How to Repair a Polyurethane Furniture Surface


Modern wood furniture that has a clear, hard, glassy finish is generally sealed in polyurethane. This is a great protective gloss, but it's not indestructible. If the polyurethane on that table or rocking chair has been scratched, dented, discolored or otherwise damaged, it not only looks bad but can allow moisture to reach the wood and cause further damage. Coating furniture with new polyurethane is a simple application process. Many find it is easier to re-gloss the whole piece rather than try to spot repair the furniture, which can be difficult to match with the rest of the surface.

Things You'll Need

  • 320-grit sandpaper
  • Newspaper
  • Masking tape
  • Polyurethane
  • Stirring stick
  • Foam brushes
  • Buff the surface of the furniture with 320-grit sandpaper, using fast, light strokes to take off the shine. Fold the paper as needed to get into crevices. Sand all the polyurethane areas, paying extra attention to getting the damaged area completely smooth and free of any visible cracks or discoloration. Brush away all the dust.

  • Lay newspapers all around the furniture. Put masking tape over any parts of the furniture that aren't going to be glossed.

  • Open your can of polyurethane and gently stir it until thoroughly mixed, pulling it up from the bottom. Don't shake the can, as it will create bubbles in the gloss.

  • Dip your sponge brush into the gloss. Apply it to the wood on the furniture in a very thin coat, starting at the highest point and working your way down. Brush it on with slow, careful strokes, going back over each area as needed to take out any drips or bubbles that form. Let it dry overnight.

  • Buff the surface again with your 320-grit sandpaper in the same manner as before, just enough to dull the shine from the surface so the next coat of polyurethane will adhere. Brush away the dust.

  • Add a second coat in the same manner as the first. Let it dry, buff it with sandpaper and then apply a third coat. Let it dry for 48 hours before resuming use of the furniture.

Tips & Warnings

  • For very intricate woodwork that will be difficult to get to with a brush, consider renting a fine-mist paint sprayer to apply the polyurethane. You will still have to sand between coats. Consult your home improvement store about the necessary spraying and safety equipment, including a respirator.
  • Ventilate the room when applying the polyurethane gloss.

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  • Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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