How to Change Wood Color With Polyshades and Polyurethane


Polyurethane is the final touch on any wood finishing or refinishing project. It not only protects the wood and adds to its durability, but it can also be used to enhance or change the color of wood. Polyurethane alone will change wood's color slightly. Tinted polyurethane, of which Polyshades is one brand, includes a stain that will change the wood's color and eliminate the additional step of staining.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood stripping tools
  • Sandpaper
  • Sanding tools
  • Polyurethane or Polyshades
  • High-quality paint brush
  • Rags
  • Remove all paint, stain and polyurethane from the piece. There are a variety of methods for stripping wood, including applying heat, sanding and using chemical and nontoxic strippers. Some experimentation may be required in order to find the right method for your project.

  • Sand the wood to a smooth finish. Start with a lower grit sandpaper to remove any remaining paint, stain or varnish, and gradually move to higher grit sandpaper to smooth the wood and prepare it for the application of a new finish. Clean all dust and dirt off the work piece after sanding.

  • Choose your finish. Polyurethane without a tint typically darkens wood slightly. Tinted polyurethane is available in finishes from light-colored pine to mahogany. Keep in mind that you can make wood darker, but not lighter by applying tinted polyurethane.

  • Brush your chosen shade on with a brush that is recommended for use with stains or polyurethane. Following the direction of the grain, brush on a thin, even coat while maintaining a wet edge. Clean up any excess with a rag. Allow the finish to dry per the instructions on the can. Rub with 000 grade steel wool and remove all dust before applying a second coat.

Tips & Warnings

  • After selecting your finish, test it on a scrap piece of material or in an area that is not visible.
  • Add additional coats to further darken the color.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area and follow all health and safety warnings for wood strippers and polyurethane.

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  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/ Images
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