Wipe On Poly Problems (9 Problems+Solutions)

To make your furniture long-lasting and look extra smooth wipe-on poly is a great option. But of course, sometimes for some mistakes, the poly finish can come out wrong. 

It’s easy to use wipe-on poly. But there are some problems with it that everyone complains about. 

So, what are the wipe-on poly problems

Wipe-on poly can cause problems like trapping bubbles inside after the finish or uneven finish. Sometimes the finish doesn’t come out as smooth as you want. There can be discoloration or separating issues. Most of the wipe-on poly problems can be solved by sanding. There are other solutions too. 

Okay, don’t just start with sanding for all of your wipe-on poly problems now. There are other things you should know about polyurethane. Keep on reading, because I have accumulated all the problems and their solutions together. 

9 Common Wipe on Poly Problems

There are many ways to protect your outdoor furniture from extreme conditions. Indoor furniture needs that protection too. wipe-on polyurethane is a way that can give your furniture long-lasting protection. 

Wipe-on poly can show many problems. Most of them occur because of some mistakes we do during the application time. Let’s see some of the common problems. 

Problem 1: Bubbles In Wipe on Poly Finish

After applying wipe-on poly, you may notice tiny bubbles on the surface. It ruins all the aesthetics of your furniture. It can happen for different reasons. 

If your polyurethane can have been shaken before using it, this can happen. Because then some air traps inside the can. And those airs appear as bubbles on the surface of your furniture. 

Another reason can be not cleaning your furniture surface before applying the coat. There can be dust or other particles that can cause bubbles. 


Get rid of the air trapped inside the polyurethane can. For this, gently tap it some times on the floor. You can also stir the can with a spatula or brush.

Also, properly clean the surface you gonna apply polyurethane on. To do this, dip a cloth in some mineral oil and then wipe the surface.  And also make sure the cloth you gonna use to wipe, is also clean. 

Problem 2: Separating Issue

This is another annoying problem. Let’s say you have finished applying the wipe-on poly coating properly. After some days you will notice the coating is separating from the furniture surface. 

This can also happen for many reasons. The polyurethane you have used may be contaminated or expired. You may have failed to mix the finish properly. 

Or maybe you have forgotten to clean the surface between the two coatings. Another thing that may happen, the furniture surface was greasy and not prepared for the coating. 


Buy good quality polyurethane and always make sure to check the expired date before buying. Here is some good-quality wipe-on polyurethane you can check. 

Always make sure to do proper sanding before applying the coating. Sanding will make your furniture surface ready to absorb the polyurethane coating better. 

Of course, you know, you have to clean before starting to wipe on a coating. But do you know? You have to clean even after the first coating to apply the second one. And always remember to do it after the coating is completely dry.  

Once the coating gets separated after applying it, there is nothing you can do about it. So, remember to take action beforehand. 

Problem 3: Uneven Wipe-On Poly Finish

This problem also occurs for almost the same reason as separating the coating. Maybe the polyurethane is contaminated. Or the cleaning wasn’t proper. Same as separating problems, you can’t do anything about it after this happens. 


Buy good quality polyurethane. Clean the furniture surface properly before every coating. 

Problem 5: Scratches in Wipe-On Poly Finish

It’s normal to have some scratches on furniture surfaces over time. It can have with any coloring or coating. So, the wipe-on coating is not far from that. It’s not an issue that you can avoid. 

But the other problem is having scratches while applying the wipe-on poly coating.  It happens when you do the sading too harshly. It creates tiny cuts on the furniture surface. And after coating the surface looks rough and scratchy. 


Make sure not to do the sanding too harshly. And if you get scratches over time, you have to recoat the polyurethane after sanding again. 

Problem 6: Cloudy Wipe-On Poly Finish

Sometimes you will notice the wipe-on poly cloudy appearance after finishing coating.  It can happen when the polyurethane isn’t mixed properly before applying. It also can happen because of water or extreme humid condition. 

Using old wipe-in polyurethanes can cause this problem too. 


Extreme humidity can destroy any of your furniture. It also ruins your clothes and makes you feel suffocating. So use a dehumidifier to balance the humidity level of your home. It will protect your coated furniture from getting cloudy. 

Also, make sure your coated furniture doesn’t get exposed to water. Always use a coaster to keep your chilled beer or other drinks on the table. Don’t use old or expired polyurethane for coating. 

Also, make sure to give a good stir to the mixture of polyurethane before applying. 

Problem 7: Trapping Insects In Wipe-On Poly Finish

It looks extremely disgusting when an insect is trapped on the surface of your furniture. Especially if it’s a dining table or a coffee table. It happens when you are applying the coating and suddenly a bug lands on the furniture. 

Many people tend to ignore it. But later it looks really bad. 


Suppose the bug lands when the coating is still wet. In that case, it is simple to get rid of it. Just use a toothpick or any pin and carefully take it away. If you think the coating is not smooth there, apply a little coating. That’s it. 

If the coating is drying when the little bug decided to land, don’t use a pin. Wait until the wipe-in poly is completely dried. Once it dries, gently rub the bug away by sanding it. And apply a coating on that area. 

Make sure you never sand a wet coating. It will make the coating to be more patchy. 

Sometimes your wooded furniture gets attacked by many insects. Products like Bora-Care and other brands will help you get rid of it. 

Problem 8: Surface Roughness In Wipe-On Poly Finish

Again the surface can look rough after applying polyurethane coating because of the same mistakes. Maybe you forgot to clean properly before coating, or in between coating. 

The surface roughness happens if you don’t sand properly or the polyurethane isn’t of good quality. 


To avoid surface roughness you have to buy good products. Sanding properly before applying the coating is essential. Not too rough, not too light. Also, clean the surface before and in between each coating. 

Problem 9: Cracked Wipe-On Poly Finish

Yeah, that’s another problem with wipe-on poly that happens often. Sometimes you will see the surface is cracked after a few days of coating. 

This problem happens if the coating is too thick. Or the previous coating isn’t ribbed out properly before applying the new one. Old polyurethane can cause this problem too. 


Always rub off the older coating with proper sanding before starting a new one. Use new product. 

Make sure the wiping cloth isn’t too drenched with polyurethane while coating. Take a break of 2-3 hours before applying another coating. And don’t apply more than 3 coatings.


Also, try to give your wooded furniture good UV protection so the coating lasts longer. Because UV can ruin your furniture, especially if it’s outdoor. 

So, here are some common wipe-on Poly problems. And you can use the suggestions to avoid it.  Good products and a little carefulness go a long way. 


Can You Wet Sand Wipe On Poly?

You can wet sand the wipe-on poly after the first coating. It will help you achieve a smoother and glossier look. But make sure to do it after it dries out a few hours before. Also, at this point, you are sanding the coating, not the furniture surface. So do it very gently. 

What Do You Do After The Last Coat Of Wipe-On Poly?

After you have applied the last coat of poly, let it dry out fully. After that, you have to sand it with mineral spirit. You can use soapy water too. You can use either dry or wet sandpaper. But you have to be careful enough to do it very gently. 

Will A Fan Help Polyurethane Dry Faster?

The fan may help the poly to dry faster. But it depends on factors like humidity, polyurethane brand, temperature, etc too. Make sure you don’t keep a fan too close to the coated surface. Because then the air pressure will make the wet coating get displaced. And it will make the coating look uneven. 


I tried to cover all the most common wipe-on poly problems. I hope you could relate them to the problem you are facing. And don’t worry if you have messed up with the coating. You can always sand it and reapply another coating. 

Always make sure to use good brand polyurethane and prepare the surface before coating. Good Luck!

Kevin Smith

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *