What Can You Do When Your Polyurethane Finish Is Too Shiny?

You’re probably used to hearing all about how polyurethane is a great sealer. Between its waterproofing qualities, and its scratch resistant durability, its a cost effective way to finish off a project.

This all-purpose clear coat is available in four types of finishes; matte, satin, semi-gloss, and high gloss. With each one giving off a different level of light-reflecting shine.

Matte polyurethane offers the lowest level of sheen (perfect for hiding dust and dirt on hardwood flooring).

While high gloss polyurethane offers the highest level of shine possible for poly.

But, what happens when your polyurethane finish appears more shiny than advertised?

If your polyurethane finish looks too shiny, it is because the polyurethane wasn’t stirred well enough (inside the can) before application. Stirring polyurethane makes sure that the flattening agents inside glossy polyurethane are evenly distributed in the mixture.

Those flattening agents are added to polyurethane finishes to give them their matte, satin, or glossy look. And they are key to preventing that eye-blinding sheen.

Side Note: Now, to be clear here, you should only gently stir the polyurethane by hand – never shake the can. Shaking the can will create air bubbles in the polyurethane. And those air bubbles will still stay around when you apply that polyurethane onto wood.

So what do you do if you’ve forgotten to give that polyurethane a good stirring mix? Are you doomed to a lifetime of eye-watering reflection?

Well, lets get into that and more below…

polyurethane too shiny

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Isn’t A Clear Gloss Polyurethane Finish A Bit Too Shiny?

Compared to Matte and Satin Polyurethane, Clear Gloss is fairly shiny. Designed to be highly reflective, light bounces off this finish easily.

If you are concern about clear gloss being too reflective, then your best option is to avoid it altogether. Instead, opt for a matte or satin finish.

Is There A Polyurethane That Isn’t Shiny?

Well, the poly finish with the least amount of sheen is the matte finish. This poly sheen type is almost universally recommended for use on hardwood floors, because it does such a great job of masking scuff marks and dirt.

Which is important if that hard floor is situated in a high traffic area of your home (such as in the kitchen or the living room).

Plus, visually, this polyurethane finish looks much more ‘real’ compared to other gloss types. As it reflects next to no light, it leaves the hardwood underneath looking natural.

Related Post: Matte vs Satin Finish on Hardwood Floors

How Do You Fix Polyurethane That Is Too Shiny?

If your high gloss or semi-gloss polyurethane is overly bright, you can try giving it the feel of a matte finish by sanding out that sheen.

This involves waiting until the polyurethane coat is not only dry but completely cured and hardened. It can take polyurethane up to 30 days to cure into a hard resin (but give it at least a week).

Once it’s cured, however, you can wet sand the gloss down to a more muted matte sheen.

Related Post: Polyurethane Not Drying? What You Can Do To Fix It

What Is Wet Sanding?

Wet sanding involves applying a lubricant (such as water or oil) to the surface you plan on sanding. And then, using a special type of sandpaper called wet/dry sandpaper, you sand down the surface of the wood.

Wet sanding differs from traditional sanding in that the lubricant prevents the sandpaper from leaving behind any deep scratches and marks.

Related Post: Beginners Guide To Wet Sanding A Polyurethane Finish

Dulling A Polyurethane Finish By Wet Sanding

For a simple guide to rubbing out that high gloss finish, check out The Wood Whisperers quick video below:

So, To Sum Things Up…

A nice shiny table top, or an eye popping hardwood floor are all well and good. But, no-one really wants a wood finish that is blindingly bright.

In which case, a well stirred can of polyurethane is pretty much the simplest way for you to avoid having to deal with an overly glossy poly finish.

However, if you find yourself in a spot of bother and need to take a bit of the sheen off that top coat, then you can wet sand the glossiness down a level or two.


Polyurethane_Matting_Additive.pdf (boatpaint.co.uk)