Applying a brush on polyurethane to a wooden surface

Polyurethane is a synthetic varnish-type home refinisher often used to refinish furniture. It is easy to apply, and it gives durability to finished furniture.

Choosing the brush is one of the most important things to do. Make sure you use the best brush for applying polyurethane to your wooden piece.

Polyurethane is used to add a smooth effect with a glass-like look to your wooden surface finish. If you want to apply to coat using polyurethane to your home exterior or interior, you might want to know how to apply it yourself.

When it comes to painting furniture, polyurethane paint is one of the most popular choices. It is oil and water-based, so it is easy to apply.

It can be used with sprayers, rollers, and brushes. Polyurethane can be applied directly onto the wood surface, or it can be applied over another finish.

What is the best brush for applying polyurethane?

For applying polyurethane to smooth surfaces, synthetic bristle brushes work well. Almost every surface can be cleaned with bristle brushes.

Because they contain less poly than natural bristles, synthetic bristles are preferable for confined or hard-to-reach areas.

They are the ideal brush for poly because they don’t absorb much water and will maintain their shape for a very long period.

What happens if you use the wrong bristle brush?

If you try to paint with a synthetic brush on chalk or clay-based paint, you will probably get a lot of brush marks and have to do a lot of extra work to get a smooth finish.

You want your paint to look nice and fresh. To do this, you will need to use the right brush to apply it.

Brush type is also an important factor. If you do not use the right brush, you will get a lot of brush marks.

When you use a brush with natural bristles to spread latex paint, the bristles soak up the water in the paint and get very floppy, making it hard to spread the paint evenly.

Also, you should make sure you have a good brush. You shouldn’t buy cheap brushes because they probably won’t last long.

Tips for Choosing the Right brush for polyurethane

When choosing the right type of brush, you may also want to think about the following:

Think about how much paint you are going to need.

You’ll need a paintbrush that can hold a lot of paint.

Choose a brush that lets you put just a little paint on.

Paint brushes are an essential tool in any painter’s kit. For those who use polyurethane for painting, you will need to know how to choose the right brush for your project.

Get a set of inexpensive paint brushes if you’re just starting off. This will help you practice your painting skills, and you will get to know the basics of painting.

If you are going to be working on a large area, you may want to get a larger brush.

You should also seek a brush that is easy to clean. This will prevent you from having to clean your brushes as often.

You should also consider the brush’s cost. Buying a brush that is too expensive will make it difficult to experiment and paint. You must buy a brush that fits your needs and budget.

Brush Material For Polyurethane

The materials of your paintbrush play an important role in how well it works with polyurethane.

If you plan to do interior painting in your house, you must choose the right paintbrush type.

There are different kinds of brushes used to apply polyurethane. Each has its purpose and is made to perform a certain task.

Each has its unique qualities. The most common types are natural, synthetic, and foam brushes. You will find these types of brushes in almost every home improvement store.

Here are three types of brush materials to consider:

Natural Brush

It can absorb more mixture and gives a smoother finish to oil-based products, such as polyurethane.

Animal hair, like hog, goat, and horse hair, is used to make natural brushes. They are very soft, and the paint sticks to them well.

You can use them to put on base coats and mix colors. They work best for making a smooth finish with small amounts of paint.

All of the hair in a natural brush comes from an animal. These brushes are softer than synthetic ones.

Use a brush with natural bristles for oil-based paints, top coats, varnishes, shellac, decorative chalk paint for an antique look, enamel, and polyurethane.

You can also stain furniture sufficiently with a round brush with natural bristles.


  • These bristles are split by nature and are made to pick up, hold quickly, and spread natural paints.
  • Natural bristle brushes are soft and flexible, making it easier to spread a thin, even layer of paint without leaving streaks.
  • When you use these brushes with natural paints like chalk, milk, or clay, you are less likely to get streaks than if you used synthetic brushes.


  • If you want to paint with precision, it can be hard to use a natural brush.
  • The first few times you brush with natural bristles, the bristles will also fall out.
  • Natural brushes are softer than artificial ones, but they shed more.
  • If you bought an excellent natural brush, the bristles shouldn’t fall out after the second or third time you use it.

Synthetic Based Brush

This brush material can retain its stiffness and stay in its form while giving even smooth coverage.

Most people use brushes with bristles made of synthetic materials. Synthetic materials like nylon or polyester are used to make the bristles, which is better for applying water-based polyurethane.

These brushes are also often used with paints made with latex. Natural bristles also tend to shed more than synthetic ones.

Because they are easier to clean than natural brushes, they are often used to paint walls.

They can be used to paint ceilings and work well for covering huge areas.


  • Nylon brushes last long, pick up paint well and have a smooth finish.
  • Polyester brushes stay in shape and are easy to handle, making them great for fine work.
  • Blends of nylon and polyester are the most popular choice because they have all the good qualities.
  • Synthetic bristles are made to last longer and hold up better than natural bristles.
  • The bristles are smooth and springy, which makes for an even finish. They work well for satin, eggshell, and gloss finishes made with water on wood and furniture.
  • The best thing about modern synthetic brushes is that they are cheaper than natural hair brushes.


  • When it’s hot or after a lot of use with latex paint, nylon brushes get soft.
  • When brushes get old, they can lose their ability to make a smooth, precise finish.
  • Polyester brushes don’t pick up as much paint, so you must reload them more often.
  • When the paint dries quickly, it sticks to polyester, making it harder to clean.

Foam-Based Brush:

Due to its material, a foam-based brush is super absorbent. Thus it can release paint well. This brush is great if you want to deliver full coverage quickly.

Foam brushes are made from foam. They are a mixture of plastic and air. They are great for applying latex paint since the foam absorbs the paint.

Foam or Sponges are useful for applying polyurethane to small areas or for spot cleaning. Sponges are not recommended for applying polyurethane to large surfaces.


  • Most foam brushes are cheaper than bristle brushes, but they don’t last as long, even if you take care of them.
  • They are good for quick, small painting and staining jobs. For example, you wouldn’t use one to paint the side of a house.
  • Using a foam brush to paint the straight edges of a small project, like a tabletop, is easy and doesn’t leave any brush strokes.
  • Foam brushes shouldn’t be used to apply clear, thick finishes like polyurethane because the foam may cause bubbles to form in the finish.
  • Foam brushes also carry many stains to cover quickly and thoroughly.


  • When you use the same brush to apply thick finishes during a project, the foam soaks up more and more of the liquid, making the brush head wet and sloppy.
  • The brush creates marks along the finish’s edge or applies too much paint. Some finishes with solvents could cause the foam to break down as you use the brush, and very old foam brushes may break down on their own.
  • If you clean and use a foam brush more than once, the foam will bend until it breaks and falls apart.
  • Foam brushes don’t give coverage because the stain soaks out of the brush at different speeds.

How do you use a foam brush to polyurethane?

When applying the polyurethane, you should start from the end of the brush and move across in one fluid motion. As a result, air bubbles will not form within the foam.

You should also avoid leaving any lap marks on the surface. As you move across the surface, you should move slightly up and down. This will ensure that you cover the entire surface evenly.

It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t put polyurethane on the surface until it’s totally dry.

Do foam brushes leave streaks on surfaces?

When staining, none of the bad things about foam brushes matter. when you use a foam brush, you don’t need to worry about air bubbles, so there won’t be any bubbles left behind after you wipe away the stain.

The stain is thin, so it doesn’t take much work to spread it with a brush. When the stain dries, the surface is smooth and even. It’s a simple and effective way to apply stains. Because of this, it stays on longer.

Does polyurethane work well with foam brushes?

Yes, a foam brush can be used to put on polyurethane. A foam brush is better than a natural or synthetic brush because it spreads the polyurethane evenly across the surface.

It’s great for painting trim and other small projects. But it’s not the best choice for larger projects. Use a foam brush to put polyurethane on smaller projects, like finishing furniture, rather than a large project like a floor or wall.

For larger projects, such as a deck, apply the polyurethane with a brush or roller.

What’s the best use for a foam brush?

Foam brushes are made to absorb and hold various paints, stains, and urethanes.

They are inexpensive and simple to get rid of, which is their best quality.

They can be used multiple times if they can be washed out. Sponge or foam brushes are often used in a variety of crafts.

Sponge or foam brushes are a versatile tool for most craft projects.

They are used in woodworking, painting, and other arts and crafts and are useful for cleaning surfaces like furniture and cabinets.

They can also apply stain, paint, or finish to the wood. You can also use them to seal or protect furniture, cabinets, and trim.

The Best Brush Size For Polyurethane

Depending on your project, the brush size is helpful when working with polyurethane. Here are the size options with explanations about the suitable projects for each size.

  • 1.5-inch to 2.5-inch size: This brush size is suitable for touch-ups and small projects.
  • 4-inch mini roller: It is good for small or flat-surfaced projects.
  • 6-inch roller: This larger roller is best for working with wooden surfaces.
  • 3/8 inch or small roller nap: Good for working on projects with no texture.
  • ½ inch or bigger roller nap: Good choice for working with rough or textured surfaces.

The Best Style of Paint Brush For Polyurethane

The style of a paintbrush can affect how well you apply polyurethane. Here are the lists of paint brush styles to consider for your project:

  • Angular Sash has slanted bristles. This is suitable for trimming and cutting in.
  • The trim style is a flat style suitable for flat and large surfaces.
  • Flat Sash Style can help you cover flat areas.
  • Wall Style is thick bristles to help speed up your work with large surfaces.

The Best End Type of Paint Brush For Polyurethane

In choosing the brush style, it is also important to know how the ends of your brush affect the application of polyurethane. Here are the lists of end types to consider for your polyurethane projects:

  • Angled Bristles: The brush has slanted patterns to make it easier to apply smooth lines.
  • Brush With Angled Foam: The tip of the foam is angled to help with a polyurethane application.
  • Square Trim Bristles: This brush has a square shape to help you work with large and flat areas.
  • Round Ended Roller: This roller has round covers at the ends to remove lines.

The best material for a paintbrush to cut in edges?

The paint you’re using will affect how you choose the best paint brush for your project. As a general rule, the following brush materials are best for cutting in:

Natural bristles: Provides a smooth finish to your edges when using oil-based paints.

Synthetic bristles: Keep their shape for good coverage when painting with latex.

Foam brush: It soaks up and lets go of all kinds of paint well so that you can get beautiful results quickly.

How To Paint Polyurethane By Yourself Without Leaving Marks

If you decide to paint polyurethane by yourself, it is crucial to learn how to get the best results and take your time on your projects. Here are useful tips about how to apply polyurethane properly without leaving marks.

  • Using quality tools can give you the best results. It is recommended to buy high-quality brushes, so they give you the best results without compromising your work.
  • Don’t forget to check the weather. Check the weather forecast if you work outside, so the rain or humidity doesn’t mess up your projects.
  • Apply sanding to the wood. Sanding is important to eliminate the old surface and make it smooth. This will help polyurethane to stick properly and gives a great look.
  • Clean working area. Dirt and debris are inevitable and can show up in your polyurethane. You need water to clean your projects and the surrounding area. You can also clean them with a vacuum.
  • Wipe the dust away. Use a clean cloth and add mineral spirits to clean any dust that might fall in the polyurethane.
  • Don’t use polyurethane excessively. Before applying, remove extra polyurethane from your roller or brush if it is too excessive. This ensures that your projects don’t end up with drips, blotches, and inconsistent coverage.

Will the second coat of paint cover brush marks?

The second coat of paint will never cover any flaws not covered in the first coat.

For example, if you have a spot that has been scraped away, it will still show. Also, you might get an uneven finish, so if you paint over another coat, the two coats will stick together and create a bumpy finish.

The best way to apply a second coat of paint is to paint a thin coat over the first, allow it to dry, then sand the surface with a fine-grit sandpaper. This will remove any brush marks or scuffs, and give you a smooth surface.

If you apply too much paint, you might have a hazy finish, so apply a thin coat and let it dry.

Can sanding remove brush marks?

If you see brushstrokes in a few spots after the paint has dried, It doesn’t mean you should throw away the entire painting. Brushstrokes are just brushed marks that appear in a few areas.

Some of the brush marks can be removed with 80-grit sandpaper that won’t clog.

Sand the brush markings away with the sandpaper on a sanding pole or block. Make sure to sand in the brush stroke direction, so you don’t remove too much of the paint. Sanding the brush marks away is not the same as sanding off the paint.

If the brushstroke is deep enough, you may need to use 120-grit sandpaper. For large areas, use a block and sanding pole.

Apply the 80-grit sandpaper to the block first. Then attach the block to the sanding pole, and use the sanding pole to apply the 120-grit sandpaper to the brushstroke area.

Without leaving brush marks, how should oil-based polyurethane be applied?

Instead of a brush, use a foam brush or a lambswool applicator. These brushes are less likely to leave marks than those with synthetic or natural bristles.

If you use a bristle brush, use one with natural hair instead of one made of plastic. Brushes with natural bristles work well with oil-based paints and leave fewer brush strokes than synthetic brushes.

The brush marks don’t go away when the polyurethane is too thick. Use paint thinner to thin your polyurethane and a paint stir stick to mix it.

When the product is thinned out, the finished surface is smoother.

Don’t quickly drag the applicator back and forth using polyurethane. This not only makes more bubbles in the applied product but also makes the product dry faster, so brush marks don’t have as much time to smooth out naturally.

The surface that had dried was sanded. Sand the first coat with 280 grit or finer sandpaper after letting it dry for a full day.

Apply polyurethane in several coats, sanding between each one as it dries. After the last coat, sand the surface with 600-grit sandpaper to make it sleek and smooth.

How do you brush polyurethane on wood?

If there are bubbles in the finish, lightly brush over it again to make them pop out. Even if you don’t want to scratch the wood, you’ll have to work with the grain.

Use a brush to move the polyurethane along the wood grain and spread it out evenly.

Following the wood’s grain makes it easy to brush on a finish.

Start by giving the surface, especially along the grain, a good cleaning.

The finish shouldn’t have any dust or dirt on it since that could damage it. Then, lightly sand the wood before putting on the first coat.

How To Finish Furniture With Polyurethane

  1. Prepare Your Finish With Proper Sanding. One important key to making a good finish is by smoothing the surface; sanding is required to achieve it. Use sandpaper with finer grits to sand your project. The higher grit sandpaper removes the deeper scratches left by lower grit sandpaper. Most projects need first sanding using a fine paper (150 grit) and then an extra-fine sanding (220 grit).
  1. Sift through The Surface. Look closely for any scratches the sandpaper might leave. After the wood is free from blemish, clean the dust. You can use a vacuum to clean. After that, wipe it down using a lint-free cloth moistened with mineral spirits.
  1. To ensure the surface is free of dust, use a tack cloth to wipe it down. You must have a clean finishing room. Clean your garage or shop thoroughly. Make sure sawdust is cleaned and your room has adequate ventilation. Open your windows.
  1. Use an exhaust fan and place it facing through a window to remove vapors. Open other windows to allow fresh air to enter. Do not place a fan near your workpiece as it only blows dust on it.
  1. Do not shake a can of polyurethane! It will add air bubbles into the mixture and bumps on your finished surfaces.
  1. Take your brush and dip it about one inch into the liquid. Then brush the wood gently with long and even strokes from end to end. Keep the edge wet by overlapping it until you coat the surface thoroughly. Use your brush to catch any drips, then smooth them to the surface.
  1. Apply coats of polyurethane.

7 Best Brushes for Polyurethane

This polyurethane brush was made for professional painters and sprayers. It comes with a non-stick nylon brush that can be used to soften and clean brushes.

It is available in many different lengths and widths.

A good brush will help you make a smooth layer of polyurethane. You won’t get what you want if the brush is too hard or soft.

The best polyurethane brush is round and has long, soft bristles that can penetrate your project’s corners and cracks.

Because the brush is flat, it is easy to spread polyurethane.

What kind of brush you use depends on what you’re painting on.

What Should You Look For When Buying a Brush?

There are many different sizes, shapes, and materials for brushes.

You should consider how much paint you will be using when buying a brush.

Brushes from animal hair will last longer than those from synthetic materials. If the brush is too stiff or loose, it will make it harder for you to control your paint application.

Wooster Brush Silver Tip Angle Sash


  • It can be put on thin coats of polyurethane that is water-based.
  • Easy to hold and made of good wood.
  • The best brush for painting with polyurethane
  • The bristles are held together by a rust-proof ferrule. A good polyurethane paint brush can last for years with the right care.
  • Great bristles on a great brush.
  • The stainless steel ferrule makes it last.
  • Wooden handle to make painting more comfortable


  • Few reports of hairs falling out

Purdy White Bristle Series Sprig Flat Trim Paint Brush


  • China bristles make it easy to put oil-based polyurethane on.
  • Comfortable grip
  • Quality materials were used for the handle, ferrule, and bristles.
  • It comes with a keeper so that it can be used longer.
  • Good quality brush for professionals
  • Strong brush bristles
  • High performance and a smooth finish


  • Even when done right, a few bristles fall out.
  • Bristles can be pulled out easily.
  • Quite expensive

Minwax Manway Polycrylic


  • The best brush for water-based polyurethane paint is the
  • Simple to clean
  • Lasting for a long time
  • More affordable than competitors in the high-end market


  • Not as flexible as some other brushes

Wooster Brush Foam King


  • Foam brush lasts a long time
  • It finishes without streaks.
  • Very affordable
  • Cleans up easily
  • Excellent foam brush
  • It was easy to use.
  • Cleans up easily
  • Durable


  • It works best for small areas
  • It has a bit more of a finish.
  • The foam pad could easily come off the plastic handle.
  • Cheap plastic handle

Pro Grade Paint Brush Set


  • It’s cheaper than similar products
  • More than one time can be spent on it.
  • It can be used for both polyurethane made from oil and water-based.


  • Has limited usage
  • The finish isn’t as smooth as on brushes of better quality.

Wooster Brush Polyester Paintbrush


  • High-quality brush
  • Ideal for do-it-yourself projects.
  • High-performance bristles
  • Reasonably priced


  • A little large for little hands.
  • It is hard and so unsuitable for outdoor painting.

Hiltex Brush Set


  • A quality set of brushes
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Wide range of widths for different applications
  • Reasonably priced


  • Not reusable