I’m trying to refinish the above table but having problems with streaking polyurethane. Using Minwax Fast Drying. The process has been as follows; sand, stain and applied poly using a Purdy brush for oil and following the directions on can. The brush left terrible brush marks.

Waited the recommended time and lightly sanded until smooth with no visible marks and put another coat. Looked terrible. I’ve tried recommended foam brush, tried rub on method by diluting poly with mineral spirits and the last attempt was with 100% Lambswool applicator. As you can see in pic still looks bad.

Could it have something to do with the way I’m sanding. Used a dewalt sander starting with 80 grit sandpaper and ending with 220. Although on the last few coats I used 320 and 400 doing a hand sanding just don’t know where to go from here other than Starting the process over. We bought a sprayer today hoping that would help.

All suggestions welcomed If you enlarge photo may can see better. This was taken in garage and only half of table is getting full natural lightenter image description here

  • 1
    It looks to me like you may be over working the finish. Or possibly putting it on when it is hot. If the poly doesn't flow and become smooth when applied thinner is usually needed, but if you keep working it it will start to dry and not flow.
    – Ed Beal
    Aug 10, 2018 at 18:37
  • You may also want to try the Woodworking stack. My personal approach has been to switch from brushing to padding, using cotton wadded in a nylon sock as the pad. Holds a significant amount of finish, releases it evenly, has a smooth surface so leaves w smooth surface.
    – keshlam
    Oct 18, 2023 at 16:55
  • I have no relevant expertise here, but just to check something I haven't seen asked yet: is the poly you're using from a new container you just bought? If it's old that could be an issue. Oct 18, 2023 at 17:53

1 Answer 1


My hunch is that you're applying too light a coat and/or working with it too long. I've used Minwax poly many times, and it's almost miraculous how it flows to a smooth finish. It should look very glossy after you brush it on, and you shouldn't work it longer than necessary. Your final lap should be within a minute or two of application.

I tend to apply fairly heavy, then work it out to the point where it doesn't run. Get off it as soon as that's done to give the surface skin time to flatten itself out. Any brush work done once the poly starts to set will remain.

Note that I never sand beyond 150 or 220 grit, depending on what I have on hand. Polyurethane spans that texture just fine.

  • I thought also that I may be overworking and maybe not applying enough poly so I asked my husband to apply for me. I read that if you rub on you should mix 50 poly with 50 thinner. So maybe we really need a higher consistency of poly. I’ve started sanding again so we will give it one more try. Could I be getting it too smooth using 320 and 400 and would that make a difference.
    – Kathy
    Aug 10, 2018 at 20:19
  • I don't believe it can be too smooth, and I've never diluted polyurethane before.
    – isherwood
    Aug 10, 2018 at 21:10
  • Really confused because I’ve sanded the table really well and can still see streaks of shiny and dull wood the same look I get when the poly dries. When we first apply poly it looks beautiful but not so good when it dries. Really really strange😢😢😢
    – Kathy
    Aug 10, 2018 at 22:26

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