Advice needed on putting poly on wood interior doors

I just spent the most frustrating 2 hours ever trying to put fast-drying Minwax polyurethane on an interior bedroom door. I'm obviously not doing something right and I need advice from someone who's done this lots, instead of never, like me.
Here's the situation. I have an unfinished second floor in my home. We are finally getting around to finishing it, and a month or so ago we bought 4 Masonite pre-hung raised panel wooden doors from Home Depot to put on the 2 bedrooms, the bathroom, and the closet upstairs. My plan was to stain them and then poly them first before attempting to hang them.
I went away for a week in December for work, and when I got home, all the doors were up. My wife thought she'd surprise me and hired someone to put them in, since I had been walking around for a couple weeks saying I wasn't sure I'd be able to hang these doors properly myself, not having done that sort of thing before.
Anyways, now the doors are installed, but not stained or poly'd. So, I stained them a couple weeks ago. That went well. But this morning I started to poly one, and it took me 2 HOURS to do the frame and only one side of the door. It was the biggest mess you've ever seen.
I used a 3-inch foam brush (from Home Depot), as it says on the Minwax can you can use. I had poly dripping off the brush onto the floor, running down my hand and arms, bits of foam coming off getting stuck in the poly on the door .... then, just went I thought I'd gotten a good coat on a certain section, I'd catch it from another angle in the light and see a large area that didn't have any poly at all on it. The foam brush just didn't seem to be spreading the poly well and covering the door properly. Am I doing something wrong ? The Minwax instructions says a foam brush can be used but it's obviously not doing it well.
I'd like to hear from contractors, carpenters etc out there how they do this without having it become a fiasco and taking 4 weeks to do 4 doors. I stopped after the one side. How am I going to 2 sides on 4 doors, 3 times (coats) over !! It'll take me a year !
Should I spray it ? Should I use a bristle brush ? I thought the foam would work out better because I could just toss it when I was done and grab a new one for the next coat. Can't do that with a bristle brush - I'll have to clean it after each time, and then the next time, the coat won't be as smooth because the bristle's always stiffen up after cleaning in paint thinner.
I think I'm going to pull the hinge pins and take the doors down so I can poly them flat, which should get around the mess caused by the poly running on the doors, but that won't help with the pre-hung frames.
What I really need to know is the proper technique for applying poly and the proper tools to use.
Thanks for listening to my rant and hopefully someone out there has some advice for me.
Shawn
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Shawn,
Did you take the door down and lay it flat on a couple of saw horses? Did you remove all of the hardware from the frame and mask it before you began polying it? I've used poly on my doors with a cheap nylon bristle brush without any problems. Was able to put on 3 coats in a day. A good work space with adequate lighting will help a lot. I found that with light coats the door would be dry enough after 20 mins to stand up so you can do the next door. After an hour the poly was dry enough so you could do the other side. Watch out for drips along the door edges.
Dave M.
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On Sat, 15 Jan 2005 14:55:16 -0500, "Shawn"

<snip>
This is part of the problem..
The Minwax instructions says a foam brush can be used but

You said it....

Can't do that with a bristle brush - I'll have

It shouldn't if cleaned properly.

Bristle brush?
As I said I've never used that product. That said, you might consider a different one. My understanding is you would do well to consider a sanding sealer (two coats) prior to a final finish coat of varnish.
My 2 cents.
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Technique takes learning-experiance , it is not a net, reading education thing. Wake up man , people charge for talent, you have none ...
Opinions-facts, you dont want to take years to learn, or read a book, to read, or explain you are [worthless] Hire a PRo and shut up....
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I was looking for advice, not abuse. Maybe you should hang out somewhere else instead of a place where people truly like to exchange ideas for home repair and help others. Technique is not "talent". Technique can be learned. People aren't born knowing how to poly something, you idiot.

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Never done a door, but have done lots of cabinets and they have doors.
Foam brush, argh. Getting poly on with any brush is difficult without dripping and globbing; probably impossible with foam. I use wipe on poly. It is thin, so you need twice as many applications, but they each take half as long, so you are even there. The important thing is that it never drips, globs, or skips. I use rags that come 100/bag; cheaper than foam brushes even.
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Wipe on poly. I've seen that but never thought of using that in this instance. I've never seen it in gallon cans. I assume it's more expensive overall, but that could be worth the hassle ! Thanks.

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No, it is cheaper. You just add mineral spirits to regular varnish until it is thin enough to wipe. I think the last time I made it I used 1 part MS to 2 parts varnish.

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Determine whether you're using an oil-based poly or a water-based poly and use the appropriate bristle brush. I prefer a sash brush for jobs like this.

That's poor technique, which is easy to make worse with a foam brush. First, a 3" wide brush is way too wide for a lot of the work you're doing, especially if you aren't a pro. Don't overload the brush. Stroke up, not down. Remember to unload the base of the bristles from time to time by running them over an edge.

Again, poor technique. Use lots of light and paint systematically. But you are going to sand lightly and do a second coat, right? If you miss a few spots on the first coat, hit them first on the second coat before you start painting the door systematically.
--
Doug Boulter

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Thanks Doug. Those are the "been there done that" tips I needed. I appreciate it.
wrote on 15 Jan 2005:

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On 1/16/2005 9:06 AM US(ET), Shawn took fingers to keys, and typed the following:

they are not more drippy than regular brushes. The secret is in the application. Paint in an upward direction with the handle up as much as possible. When painting overhead or when the handle will be pointing down, wipe the excess paint or finish from the brush on the side of the can or tray, and then use smaller amounts of finish on the tip of the brush. Foam brushes are not all that bad. I've seen 'Norm' use them on furniture grade projects on "The New Yankee Workshop".

--
Bill

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There are gradations in the quality of foam brushes like everything else. Buy quality instead of price break.
wrote:

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I'm going to assume that you are using oil based polyurethane. As you've discovered, polyurethane handles very differently from paint.
Make sure you have properly finish sanded the doors if they need it. I doubt it is needed as you have Masonite but I don't know how rough they are.
1. Since you don't appear to have the experience, take the doors off the hinges and lay them flat. This will minimize runs and sags.
2. Dilute the poly about 25% with mineral spirits or paint thinner. Try to use the odorless kind. The purpose for thinning is to minimize any bubbles in the dried finish.
3. A foam brush is okay but they hold much less liquid than a brush. While I have no problem using them, you might want to use a brush. If you do, use a natural fiber brush (bristle, hog's hair, badger, fitch, etc.) not a synthetic brush (nylon or polyester). Synthetic bristles clump and splay with oil making for uneven application. If the foam brush is tearing, you either have really cheap ones or you are being too aggressive and the foam is tearing off as it snags on something. If you dilute the poly enough, you will have made a wiping poly. You can apply this with a rag but you will need more coats as each one is very thin.
4. Apply the polyurethane. Work from the inside of the panels out. You can work the poly into a foam if you like to get it in every nook and cranny.
5. Work with proper lighting so you can see if you are coating all the surfaces.
5. Tip off the still wet poly by holding the brush at a 45 degree angle and LIGHTLY dragging it along the freshly polyed surface. This will remove any bubbles.
6. Let the surface dry. Do NOT over brush it.
7. You should apply a second coat. You can either do so within the window of time specified on the can or let it dry overnight and then scuff sand it.
I have placed foam brushes wrapped in foil in the freezer rather than clean them or use a new one each time. My brushes tend to be expensive so I treat them better and clean them at the end of each day.
As for the frames, once you get the idea on the doors, you will see how to handle the frames.
Good Luck.

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Baron. Thanks so much. I can see that I was doing most everything wrong. I like the idea of diluting it down to a poly and wiping it on, like someone else suggested. Other than that, looks like I need to go out and get a good quality brush.
thanks

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This will also allow coating the top and bottom of the doors. I've had good results on large slabs like doors using trim pads, little rectangular pads for trimming along the ceiling. I treat them as disposable.
wrote:

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Wipe it on using a clean cotton cloth. Some varnish can be wiped on out of the can, others need to be thinned with turpentine. Read the label, if it can be wiped on without thinning it will specifically say so. http://www.woodcentral.com/russ/finish7.shtml
--
Mac Cool

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I hung all the doors (pine) in my home. While staining and sealing them is a pain in the ass while their done it can be done.
In my case I used a oil based stain and to seal it I used Minwax Polycrilic (water based)
The oil stain smelled to high heaven and probably took a few years off my life. (used a rag to wipe it on (USE GLOVES!)
After a few days I used the polycrilic to seal it up. (good brush) I really do love that stuff! It dries in 2 hours, dont smell that bad at all and cleanup is with soap and water. In addition to that it wont turn yellow like polyurathane over the years. While I wouldnt recommend it on my oak floors it looks GREAT on my doors! It was definitly a pleasure to work with. (I did the polycrilic twice on each door. First coat, light sand, then second coat 2 hours later, look and admire)
Tom
Shawn wrote:

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