How to seal painted wood

Written by jennifer painter
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A beautifully painted wood surface can be quickly ruined if it is not properly protected. Painted wood furniture is especially susceptible to nicks, scratches, and water rings. A clear polyurethane topcoat can seal your painted wood surfaces and protect them from damage if properly applied. Follow these steps to seal painted wood with a clear polyurethane coating.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Dust Sheets
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Clean Cloth
  • Clear Polyurethane
  • Paint Tray
  • Paint Brush
  • Fine-Grit Sandpaper

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  1. 1

    Wait at least four to seven days after painting the wood before you apply a sealer.

  2. 2

    Protect your floor with dust sheets, and protect your hands with rubber gloves.

  3. 3

    Wipe the newly painted surface lightly with a damp cloth to remove dust. Allow the surface to dry completely.

  4. 4

    Apply a thin coat of polyurethane with long overlapping strokes of the brush.

  5. 5

    Allow the thin coat of polyurethane to dry according to the product instructions.

  6. 6

    Lightly sand the polyurethane surface with fine-grit sandpaper (at least 220 grit) to remove any tiny bumps or imperfections.

  7. 7

    Wipe the surface with a damp cloth to remove sanding residue and allow the surface to dry completely.

  8. 8

    Repeat the application process (steps four through seven) until two to three coats of polyurethane are applied.

Tips and warnings

  • If you are sealing painted wood that will be outdoors, make sure you use a product designed to endure the outdoor environment.
  • Polyurethane is available in several finishes. Choose a matt finish for no gloss, or choose a semigloss or gloss to add shine.
  • Polyurethane is also available in spray cans. If you are sealing an uneven surface or painted wood with a lot of detail, spray polyurethane is a great choice. Remember to apply thin coats and sand in between applications.
  • Never apply polyurethane without proper ventilation.

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