DIY - Furniture Painting

How to Apply a Durable Polyurethane Top Coat to Painted Furniture

Its time to finally finish up this dresser that we began painting weeks ago! In all actuality I painted it in 3 days but you are going to see the final results today! And I really cannot wait to share them with you! The final step to painting this dresser is adding the durable polyurethane top coat to finish it off. If you missed it this is part of my introduction to furniture painting series! You can start Here and link to each of the posts detailing the steps to get to this one!

How to Apply a Durable Polyurethane Top Coat To Painted Furniture

Having worked with other polyurethane top coats in the past I admit that this step can be a little bit daunting! Without the right product and tools the last piece I painted which was a bedframe, ended up yellow and with lots of imperfections to the topcoat application. Streaky, brush steaks and drips that dried in place. The exact things I would have wanted to avoid to begin with. That being said I get it. Its not easy and it can be a pain in the butt to execute well!

That was about 5 years ago and there are some great products out there now that I think will give you a huge headstart from what I worked with then.

Disclaimer this post contains affiliate links.

Step One to Applying a Polyurethane Top Coat

Using a paint brush was my biggest mistake with my first polyurethane top coat application. DO NOT USE A BRUSH! You can solve the majority of polyurethane top coat applications by simply using a foam paint roller! I like to also follow up with a small foam paint brush so that I can easily get into the cracks and crevices and all the little details.

Having the right tools and products are going to be a game changer!

Also its important to note that polyurethane doesn’t come out of what ever you use to apply it with. That’s another reason I like foam rollers and foam paint brushes. They are inexpensive and I don’t have to feel bad about tossing them after I finish the polyurethane top coat.

Picking the Right Polyurethane Top Coat For Your Project

I can’t lie before I started painting furniture I didn’t even realize there was more than one option for polyurethane top coats. I just assumed it was a single product and that was it! Wrong! Then and even more now, there are quite a few different options for polyurethane top coats. I’ve been testing out new ones to see if they are better than ones I’ve used in the past and YES! they really are!

I decided that for this project I needed something very durable that could hold up to my 7 year old twin boys. This dresser is going to live in their room and they are rambunctious boys after all so It needed to be able to hold up to hot wheels, dinosaur travels and so much more! As I was in the hardware store looking for a polyurethane top coat I found this one on the shelf. It is a triple thick ultra durable Varathane poly top coat. It sounded like just the product for the job! I decided that it would be worth the gamble if it did what it said it would!

Review of the Triple Polyurethane Top Coat Used For This Dresser

It boasts that it applies 3 coats in one! and that it can withstand the heaviest traffic. The dresser is finished and has been in my boys room for about 4 weeks. I can attest that this is true! The first week one of my boys scribbled on the top with a pen #seriously?!!! I was really surprised that even though the pen indention still remained the pen marks washed off, and the top coat stayed in tact! They have played on it as usual with their toys and it still looks as it did on day one! I am truly impressed!

It also applied in one coat very well I only added a second coat to just the top. I was worried that because it was “triple thick” it would be goopy and tough to work with and apply. Not the case at all It applied beautifully and evenly. Before the first coat dried down I could still see the roller strokes. Once it dried completely those pretty much disappeared as well.

The only thing I didn’t love about this product was even though I purchased the “matte” one it wasn’t truly matte. I would say its more of an eggshell/satin finish. That didn’t bother me for the dresser I used it on. However, if you’re looking for a product that is truly matte. THIS ONE is your guy!product that is truly matte. THIS ONE is your guy! I’ll talk more about it when I share the next project for this series!

Step Two

Now that you have your polyurethane top coat?your polyurethane top coat and tools your ready to begin! make sure you piece is nice and clean and dust free. If you don’t anything that’s on it will get trapped in this clear layer of polyurethane and will be frozen in time forever!

I like to start at the top and work my way down. That way if anything drips or spills I can see it and fix it as I work my way from one portion to the next.

I just dip my foam roller right into the can and start applying smooth even strokes. I also make sure to work quick so that the polyurethane top coat doesn’t begin to dry as I apply it. Top coats have a tendency to dry quick! So quick but smooth strokes are key.

I like to work on one area finish it and move on to the next. If I have a surface like the sides that have more details its time to pull out the foam paint brush. I apply the polyurethane top coat using the foam paint brush where the roller wont reach. Then I go back and roll it out with the roller so the consistency is the same.

Step three

Let it dry! This product dried down very quickly and like I said really had great coverage. For added protection I added a second coat just to the top.

Step Four

That’s it!! Once the polyurethane top coats dried its done!

Here is also a quick picture of the contrast between the areas that have the polyurethane top coat vs. those that don’t. It really enhances the paint.

I add my hardware back on and moved it inside and let me tell you I love it! If you missed the before head over to THIS post!?

Thank you for joining me as I painted this dresser from start to finish! If you are looking for more furniture painting tutorials don’t worry! I’ll be back next week to start on a second piece using milk paint! One of my all time favorite products! I can’t wait to show you! Thanks again for stopping by!

XO Haley

2 Comments on “How to Apply a Durable Polyurethane Top Coat to Painted Furniture

  1. Thank you for the great introduction to painting a dresser. I now feel confident that I can for the first time paint my sons dresser.

    1. So happy that this is helping you!! Good luck painting! Be sure to send me pictures of your final product I’d love to see how it goes!

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