It's been years since I've done this. I'm using polyurethane gloss
varnish on some woodwork. Some is Flecto and some is McCloskey (not
mixed together). The instructions on both cans are confusing; Flecto
is self contradictory. In one section it says it dries so fast that
you can apply 3 coats in the same day. In another section it says do
not recoat until it's completely dry, then use 220 sandpaper or steel
wool. My first coat is still tacky in places after more than 48
hours. Questions: Is this length of time normal? What is the ideal
time to wait between coats? Won't sanding dull the gloss? TIA, Paul
I have never used the brands you list, but in general...
If you want to sand between coats, you will probably have to wait a couple
days for it to get hard enough to sand. However I only sand when there are
problems I need to smooth out. If you are going to put a second coat on
without sanding, you must do it before the first coat has gotten hard or it
will not adhear well.
Perhaps that explains the contridictory instructions.
Yes, sanding will dull the gloss, but the second coat will pick it right
I have never put on more than 2 coats, except with wipe-on, which is really
thin. IMHO they are just trying to sell more varnish.
Most of the time my varnish is dry within 8 hours. Occasionally something
will take days; I have no idea why that is. Maybe humidity?
There's no contradiction there. Three coats applied twelve hours apart is
still within 24 hours.
No, that's not normal. Sounds like you applied too heavy a coat. It should be
dry within six to eight hours, under most conditions.
You said it's been "years" since you last did this -- are you using the same
can of varnish you used the last time, years ago? If so, that's your trouble;
throw it out and get new varnish.
Until it's dry. But not cured hard.
Sanding *between* coats won't dull the gloss of the subsequent coat. Just
don't sand after your *final* coat.
I've used Flecto brand since 1966. Sometimes it has dried very
quickly and at other times very slowly. Don't know why but may be
related to the weather (humidity). I've coated cove molding that were
dry to the touch in 1 hour. I coted a chest of drawers that took at
least a week before I could sand, otherwise it just balled up.
Finally, I got smart and started adding Giellespie's Japan Dryer to
polyurethane and oil. A small can will last forever since it takes
only a capful in a quart of finish. 1st coat is always ready to sand
in a day, second coat may take a couple of days before sanding.
The purpose of sanding between coats is to get a flat, even finish;
first coat partially fills large pores of fills small pore, second
coat can completely fill larger pores, subsequent coats just build the
depth of the finish. Don't ever use 220 sandpaper on a finish and
never dry sand. Use 400 wet or dry sandpaper and water as the sanding
medium, and sand lightly using a block on flat surfaces. The first
sanding takes the finish off down to the wood leaving the finish in
the pores. It will wet the wood, so let it dry before putting on
another coat. Don't actually put water on a surface; put the sand
paper in a bucket to wet and then take out and start sanding. When the
sand paper begins to drag, swish the sand paper in the bucket and
continue. When finished sanding, wipe with a damp rag, rinsing often,
twice, and wipe dry with a cloth.
Now that your finish is on, you will just have to wait until it dries
enough to sand, hopefully it won't be a week.
Japan dryer and 400 grit wet sanding are the keys
Thanks, George. The weather may indeed be a cause. Here in San
Francisco for the last month the humidity has been >80% and the
temperature <65 tops. I will look for the Japan dryer and definitely
will try your other tips.
Generally, poly dries sufficiently for recoating within four hours. Yours
being tacky after 48 hours indicates to me that either the varnish is bad or
you put it on with a spoon. As soon as it is dry enough to not be sticky is
"recoat time". If it dries MORE than four hours, sanding is needed to give
a tooth for the next coat. All that is needed is a light sanding...try to
do more and it won't sand well as it is not yet hard.
It won't be thoroughly dry for several weeks...if you can still smell it it
isn't dry. Someone mentioned wet sanding...that is the way to go if you
want a mirror-like finish. However, you MUST wait until the stuff is
completely dry, either naturally or by adding a drier. Dry is so necessary
because the finish in the grain is thicker than that elsewhere; if you sand
before it is dry you will get everything nice and smooth but the thicker
areas will continue drying and become lower.
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