I recently stained my cherry color builder grade kitchen cabinets to an espresso color using General Finishes Java Gel Stain. I Put on 3 coats and all went well. I then applied 2 coats of the Minwax Wipe On Poly (Oil based version) in Clear Satin and now all the cabinets have streaks on them.

Before the poly it was rather smooth finish with gel stain. Now the streaks and lines are very visible. I even went ahead and applied up to 6 coats to see if it would even out, but still the streaks are there. I used an old T-shirt to apply the poly. I shook the can as instructed on the label and continued shaking throughout the process. I used 3M finishing pads between coats to scuff in between the poly coats, but that did not help either.

Also after applying this poly the sheen on the cabinets is a bit too much for me. I was hoping it was more of a matte look and not so shiny.

What can I do to fix this issue?

Should I sand lightly with like 600/1000 grit or 0000 steel wool and then apply 2 coats of the brush on poly version afterwards or stick with the wipe on version?

What can I do to decrease the sheen as well?

Here are a few pics:

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  • Did you apply this while cabinets were up? – DMoore May 1 '20 at 19:46
  • I would recommend migrating this to Woodworking - there are a lot of finishing questions and knowledge there. – FreeMan Dec 2 '20 at 13:51
  • Just curious, did u have to sand your cabinets before applying gel stain? It didn't stick much on mine which has some clear finish on it. – Quoc Vu Apr 1 at 23:06

In my opinion poly should always be applied with a high quality brush for a professional finish. I do like 600 grit between coats but to remove the streaks you will probably need to drop down to a 400 grit or maybe 320. When you apply the fresh coat do not over work it doing poly in place vertically you only want enough to cover and allow it to relax not heavy. Relaxing is where the surface ridges flatten but do not run. With Verticals surfaces I usually will apply more coats to get the “depth” sanding in between coats with up to 1200 anything over 600 I do wet, rinsing the paper constantly. You just need to buff the surface and knock any ridges when sanding between coats getting two aggressive will take the layer that you just put on off or most of it.

Since you will be using a quality brush you want to save it for the next project. I have brushes that are 6+ years old I clean most of the poly out (you never get it all out) then put in a glass canning jar and fill with thinner/ spirits above the brush/ bristle line and screw the top on tight. The next time you use the brush it will be just like new even a year later. This takes the cost of a 20$ brush down with each job and you have pro results with each job. Poly is one place I have learned never to skimp on brushes, I still prefer oil based because I know it so well and almost always have amazing results.

  • Initially the poly was applied when they were off the cabinet boxes. These last few rounds were done when they were hung back – JoeyDYI May 1 '20 at 21:15

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