There are a lot of misconceptions about the use of wipe on poly.

If you’re not sure how it works or what its benefits are, then I’m here to tell you that it’s one of my favorite products.

Here’s why: -It’s easy to apply -It dries quickly and is water-resistant- which means less time between coats! And, with a few more strokes after the first coat has dried, you can create a beautiful finish.

It really is so much fun and so easy to use. Read more below for tips on how best to use this product in your woodworking projects.

How To Use Wipe On Poly

Apply a fair amount of Wipe on Poly to a clean, soft, lint-free cloth or t-shirt and rub it into the wood. Let it dry for 2-3 hours. Then, lightly sand the entire surface with fine sandpaper (220 grit) to ensure an even finish and proper adhesion. Be sure to remove any loose dust.

What Is Wipe On Poly

It is a quality, clear, ultra-lightweight finish that combines the durability and warmth of natural, traditional polyurethane with the beauty and shine of modern, contemporary polyurethane. 

This is one of the latest and greatest products on the market for refinishing and molding wood, and it’s an excellent choice for virtually any interior finish. Why? Well, because it is solvent-based, meaning it doesn’t need oil to dry. It also protects and adds great beauty to wooden interior surfaces like doors, cabinets, and furniture.

You don’t have to use anything else to apply this fantastic finish. The quick-dry, no mess wipe on poly blend is what you need. When finished, you will have a glassy smooth finish that has been textured and bonded with light sanding. What you see is what you get!

It’s available in long and short fibers and can be sanded or brushed for light to dark finish, depending on your desires. 

A thick, fine-grit poly blend that can be sanded to a depth of six-hundredths of an inch, this is a fine, lightweight, moisture-wicking wood finish that’s easy to use, quick-drying, and long-lasting.

How Do You Mix Wipe On Poly?

Wipe on poly comes already thinned down with mineral spirits. Therefore, before mixing the two, you will first determine your desired result and ensure you mix it correctly. A good mix should be 20% mineral spirits and 80% polyurethane.

It would help if you attained a mix that a cloth can easily absorb. The most important thing to remember when mixing these products is mixing the proper amount, at the proper temperature, and with the right texture. 

However, it is important to not over mix the two, or the product will become thin and brittle. If you overmix them, the consistency can change, and you will have a poorly finished product. Here are more ways to make a wipe on poly.

How Long Does Wipe On Poly Take To Dry?

It will take two to four hours for it to dry and up to 24 hours to cure. However, it will depend upon the material you are using and how long your paint will be exposed to natural light. When the paint is still wet, it will typically take about two hours to completely dry.

In general, the longer the paint is exposed to sunlight before it dries, the shorter the drying time. Sunlight drying times are approximately one hour for light paint colors and about five to ten minutes for dark colors. 

Polyurethane is sealed chemically into the product because it is usually coated with an ultraviolet stabilizer. Ultraviolet stabilizers have been shown to help extend the drying time of the finished product. 

If the UV stabilizer is inadvertently removed or the sun is too bright for the seal to remain effective, the paint might become less durable.

How To Apply Wipe On Poly Without Brush Marks

The following steps detail the process of how to apply Wipe on Polyurethane with a rag. You can use either fine or medium sandpaper, depending on your needs. 

Read: Difference between brush-on poly and wipe-on poly.

To start this process, you will need:

  • A piece of cloth or old t-shirt
  • Disposable gloves
  • 220 grit sandpaper
  • Sanding block

Step 1: Sand the Work Area  

This step shouldn’t take long if you have a machine to sand. A good quality drum sander can achieve excellent results depending on the size of the piece. Make sure the sandpaper is sharp and sand both sides of the piece at the same time. 

I recommend you first start with a 120 grit sandpaper, then a 180 grit, then finish at 220. Before you start applying your poly, vacuum the surface thoroughly. This will ensure your coating dries well.

Step 2: Wipe on First Coat

Apply wipe on polyurethane by putting a small amount of finish on a lint-free cloth and rub it over the wood in a slow and steady motion. If air bubbles form on the surface, slowly tap the drum on the surface to remove them. Don’t stop or slow down. 

Air bubbles form due to various reasons, such as a loose connection between polyurethane and the substrate, moisture seepage, and air bubbles from the surrounding environment. Therefore, it will take 3-4 hours for this coat to dry.

Step 3: Sand and Reapply

After applying the first coat, it is time to sand the surface and apply the second coat. At this point, you should use 220 grit sandpaper or a 00 steel wool in the direction of the wood grain to help eliminate brush marks.

When you’re done sanding, apply the second coat and let it dry. When the second coat dries, you are ready to apply another few coats – either three coats, or four thin coats. Again, make sure the wipe on polyurethane is completely dry before applying the final coat.

Is Wipe On Poly Waterproof?

When we need to paint on wood, we often need to do it so that it’s protected from water damage, which can be detrimental to the wood. But how do we know if the paint on our wood surfaces is genuinely waterproof?

To begin with, I should mention that both water-resistant and waterproof paint have different levels of water resistance. The difference between them lies in the degree to which water can penetrate them. 

Even upon applying three thin coats of the wipe on polyurethane, your wooden surface won’t become waterproof. This is because wool will continually expand and contract even after the poly has completely dried and cured. As a result, this moisture gets its way into the wood.

At best, wipe on polyurethane paint is highly water-resistant, which is why it is sometimes used as an exterior or interior finish. Even so, like any other kind of coating, it is only as effective as the amount of ‘stickiness’ that it can provide for a given surface.

Can you Apply Poly Over Paint?

Yes, you can comfortably apply poly over paint, giving you a perfect and glossy finish. You can apply either oil or water-based polyurethane over any paint. However, always remember only to use polyurethanes that have been specifically formulated for use in woods. 

It would help if you also were careful of possible discoloration, particularly from oil-based polyurethanes.

Another possible reason you might want to use polyurethanes for your painted surface is that the surface has undergone extensive water damage. Typically, after a lot of rainfall or even when it’s starting to rain, a baked-on finish will form on a painted surface if there wasn’t enough time for the water to drain off of the surface after it dried.

By applying a thin layer of polyurethanes, this problem is avoided. The bottom line is that you’ll get a good, lasting result without having to wait weeks for the water to do its job.

Can you apply polyurethane sealer to painted surfaces in a week or less? Yes, that’s possible. Applying one coat of sealant to a painted surface could be done in as little as one day. 

Typically, after the sealant dries and the surface has completely cured, you can repaint it using water or oil-based polyurethane paint. After 72 hours, or sometimes a few days, sand the painted surface smooth depending on the humidity level in the area where you’re painting.

How Long to Wait Between Coats While Applying Wipe On Poly?

It’s recommended that you wait for at least two to three hours before applying the next coat of wipe on poly. Many times the manufacturers gives you a tag with the recommended waiting time in your manual. 

If your coat is wet, you may have to wait for a much longer time to allow the water in between coats to dry before you apply your next coat. This can be a problem if you apply multiple coats or apply wood with a grain or texture.

If you are a first-timer, you might want to apply your first coat right away to give your wood finish time to dry. But don’t be in a hurry to the last coat. Instead, take your time and have fun. You risk causing blotches to your surface if you apply the next coat before the previous one is thoroughly dry.

How to Prep a Wooden Surface Before Applying Wipe On Poly?

How to prepare a wooden surface before applying a wipe on polyurethane is quite simple. Firstly, you will need to ensure your surface is clean, preferably using a solid solvent-based cleaning product. 

A little care and attention to detail can go a long way in preventing problems during the application process. The first step is to clean the wood of any debris or dirt sitting on it before beginning the sanding process. 

Start by sanding the wood using 220-grit sandpaper to make the surface smooth until the grain of the wood is visible.

A simple vacuum and good brush will clean any surface. Still, if the surface has been heavily used or is otherwise in a somewhat dirty condition, a simple water and sanding solution will generally work wonders. Repeat the process for each successive coat.

The next step is to decide whether or not the surface will need sealers altogether. 

For solid surfaces such as solid oak, solid pine, or cedar, applying a wood putty or epoxy first will help protect them from scratches and gouges. These products will prevent the wood from absorbing the chemicals in the wipe on polyurethane but will most likely not be as effective at penetrating as a coat of stain. 

A combination of sanding and staining should do the trick. This will ensure the wipe on polyurethane lasts longer and provides a better-looking end product.

Can You Store Unused Poly?

You might be wondering if you can store your already opened wipe on poly. Yes, you can. But make sure you store it in an airtight container, even if it is already mixed with mineral spirit. 

Your main goal here is to ensure no air enters the container and the finish remains fresh.

You should use the remaining polyurethane within a month as there’s a high chance the polyurethane can dry up if you frequently open the can. 

Pros & Cons of Wipe On Polyurethane

Wipe on Polyurethane paint has been around for decades and is still popular today. If you are looking to save money while having the best quality product to use, a product like a Wipe on Polyurethane is the right choice. 

These products provide the user with durable yet flexible protection for flooring. They can be applied directly to concrete floors or used in conjunction with a sealer. 

Below we will take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of this product.


  • They dry fast
  • Suitable for vertical and slender surfaces
  • It has a high resistance to weather conditions.
  • easy to clean without any difficulty
  • Easy to apply
  • It is waterproof.


  • Premixed wipe on polyurethane is expensive.
  • It can be a messy process
  • Your finish may not desirably be suitable as a brushed finish
  • If not handled properly, the polyurethane-soaked rag may catch fire.
  • You will need to apply many coats to get a perfect finish.


1. Does Wipe on Polyurethane go bad?

Yes. Wipe on poly goes bad, but you can prevent this from happening by following a few simple steps to help you keep your polyurethane coating looking great.

2. Can you use Wipe on Polyurethane over stain?

Yes, you can use wipe on poly over stain. Wipe on poly is an excellent paint to protect your unfinished wood. But be sure to allow the stained wood to dry thoroughly before top coating with the wipe on poly.

3. Can I wipe on Polycrylic?

No, you shouldn’t. Polycrylic isn’t suitable for wiping. It would help if you always sanded after the first coat with 220 grit sandpaper. It also dries fast, allowing you to have many coats in a day.

4. Can You Put Wipe On Finish Over Regular Poly?

Yes. But it is good to use wipe on poly on surfaces that won’t be exposed to too much wear and tear.

Wrap up

If you are looking for a way to finish a bare wood and do it yourself without paying professional fees, wipe on poly is an excellent option. This type of paint doesn’t need any additives to cure and can be applied easily.

The good news is, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to master the techniques involved in the craft of refinishing wood. Instead, follow the above steps to attain the best finish.

Also, head on to our article on tinting water-based polyurethane and let us know what you think.

Happy woodworking!

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