Asked on Mar 06, 2012

How to get a smooth finish with brush-on polycrylic?

by J S
I got my black dresser painted and I'm satisfied, finally. I tried the spray-on polycrylic by Minwax, shook it for >1 m, and got a horrible, splattered finish. So I tried the brush-on version in gloss. I used a Wooster angled brush and brushed a thin coat from one end to the other without stopping. I see the instructions say not to over brush, and while I definitely made an effort to keep brushing at a minimum, I did some extra brushing where it didn't look even, and perhaps that was where I went wrong. The finish is ok - it's a little streaky in some places (I've done 3 coats). I get the impression that getting it really smooth takes practice, unless I did something obviously wrong (like over brush). Any feedback?
  16 answers
  • Is that a water based product? If so, I can give you some tips.
  • J S J S on Mar 06, 2012
    Yes. I'd love some tips.
  • I actually prefer Stays Clear by Ben Moore. Here are the tips: If the product is thick, thin it about 10% with water and stir. Never shake a top coat product because it produces bubbles. Apply it with a tight foam roller SLOWLY. Allow it to dry and sand with very fine sand paper. A high gloss finish requires multiple coats with light sanding in between. For areas that require a brush, make sure you are using a good quality brush (Purdy is great). Allow the brush to glide along the surface. . . don't press at all. If you miss a spot don't worry. Just catch it on your next coat. That is better than over brushing it. Even with the brush, you will want to sand lightly in between and reapply. Clouding will appear if the product is too thick or overworked. That is why I like to thin the top coat and do more coats. Hope this helps.
  • J S J S on Mar 06, 2012
    Thanks Kass, why do you prefer the BM product? I finished today - it was as I thought and what you said, no pressure, just glide from one end to the other.
  • I have not used the minwax top coats but have used Stays Clear for years. I like the way it levels and keeps brush strokes to a minimum.
  • Abbey Abbey on Sep 14, 2014
    i used minwax water based over modge podge i have coated and sanded and buffed so many times and it is still not smooth, i have deep grooves all over the table top still i don't know what to do. can i use a different top coat over the polycleric?
  • Wow - I had forgotten I submitted this over 2 years ago. I even forgot I had this profile at one point. Abbey, I've never used Mod Podge, but after 2 years, I've learned a lot since submitting this question. One is that Minwax's water-based poly is crap. I won't argue, still, that it may be my technique, but I've never really had great results with this product. I bit the bullet sometime after submitting this and spent the money on General Finishes polycrylic, and Minwax just doesn't compare. This stuff goes on flawlessly and is far and away more durable than Minwax. I've also figured out how to use the spray on Minwax poly (water based) and have better results with it. I know I didn't really answer your question, but I think the product itself may have something to do with the grooves in your table.
  • Barbara Christensen Barbara Christensen on Oct 07, 2014
    Gosh, I wish I had discovered the wisdom from all of you a week ago! Unfortunately I used the Minwax on a very hot day and it dried instantly...with BUBBLES all over the precious dining chairs I had worked on carefully for days. Will explore the other products mentioned above and use the tips from Kass. So grateful for the Hometalk community!
  • Marilee Marilee on Oct 19, 2014
    I just used Minwax polycrylic on my faux painted bathroom countertop. It has very poor (non-existent) leveling properties and dried with streaks and bubbles. My base was an off white and the Minwax turned it yellow. I'm going to sand the top and put on a coat of something else. This, then, will be my last project
    • Tricia Tricia on Oct 14, 2019

      tell me what you used instead..I am dealing with the same thing on my countertop.

  • Christine Christine on Mar 22, 2016
    I've used brush on polycrylic for years and have never really been thrilled with the finished look always believing I've done something wrong. Recently, I used a sponge applicator (never before) and was pleasantly surprised with the smooth finish!
    • Randy Randy on Jun 30, 2017

      what kind of sponge did you use? I have spent $100 on brushes trying to find the right combination - to no avail :-(

  • Marcy Countryman Morell Marcy Countryman Morell on Jun 04, 2016
    i just finished using minwax poly on a dresser, it's currently drying then i read these reviews, ugh. Hope it turns out.
  • Ddesigns Ddesigns on Jun 09, 2016
    I use min wax wipe on poly {water based**} but I apply it with an old white lent free T-shirt that I cut into squares. I dip a little Polly on the shirt and wipe it on in small over lapping sections. Wipe from end to end without stoping and work in small sections. Then, after it has completely dried, I buff with min wax finishing paste and have beautiful streak-free results every time. The key to getting an even finish is doing a light sanding with a very fine grit sanding sponge after each coat of poly. Clean dust and apply additional coats.
    • See 1 previous
    • Micki Klemencic Micki Klemencic on Nov 05, 2017

      Where did you get the Terry sponge? And do you just dip it and wipe it on everywhere

  • Gerry Gerry on Oct 20, 2017

    im an artist, oils on canvas. want to do a glistening or glossy top coat that will never crack or change color. i have used minwax polyacrylic so far with pretty good results. any advice? I'm going to look at the ben moore stays clear. is it much diff than the minwax polyacrylic? THANKS!

  • Heather Anderson Heather Anderson on Nov 01, 2017

    so...I just used minwax poly on my black painted countertops. It looks HORRIBlE! Crazy streaks. Just Awful. do have advice on how to rwmove the poly without taking the paint off? I need to use a different product..

  • Heather Anderson Heather Anderson on Nov 01, 2017

    so...I just used minwax poly on my black painted countertops. It looks HORRIBlE! Crazy streaks. Just Awful. do have advice on how to rwmove the poly without taking the paint off? I need to use a different product..

  • Tricia Tricia on Oct 14, 2019

    I redid my veneer kitchen counter and it looks great until I used minwax polyacryic. now it has bumps and streaks. HELP..what can I do? can I sand it and then what can I apply to avoid streaks and bumps? HELP..