I am refinishing my kitchen cabinets. I have sanded them, painted two coats of paint and then glazed them. I have put one coat of polyurethane on them, and am trying to put a second coat on. When I try to sand them, it is taking the finish off. I first tried sanding lightly with 220 grit and have now tried with 400 grit sandpaper and am having the same problem. I have tried in an unobvious place and am barely touching it with the sandpaper. What should I do?

  • 2
    Sounds like you may be sanding them too much. You only need to lightly sand it enough just to remove any dust that may have settled onto the surface. 320 grit should be used for this. 400 should do too. The coat of poly you placed may be too thin, it should not burn through too easily. The sanding should only need a few passes to get the surface smooth.
    – Jack
    Mar 11, 2014 at 3:15
  • If you used a latex based urethane, it is very thin coat and you can't sand it with course paper. Try 400 very, very lightly as Jack recommended. Mar 11, 2014 at 10:10
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    Just to confirm. You're sanding by hand, not using a palm/belt/other mechanical sanding device?
    – Tester101
    Mar 11, 2014 at 11:43

1 Answer 1


What type of paint/glaze? Oil or water based poly? Check with manufacturer of the poly to make sure it's compatible with previous top coats. The ones I've called in the past have always been very helpful.

How long did you let paint/glaze cure before poly? Even though paint dries within hours it takes a while to fully cure. If you apply the poly before it cures you'll have problems with the poly curing. Should wait at least 7 days before applying poly. More depending on climate.

  • 1
    I think the two finishes may not be compatible. That's the only thing it can be. I didn't realize there were different polyurethanes. The glaze did say after the fact, of reading it more carefully, to use water based poly. I am guessing the poly I used is not considering it said to clean up with mineral spirits. NOW WHAT DO I DO?!!
    – Donna
    Mar 15, 2014 at 15:49
  • The cabinets were left to dry an entire day or 2 before putting on poly.
    – Donna
    Mar 15, 2014 at 15:50
  • I barely touched it with the 400 sandpaper. Lightly sanded tiny place. Not hard at all. I'm guessing now that means that the finish will come off easy. Is there any way I can put more poly on and it be OK? When I sand it, it is taking the glaze off and going down to the paint underneath, resulting in messing up the finish I achieved with the glaze.
    – Donna
    Mar 15, 2014 at 15:53
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    I think the best thing to do is to try and remove all the poly you have applied. Sounds like it will be easy since it's coming right off with sanding. It may take the glaze with it so go over the cabinets again with the glaze. Give it 7 days to dry and then go over it again with a water based poly as recommended. Mar 15, 2014 at 16:35
  • Is there not any way I can just apply more coats of poly without sanding. If I take the poly off now it takes the glaze off and I will have to start all over because the glaze does not look the same if you try to put any more on if the original is not totally removed. Tried that before.
    – Donna
    Mar 16, 2014 at 16:08

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