Author Topic: Applying Varithane over an old finish.  (Read 2058 times)

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Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 792
Applying Varithane over an old finish.
« on: August 19, 2018, 02:08 PM »
I have a old set of Ethan Allen "Old Tavern" furniture.  It is a bit over 50 years old.  It is still solid, but needs to be refinished.  It's made of stained, distressed pine.  Since the look is distressed to begin with, I'm not trying to "fix" all of the nicks, bumps, and scratches that have happened over 50 years, as long as I can stain them to match, and I have found a matching oil-based stain that looks great.

I'm not sure what the original finish is, except that the wood itself was not stained.  All of the original dark color is in the finish.

I decided to test out my approach on the shelves.  Here are the steps I took:
*  Roughed up the shelves with 320 grit sandpaper.
*  Wipe them down with a dark stain to cover places where the finish was worn or damaged.
*  Applied one coat of oil-based, satin Varithane poly.

I finished that process last night, and this morning the results are spotty.  Most of the Varithane hardened to the expected satin finish, but in several places it has not hardened completely.  It is still sticky.  Furthermore, in those places, the finish is noticeably shiny compared to the places where it has dried completely.

Over the years, I'm sure that people have applied furniture polish and maybe a wipe-on varnish with stain in the varnish to try to keep the furniture looking good.  However, all of the shelves pretty much looked the same to me when I started last week.

Any idea what might be going on, and how I can fix it (short of taking everything down to the bare wood)?  Refinishing a few shelves is one thing, but I need to have a process that works before I start on the cases.  If the refinish effort isn't going to work, better to just ditch the pieces now.


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Online tjbnwi

  • Posts: 5730
  • Cedar Tucky Indiana
Re: Applying Varithane over an old finish.
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2018, 03:53 PM »
Should have cleaned with Kurd Cutter a couple of times before sanding.

You have a contaminant issue now.

Tom

Offline Tim Raleigh

  • Posts: 3529
    • Oakville Cabinetry
Re: Applying Varithane over an old finish.
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2018, 04:29 PM »

Any idea what might be going on, and how I can fix it (short of taking everything down to the bare wood)?  Refinishing a few shelves is one thing, but I need to have a process that works before I start on the cases.  If the refinish effort isn't going to work, better to just ditch the pieces now.

Any idea what might be going on, and how I can fix it (short of taking everything down to the bare wood)? 

Hard to say what or where the problem is but it could indicate "old finish" that is not drying completely vs a problem with your application.
I do agree with Tom that using a chemical cleaner such as Krud cutter or TSP is definitely something you should begin with followed by a rinse and a light sanding,add to your process.
Based on your processes, I am assuming the stain was dry, i.e. there was no glossy patches and it was dry (not tacky) to the touch. If this is the case we can safely assume the clear coat is the issue. If you bought the Varathane at a big box store, go to a specialty paint store and pick up some polyurethane and retest. If the stain wasn't dry, or there was wet or sticky patches after 24 hrs, you will need to thoroughly clean with Krud cutter etc.
There may be some conflict with the stain and the Varathane polyurethane that you applied. Check to make sure they are compatible (both solvent based etc.) as some stain has a small percentage of polyurethane to seal the stain for the top coat.

Hopefully that helps.
Tim