As I am engaging in some home renovations of late, my
latest project called for filling in some open stairs (i.e. no risers) to
enclose the stairs and provide enclosed under-stair storage. Essentially,
the project called for 14 x 6" risers to be installed. As the existing
stair treads and stringers are made from all types of laminated wood
species, finding a good color match was tricky, but I ended up going with
a kauri veneered particle board from a good board manufacturer. Kauri has
a nice reddish-brown color to it that comes out nicely after a good finish
is applied. After cutting 14 risers to size from one full size sheet, I
was ready to put a finish on the risers before installing them using
pocket hole joinery (which would be invisible on the outside).
I hadn't decided on what type of finish I wanted, but
figured it would have to be durable, water-repellant and be able to take
some abuse (since I have young kids in the house). A polyurethane finish
would do the trick, but I didn't want a thick coat that would make the
final product look "plasticy" as polyurethane can sometimes do.
So off to the hardware store I go, and with a particular
brand of polyurethane in mind (one that I had used before). Trawling
through the aisle with shelves on finishes on it, I look for the regular
brand I am used to, and I take a while to find it. I grab the tin and
double check it, and have a quick glance to see what else is available in
the same price range (thinking I might be adventurous). My eyes come
across this tin of Minwax stuff... the label says "Wipe-On Poly". Sounds
interesting. I think it also caught my eye because I'm sure this is
similar to, or the same stuff I have seen Norm of the New Yankee workshop
use on many of his programs. Ok so with a bit of sparked interest, and
because the can was a few dollars cheaper than the one I had in my hand, I
swapped it and headed to the checkout with a tin of Minwax Wipe-On Poly.
After getting home, I went straight to work putting the
first coat on the risers. They veneer was pre-sanded so no extra work
needed before applying the first coat! Checking the instructions first (of
course), I shake the bottle vigorously, take 3 minutes to get the cap off
(grrr! - I think it had been on the shelf too long!) and grab a clean,
lint-free cloth to begin application. Yep, its bye-bye to the foam or
bristle brush. This is a wipe-on poly. It's thinner than other poly
finishes I have used, and hopefully no brush strokes in the final product!
It is an oil-based product.
Applying the finish is really easy. Anyone can do it.
Easier than painting, and much less technical than spray coating. It's
pretty hard to get wrong in fact. Just add a little finish to your cloth
and wipe it on in smooth strokes, ensuring you have an even coat. One each
riser had its coat I set it aside to dry. Because of the thinner finish,
dry times are much quicker. In reasonable weather conditions, i.e. not too
cold, you can apply a second coat in 2-3 hours! So 2 hours later (it was
pretty warm outside) I had a second coat on (after some light sanding with
steel wool in between coats). Now, this particular polyurethane finish
gives a thin protective coat. I opted for 3 coats just to make sure I had
a reasonable protective layer on the boards. After three coats, the warm
rich colors of the Kauri were displayed, but the finish didn't look like
plastic or make the wood appear to be "fake". The surface had a semi-gloss
finish, but with that hand-rubbed finished look that is difficult to
achieve with thicker, brush applied poly finishes. The product is
available in both satin or gloss finishes. I chose gloss, but the Kauri
doesn't have the smoothest of surfaces (very visible and defined grain) so
achieving a full surface overlay coat was difficult with this particular
Needless to say, I was quite impressed with the end result.
It was my first use of this particular finish, and the results speak for
themselves, as evidenced by the positive comments already received from
those who have seen the finished product.
Bear in mind though that this particular thin layer
protective poly is not suitable for all applications. The tin states it is
best used for Furniture, railings and trim, so you might want something a
little "thicker" for applications such as woodwork in bathrooms or for
something exposed to the elements. But for my project, the Minwax Wipe-On
Poly worked quite well. I'll be sure to try it on some "real" furniture
projects soon too. I'd be interested to try some other Minwax brand
products too now. If I do, I'll be sure to let you know how they go (good
One quart tin (946ml) will cover about 125 square feet
according to the printed specs. Cleanup is with mineral spirits or paint
thinner. Grab a pair of latex gloves too when applying it to avoid getting
it on your hands.
Order Online through these companies...
Click graphic to go to
their direct product page for this item
In the USA
I found it at Bunnings...