Have you ever experienced yellowing, stain bleed/blotches, crackling, or even yellow streaking in your sealant when painting your items white/off white/light colors? Even your dark colors can fall culprit to these issues if not treated accordingly (although more rare).
I’m here to help you to troubleshoot why this is happening and how to fix it stat, and you’ll be painting furniture like this in NO TIME!
YELLOWING/STREAKING/STAIN BLEED AFTER YOU’VE PUT ON YOUR CLEAR COAT
A lot of people come to me and say they’ve used a furniture style chalk/mineral type paint, sealed it, and noticing yellowing now. A lot of times it seems hunky dory until you go to poly your items and then somehow it activates all this junk. My question back to the people asking is “did you prime your item before painting?” Usually they reply no, so I let them know about BIN shellac primer. This primer blocks bleed and yellowing from occurring. It locks all the bad things that can happen to you before painting.
YELLOWING/STREAKING EVEN AFTER APPLYING 2 COATS OF BIN SHELLAC PRIMER
This happens every now and then, but not very often. This typically happens with the suuuuperrr old and pigmented items, such as antique sideboards. We call these “extreme bleeders” and when the BIN shellac primer doesn’t cut it, you’ll now have to switch to an oil based primer. My favorite is Zinsser Odorless Oil Based Primer, but Zinsser also has another one called BIN 2. I like the Odorless one because it’s, well, ODORLESS! Just remember that using oil based primers are thicker and can lead to brush strokes. If you want more info on how to avoid brush strokes when painting, I highly suggest my other blog post on this topic which you can find here.
This is also stain bleed, just taking on a different form. You can see that the finish underneath is so strong and greasy, it simply wants to pull away from each other. It sucks when this happens, lol. If this has occurred after you’ve applied 2 coats of BIN shellac primer, switch to oil based just like above. Oil based will cover these cracks up and I promise you’ll be on out of this nightmare soon. One coat of oil based primer usually does the trick, but apply more as necessary.
I’VE DONE EVERYTHING RIGHT, BUT IT’S STILL YELLOWING AFTER SEALING IT
So now we have to troubleshoot the kind of polyurethane sealant you’re using. Make sure you’re not using an oil based poly because that’ll automatically be golden in color. There are some on the market that seem like they’d be ok but when you look at the bottom of the can it says “warm amber hue” like the one shown below. DO NOT USE THESE BELOW TO SEAL PAINTED FURNITURE:
My favorite poly to use is Varathane Diamond Wood Finish crystal clear interior non-yellowing polyurethane. THE NEXT PHOTO IS THE GOOD ONE!
I’ve been using it for many years and have tried many others on the markets that do seem to yellow, this one does not. Of course with any white that you’re poly’ing, poly is not 100% crystal clear and will add the slightest deeper tint to your white. Honestly, there’s just no way around this and this one I find to be the clearest on the market. The polyurethane in the US is Varathane Ultimate which can be shown below.
SOMETHING I LEARNED ABOUT POLY THAT I WON’T DO AGAIN!
So I figured, I love the Varathane Diamond wood finish so much! Let me try the poly in the floor style. I had worked so hard on painting my floors white in the same method as I paint my furniture, and I did notice the can had a lot more color to it vs the other poly I use, but thought “oh well, I’ll put it on so thin”, but it did give a slight hint of warmness that wasn’t wanted. And it has gotten a bit warmer since I painted them in the spring of 2020. Nothing tooooo dramatic, just noticeable to someone like me. So I suggest TO NOT USE THIS ON YOUR PAINTED FURNITURE, UNLESS IT’S COLORED/DARK:
POLY DRIBBLES/DRIPS THAT HAVE POOLED AND YELLOWED
This is normal with any type of poly you use, even the good one. Just make sure to prevent that from happening in the first place by applying your poly very thinly and keep inspecting it for the first 5-10 minutes and lightly wipe any dribbling poly. You’ll have to sand these yellowed dribbles, repaint, and repoly gently to repair this.
After all of these steps, you should be good to go and shouldn’t EVER face these issues again. It’s probably the peskiest situations that happen to painters and it sucks when it does. But now when you face these challenges, you’ll know how to combat them. Let’s recap:
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- Always prime your furniture with 2 coats of BIN shellac primer. Just know you do have to rough up your surface first for the primer to stick.
- If you still have bleeding, yellowing, streakiness, or crackling after that – switch to oil based primer and that should do the trick
- Make sure to use the right sealant that won’t yellow
Thanks for reading! I hope this helps. If you want to see the video version of this blog post, check out my YouTube video: