How do I stop polyurethane from yellowing white painted furniture?

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Made a side table, painted white and used clear coat of polyurethane to protect it...it turned a yellowish color I don't like. Got a gallon of this stuff for other projects I too want to paint white, but afraid will turn yellow too.

q how do i stop polyurethane from yellowing white painted furniture
  7 answers
  • Melodi Whitaker Melodi Whitaker on Jul 13, 2018
    Polyurethane is oil based and will always add an amber color or yellowing over white/light paints. There is a water based poly called Polycrylic that is not supposed to yellow, but msny people have problems with it yellowing as well. I use the Minwax paste wax over my painted furniture. It is white and dries clear. You can buff it a lot and make it shiny, or just rub it on, wipe it off and have a soft sheen.

  • Ebbjdl Ebbjdl on Jul 13, 2018
    You need to strip it and paint with a weather paint, that will hold up. It. You need a high gloss paint.

  • Pilar Pilar on Jul 13, 2018

    Thank you for the fast responses.

    Melody, I knew about the polycrilic as I use it for fine furniture that goes inside ( it holds up great and I love it!😊). Although, this was a project for a side table to go outside and didn't know or was sure that the polycrilic will hold up to the weather well ( like in the winter time), do you think it will? I was hoping maybe there was a chemical or home remedy to avoid it to go yellow on white furniture? I have heard about the wax, but never used. Will it work for outside furniture?

    Abbjdl, what do you recommend as for outside and to hold up to the weather up north of these USA.

  • Landsharkinnc Landsharkinnc on Jul 13, 2018
    there are 'non-yellowing' types ... but to fix this, you will have to repaint the items ... and I'd use a high gloss enamel for outdoor use...

  • Twyla J Boyer Twyla J Boyer on Aug 09, 2018

    Polyurethane yellows. Car clear coat or many art finishes do not. They are more costly, but will keep your whites white. (And car clear coats will hold up well to weather.) If ordering or buying a clear coat, make sure you buy the right thinner to use with it and be prepared for stinky fumes. It will be worth it, though, if you get a good one.

    • See 1 previous
    • Twyla J Boyer Twyla J Boyer on Sep 05, 2018

      Clear coat comes in pints and quarts and such, too. It is NOT cheap. You might be able to find a can at an auto parts place, but I tend to order KBS Ultra Diamond Clear Coat. It is expensive - about $55 a quart - and shipping adds about $10, too. You definitely need the thinner with it because otherwise you will use it once and never get the lid off the can again. It is self leveling, so no brush marks, but it does drip if you put it on thick, so watch for drips the first hour or so of drying time.


      To store it, I have had the most success emptying a mineral spirits can, rinsing that out with the KBS thinner (just a little), and transferring the KBS clear coat to the mineral spirits can. I added about 1/4 a can of thinner to the quart of finish when I first got it. Each time I use it, I pour what I think I will need into a wax coated paper cup (it eats through styrofoam), wipe down the threads inside the lid and on the can itself, add a tablespoon or so of thinner, and cap it right away. Then I use the thinner on the project I am working on. It stinks to high heaven and you absolutely need to wear nitrile gloves and work in a well ventilated area. Assume from the start that you will throw away any brushes and such you use with the product and use natural bristles - I buy chip brushes and just pick off the bristles that come off on my project as I go.


      The finish looks like glass and is pretty tough once it is completely cured. It will NOT come out of anything once dry, so if you have spills or drips, clean them up right away with the thinner. The biggest disadvantages to the product are the expense, the stench, that it tends to harden too quickly to be able to use all of it, and that if you get a serious nick in the finish it can peel off (but I use it on eggs, so I am not sure how it would do on other things - it is designed to not come off metal and it surely doesn't!).

  • Diane mahan Diane mahan on Aug 10, 2018

    happened to me too! I sanded. Repainted, 2 coats. 2 coats poly -yup the SAME poly! Then, without sanding, ONE coat of paint. One coat of poly ! That was almost 1mo ago - so far so good, esp. considering the yellowing had occurred almost immediately!

  • Use the remaining polyurethane over dark colors. It won't make a difference. White paint needs special care to keep it white. You need to use water-based polycrylic to keep it from yellowing.