I applied Minwax Wood Finish penetrating stain to white pine cabinet. Wiped stain thoroughly, waited 60 hours before attempting to apply Minwax water based, oil-modified polyurethane, using synthetic bristle brush. All of this is exactly as per instructions on products.

The only thing I did that wasn't on the Minwax instructions was to soak my brush in paint thinner to release trapped air, then wipe on paper until dry before dipping in the polyurethane. This advice was given by several different experts online.

As I drew my brush across the piece, the poly immediately began beading up. I took another stroke through, now beading up through the entire length of the stroke.

I Immediately wiped the poly off and then wiped the area again using solvent. The piece may have lost a tiny bit of colour on that strip, but it looks ok.

What should I do now?

1 Answer 1


water based, oil-modified polyurethane
paint thinner

There's your problem right there. Paint thinner and waterbased finishes don't go together.

This advice was given by several different experts online.

That's in relation to standard varnishes (oil-based).

Never loading finish — this includes oil, varnish, paint or shellac — into a dry brush is sound practice, but you use the appropriate solvent in each case. With waterbased finishes that's water*.

*Usually plain water but some prefer water mixed with a little of an additive, e.g. flow aid or retarder.

  • Thanks for your response. That's what I would have thought, but the advice I read was specific to water-based, oil-modified products... go figure.
    – user5601
    Commented Sep 29, 2018 at 17:43
  • Anyhow, in the meantime, I decided that the most likely culprit had to be residual stain on the surface, despite my previous wiping and what seemed to be a completely dry finish. Decided to wash down the surface with more of the same paint thinner (Recordsol), let that dry and tried again with the poly. Tried it first on a test stick,then on the underside of one of the panels from my cabinet. Still waiting for the 1st coat to dry, but didn't bead as it went on, so I'm hopeful.
    – user5601
    Commented Sep 29, 2018 at 17:52
  • Update: Just went out to shop to check...its about 2 hours since I applied first coat... surface is dry now and looks good. Will leave it until tomorrow to make sure before light sanding and second coat application.
    – user5601
    Commented Sep 29, 2018 at 17:56
  • "the advice I read was specific to water-based, oil-modified products" That's odd. Can you list a couple of the sources please?
    – Graphus
    Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 11:52
  • When I originally searched this subject, it didn't occur to me to save my pages. I just went back through my browsing history, but in the available time, I'm unable to find the pages I'm referring to...grrr! My memory says one of them was actually the Minwax site, and I had to mine in down several layers of menus before I got to the one in question, but I just can't find it again.
    – user5601
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 14:58

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