), or a semi gloss? Wondering about the flattners not being stirred in enough.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 2653 days

#2 posted 02-02-2015 03:15 PM

I know that if you overbrush General Finishes waterbased finish it will get cloudy. Just lay it on with the foam brush, don’t work it back and forth. Just a suggestion.

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 2924 days

#3 posted 02-02-2015 04:03 PM

#1 – It’s called blush and it’s caused by trapping moisture in the finish. First attempt may have been too cold and high humidity. Second attempt, better, but maybe do this inside with a heater running to get the temp up and humidity down. #2 – Never use a roller, foam brush is better. #3 – Never use steel wool on water borne finish, 3M Scotchbrite pads are made for that. Big box store, and they say what they should be used for on the package – such as “final finishing pad” or “in between coats pad”.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View ShaylaS's profile


2 posts in 1445 days

#4 posted 02-03-2015 03:40 AM

Thanks for the replies! The Varathane is Clear Satin. I also actually had a space heater on at the time, but also had the windows open since it was about 72 outside that day, so maybe that was bad. The thing that is odd is that I also painted chairs and finished them with the foam brush and poly when I was re-painting the table top. The chairs turned out fine.

Originally what brought me to this forum was this post:

It looked like this person had a similar problem based on the initial photo but I couldn’t figure out what exactly the final advice was…either way the final result looked so much better. Is this just a different finish that she ended up going with?

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