Moulds are silicone templates for all kinds of shapes. You fill them with a medium like clay, modeling material, or resin and the appliques harden. You attach them to surfaces for a unique design. I love using them on furniture and decor to add details to my designs. I prefer to use fast cast resin. It comes in 2 parts and you mix them in equal parts then pour it into the mould. It hardens within 10 to 15 minutes and turns white. You pop them out of the mould and can attach straight away or paint them first and then attach. It is pliable for a short time after it hardens. This makes it convenient for attaching on curved surfaces or anything uneven. You can also heat the resin moulds to soften them and make them pliable again.
You can use many types of adhesive to attach them. I like using e6000 as it is durable and dries clear. There are many industrial strength adhesives available. Try them and decide which is your favorite. I tape the mould in place until the glue has had time to dry. The weight of the appliques causes them to slide down. If you are applying on a flat surface level to the ground you don’t need to but if it’s upright it’s best to do so. It also ensures the applique remains flush to the surface without any gaps on the sides of it. Experiment with your favorite casting medium to achieve your preferred look. Clay tends to crack and shrink as it dries. Resin does not shrink or crack. Depending on what you are hoping to achieve you will want to use a certain product that has the characteristics you like.
Before you paint, furniture prep is just as important as the finish. Your furniture will only last as long as the base beneath the paint. Most paint companies claim no prep is needed but it’s just a generalized statement with the caveat that the surface you paint on is ready to be painted. You must clean, do whatever repairs are needed, sand if needed, strip if needed, and make sure that the paint will adhere so that a scratch with your nail doesn’t result in seeing the wood underneath. The proper cure times are essential as well.
How do you know what to use and how to use it for prep? It depends on the surface slickness. Some pieces are made of pressed wood with a lacquer or laminate over it. This causes sleek surfaces that make it difficult for paint to adhere properly. That’s when priming is a must. Primers are made to adhere to glossy and slick surfaces however even primer has issues adhering to laminate type surfaces which repel water and thus repel the primer. You will need to sand so that there is some grip given to the product you use on it. I painted a laminate surface on MDF wood. MDF looks nothing like real wood but is comprised of wood fibers. An attractive finish is needed over it. Most of the time it is a faux wood-looking laminate that can be a solid color as well. I used a primer over it and after it had dried, proceeded to paint it with a high-quality paint that claims no prep is needed. What resulted was a peeling mess. The paint would not go on evenly and streaked. No matter how many layers I tried to cover it with, it still peeled easily. I stripped it and sanded the surface with 120 grit paper. After that, I went ahead and primed then painted. The paint stuck and didn’t peel. The lesson of the story, deglossing is not enough on the contact paper like laminate nor does primer prevent paint from peeling. Sanding is a must in certain instances. You cannot cut corners trying to go around essential steps in prep.
Shellac is made from secretions of the female lac bug. It is used to seal wood for a more durable finish. It is self-leveling. It also prevents wood tannins from seeping into the paint and stains that you cannot see coming through like cup rings. It provides a solid layer like resin for stain blocking properties. Certain woods are prone to bleed through more like cedar and redwood. Back in the day when people often smoked inside their homes, the nicotine coats the furniture over time. This is another reason a thorough cleaning with a product like the Krud Kutter degreaser is important to strip off accumulated layers of nicotine and old varnish. Sanding further removes any residue. If you use a shellac-based primer like the Zinsser Bin advance primer, it will help with paint adherence, coverage, and blocking stains as well as bleed-through of tannins. The staining is especially noticeable with light-colored paints and notoriously white paint. White paint is prone to yellowing for many different factors including bleed-through of tannins. This is not to say your white paint finish won’t yellow over time due to sunlight, what you use to seal it as an oil-based varnish will certainly yellow it, and what is used to clean the furniture. Do your diligence to prevent yellowing as much as possible with the proper prep.
I often use a deglosser as the last step as it helps remove any left over varnish and helps with adherence by making the surface a bit tacky to touch. It does not replace sanding. A deglosser merely coats the surface, it doesn’t prevent staining or bleed through. It’s useful to make surfaces less glossy but if you need to sand, you must sand. I like to prime even if it’s not necessary as it helps with the coverage of paint. If you are painting with a light color, you will not need to use as many layers because the primer has excellent coverage if it’s a quality one and it comes in white or gray. You must have a good base layer with certain paints like metallics. Primers are generally cheaper than the boutique paints that are popular these days. Even if the primer is costly, I prefer to use one layer of primer and decrease the double amount of layers I need to apply using light colors. If you are painting black, it isn’t necessary to prime most of the time. You would use a gray primer if you are using cold tone colors like purple, silver, blue, and dark green or dark red. The gray brings out the true shade of the colors.
There is no shortcut to proper prep. Be mindful of what you are using and its properties. There are instances when you can just clean and paint but I prefer to be careful especially selling my furniture. I want it to last for another lifetime. Be wise in choosing the correct products and steps. Remember, the slicker the surface, the more you need to be leery of your paint peeling. For certain paints, you must use primer like with latex paint as it’s a paint meant for walls and not heavy traffic surfaces. You want to be able to clean the furniture after it’s been painted and cured. The paint should not peel or rub off when cleaning with soap and water. Extra steps will avoid extra headaches in the future of having to touch up the furniture.
Decoupage is when you apply an image onto the surface with various mediums so that it adheres. The most common decoupage product is tissue paper as it is thin and easier to apply to the surface without worries of peeling and seeing the edge of the paper if it doesn’t span across the entire area. Other choices are posters, napkins, and other paper like products with a design. When decoupaging, the desired look is one that is smooth, without wrinkles, flat upon the surface, and subtle so that it looks like it is part of the surface. Depending on the thickness and texture of the paper, techniques will vary.
I prefer to use heavier ply tissue papers as there is less likelihood of tearing and wrinkling. If you order tissue papers from sites like Zazzle, you have the option to pick the size and thickness. Ordering the thicker option will make it easier to decoupage and seal. My preferred product is spray adhesives like 3M’s 45 spray adhesive as it is strong but allows you to readjust if needed while remaining sticky. I spray the back of the paper, let the adhesive set a bit, usually a minute and then apply it to the surface and smooth it out with a brayer or wallpaper smoothing tool. I start at the center and smooth towards the edges. I then seal using a spray topcoat like Rustoleum’s spray polyurethanes. Usually, a few coats are sufficient. If the edges lift a little, I put some glue underneath and press it back down. The same applies to napkins or any other lightweight paper.
If you are decoupaging something thicker like a poster, you need a thicker paste like adhesive such as wallpaper or modge podge so that it will not peel. Spread a thin layer onto the surface and press the poster down doing from center to the edges with a smoothing tool. Let it dry and you can seal with a polyacrylic or polyurethane but make sure you do not apply it too thick as the paper will bubble up and distort. If this happens, do not panic. You can iron it smooth with an iron and piece of parchment paper on top of the poster. The iron on method will help smooth any bubbling or wrinkling with any type of paper. You can also use a heat gun and smooth with your tool.
I love the Redesign with Prima decoupage papers because they are intended for decoupage and the textures and paper fibers were chosen to make decoupage easy and durable. They have a few different types of papers made of mulberry fibers. The thicker decoupage paper with a dryer sheet like texture is the easiest as it will not wrinkle no matter the products you use if you smooth it on correctly. You can use any sort of adhesives like modge podge, gesso, and a spray adhesive. You can also use a wet medium like polyurethane or polyacrylic to adhere it just make sure it dries. When you topcoat, the topcoat permeates the paper and further adheres it on the surface.
The rice papers are a thinner consistency but more durable than tissue papers. I prefer a spray adhesive for these as it eliminates the issue of wrinkling. However, the texture of the paper camouflages any wrinkling fairly well. I like to tear the edges before applying so that I can blend around the paper with paint to make it look like the design spans across the whole surface. If you do need to smooth it, you can use the iron on method as well.
The new large decoupage rice papers are thicker than the rice papers and you can see the mulberry fibers on the back. Again, I prefer spray adhesives with a higher strength like 3M’s 90 spray adhesive to adhere them. I spray the back of the paper and apply it going from top to bottom slowly. I apply a bit of gesso or modge podge to the edges to make sure they stay nice and flat. If you use a spray adhesive it should not wrinkle. If you use a paste like gesso or modge podge, make sure you spread it in thin across the surface before applying the paper or as you apply the paper. The papers can be sealed with polyurethane or polyacrylic once you let the paper adhesive dry completely. Use the iron on method if it does wrinkle and you need to eliminate any creases.
If you are looking for something food safe to seal a project or you are concerned about your health refinishing furniture, you would be interested in using nontoxic products for painting and sealing furniture. It’s important to be careful when sealing a furniture piece for a nursery or child’s room and use nontoxic products that will not be harmful to young children. Babies often chew on the railings of cribs. My daughter gnawed on her crib like a little beaver which did cause me concern about the chemicals used in the factory finish on her crib.
Nowadays, there are many non VOC paints and products available from companies. Volatile organic compounds are compounds that are gases emitted into the air. Some of the most common VOCS are: benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, toluene, xylene, and 1,3-butadiene. VOCs are mostly human-made chemicals that are used and produced in the manufacture of paints, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants. Breathing in low levels of VOCs increase your health risks especially if you have asthma or sensitivities to chemicals. The severity depends on how long and often you breathe in VOCs. You can expose yourself to VOCs just by storing paints and products with VOCs.
The level of VOCs is reported to be 2 to 5 times higher inside homes than outside, regardless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial areas. While people are using products containing organic chemicals, they can expose themselves and others to very high pollutant levels, and low levels of VOCs can persist in the air for years. Pretty scary right? This is why it’s important to use air filters, have good ventilation, and air out your home. You don’t want to suffer the short term side effects like nausea, throat and nose irritation, headaches, and dizziness. Long term effect can be cancer, damage to the kidneys or liver, and central nervous system damage. Children and the elderly are at higher risk to the adverse effects of VOCs.
Luckily, there are many kinds of zero VOC paints and products you can purchase to use at home. Zero VOC paints are made without VOC chemicals listed in the US Clean Air Act. There is still the potential for unlisted VOCs to be in the paint. Your safest bet is using all natural paints like milk paint which is made from casein, lime, chalk, and pigment. It is made to use by mixing the powder form with water. It does not last long after mixed so use only as much as you need per application. There are companies with milk paints that are available in containers ready for use but they still have preservatives that keep the paint on the shelf longer as well as bonding agents that help them adhere and are not true milk paints. They are called “milk paint” because it gives you the same smooth finish milk paint does such as Rustoleum’s Milk Paint which is zero VOC and General Finishes Milk Paint. This is why milk paint has a tendency to chip. It doesn’t contain the inorganic bonding agents of other types of paints but uses milk protein. It is less smooth than other paints that are ready to use and is less durable. An example of real milk paint is the Fusion line of milk paint.
Zero VOC paints are still far better than other paints containing VOCs. They come in many colors, are ready to use, and have varying textures and finishes. If you have any questions about the VOC levels, check the MSDS sheet for clarification. One reason why I recommend Wise Owl Paints is because it is not made using box store latex paint with minerals added as is the case with many Zero VOC paint companies. This poses health issues with consideration to inhaling crystalline silicates, but it also affects performance. Their paint is made in small batches from scratch which improves quality. Choosing to use zero VOC paints is always a good option for health safety.
Sealing paints helps with the endurance and durability. You want your furniture to last so sealing it is a no brainer. Some paints now have built in top coats but that has the possibility of adding VOCs. Just because the paint is zero VOC, it doesn’t mean the top coats and varnishes you use are. If you are painting a piece that will be in a high traffic area or the surface top where objects are placed and removed often, durability is a concern. If you are wanting a food grade safe sealant, natural oils are your best bet. Technically any top coat cured for 30 days is food safe including polyurethane and polyacrylic. Linseed, tung, refined hemp, soy, and walnut oil are all natural oils. Shellac is also all natural as it’s made from Indian Lac bugs and is water resistant. Watco has a butcher block oil that seals and protects wood and is food safe.
I’m excited to offer Wise Owl’s furniture tonic as an all natural sealant for wood and paint. It is made with hemp oil, natural wax, and essential oils without any solvents. It comes scented or unscented. It is also hydrating and nourishing for anything you rub it on like leather, wood, skin, hair, ect. You rub it on with a lint free cloth, let dry for 20 minutes and polish. I also highly recommend their furniture salves which have a waxy paste like consistency. When sealing nursery furniture, children’s furniture, and anything you are concerned with the levels of VOCs, using all natural products are the best options. You can find my recommended products in my shop page. Be safe and happy painting.
Paintbrushes are one of the most important tools for furniture refinishing. Investing in quality brushes is essential as you use them everyday and they effect the finish on your work. There are many different paintbrushes out there and finding the ones that match your needs is much like finding the right paint to use. I use all kinds of paintbrushes for varying reasons such as size, type of bristle, shape, and cost. I still use chip brushes when I want a certain finish but I expect them to fall apart and shed bristles like crazy. They are basically disposable and not long term brushes. These I’m not too concerned with maintaining but what about the brushes you spend $30-$60 on a piece? You want to make sure you are taking care of your expensive brushes.
I’m not the best at taking care of my brushes or gently handling them. I’m the type where my paint brushes are covered in paint splatters and never look like new after the first use. For that reason, I invest in durable brushes that can withstand the occasional overnight with paint still on it type of scenario. I can clean them and get them back to serviceable shape. What do you do when the paint has dried on the bristles? What do you do when the bristles have hardened over time? What do you do when the bristles have bent out of shape being in the water and crammed with other brushes? There are a few tips and tricks you can use to get the bristles soft, paint free, and in original condition.
Murphy’s oil soap will remove dried up paint and condition the paint brush bristles. I soak them in a solution of Murphy’s oil soap and water for 12 hours and then use dawn soap and a scrubby sponge to clean off the dried paint. I’ve been able to resurrect many paint brushes because of Murphy’s oil soap. Another way to revive your brushes is to soak them in fabric softener. Use 1/4 cup of fabric softener to a quart of water and soak your brushes over night. If you’ve been using oil based paint or oil based products with your brushes, you’ll want to clean them with some mineral spirits and soak in some turpentine to get all the oily residue off. If you’ve been using the brush to wax, use mineral spirits to clean.
Cleaning my paintbrushes that have not been near death and are just dirty with wet paint, I love using Scrubby Soap. It’s made of biodegradable oils so not harsh on your hands and smells citrusy. Using dawn dish soap works mostly as well. I will also spray my brushes that get a lot of residue with Krud Kutter’s tough task cleaner. You can use denatured alcohol to clean your brushes but just be aware that it will dry out the bristles. There are better alternatives to alcohol when cleaning. There are also specialty paintbrush cleaning solutions you can use that work well like Krud Kutter Brush Wash-Cleaner and Renewer. I highly recommend the Krud Kutter brand because their products are non-toxic, biodegradable, and eco-friendly. Soaking your brushes in this solution will remove some of the more stubborn dried on paint/ primer from the bristles.
How you store your paintbrushes is just as important as cleaning. If you want to be extremely thorough you can wrap a wet paper towel around the brush bristles after it has been cleaned, put the brush in a zip lock bag or wrap with cling wrap and store it into your refrigerator. It will be ready to use when you need it. Never store your paintbrushes with the bristles down in a container as it will splay the bristles. I hang mine on my pegboard if I can or store them with the bristles up in a container. I just dampen the bristles with water before I need to use them so the paint does not go on too thick or dry quickly on the bristles. I use Cling on brushes a lot and those you store in clean water. Before I got the Cling On brush keeper my brushes would get bent out of shape with splayed hairs but now that I’ve been using the brush keeper it’s been a game changer. It’s a big fancy stainless steel bucket with 8 rubber holders to prevent the brushes from being crammed on the bottom. It’s also allowed me to easily switch brushes while I paint.
If your brushes are splayed and have the annoying stray hairs sticking out here and there, you can fix it by wrapping some twine around the clean and damp brush bristles loosely. Let the brush dry and the bristles should be back to normal. Making sure you don’t keep the brush bristles down so they rest on a surface while storing, will help to stop this from happening. Maintaining your paintbrushes is essential if you don’t want to keep replacing them. However, if you forget to clean them after each use, you can still revive your dried up paint brushes and bring them back to life.
One of my favorite finishes to create is a blended surface using metallic paints. It is absolutely possible to blend any kind of paint, in my experience and each type just takes a specific technique because of the different qualities in each variety of paint. Metallic paints are thinner, acrylic based, and dry fairly quickly especially when you apply them in thin layers like I do to avoid obvious brushstrokes. Metallic paint vary in coverage from transparent to opaque and this effects the finish as well and how I layer them. I will share a few of my tips when it comes to blending metallic paints.
The base coat of the surface is extremely important in that it impacts the color of the metallic finish and how many coats you need to use to get adequate coverage. I usually try to use a shade similar to the paints I am using. For example if I want a pearly white finish I would paint the base with white primer and paint. This will give it a true white color as opposed to if you used a base of grey paint. What kinds of paint do I use for the base? I have used chalk based paints, enamel, and milk paints. My preference depends really on the color and the finish I want. For more rustic boho blends I will use chalk paints and for a smoother, immaculate finish I prefer milk paints in that they self level and you rarely get any brushstrokes. Metallic paint is so thin that the base texture will appear so make sure you sand any scuffs and scratches on the surface.
I use synthetic brushes with metallic paints. I highly advise not to use a natural bristle brush as they shed and will give you a rougher texture. When creating a base you can paint it in one solid color or blend various colors to give it a more apparent transition in metallic colors. When I painted my base for my most recent Moroccan sunset inspired piece, I used a base of General Finishes barn red milk paint. The warm tones of the metallics I was using would be enhanced with the red base. I used orange, reds, yellows and pinks so they are all complimentary to red. If I was using blues, silvers, purples, and colder tones, I would paint the base a cold tone as well like gray or any of the above colors. If your base is darker then the metallic paint you are using, it will appear darker. I rarely use a white base unless it is for a shade of white metallic.
When blending, apply the paint with a damp brush and go in one direction. This will help with a smooth finish and better blended look. I usually use the same brush to apply all the colors unless I am doing a very light color with a dark color. Using the same brush helps with the color transition and making the shades meet without too much of a stark contrast. For my Moroccan dresser I used the same brush and applied the darker color first and from there, onto a gradually lighter shade. I did the copper first, moved on to a orangish hue, dark yellow, and layered the pink on last. Let the layers of paint dry first before applying the next thin layer. While wet it looks rougher then it usually is once dried so don’t worry if it looks different then what you are wanting. Let it dry before deciding if you need to apply another layer. I sweep the paint on in one direction and mist my brush with water as needed to keep it damp and the paint.
When the paint starts to seize and harden using your brush to move it will cause it to drag and look patchy and rough. Work quickly while the paint is wet and leave it alone. Do not overwork the paint. This is the most common problem with new users of metallic paints. It is best to have a gentle touch with metallics and lightly brush them on the surface. They are not thick like chalk paints and not porous so that it allows you to play around with them and blend by spraying water on the surface like chalk paints. Do not spray water directly onto the metallic paint as it will cause droplets to form that will interrupt the smooth coverage of the paint. Dampen your brush to keep it wet. The magical thing about metallic paints is that blending can actually look much more smooth. You can apply a thin layer or a certain metallic color on top of the one you used first and that will give it a light glaze like effect on top of the metallic color underneath it. For example if you apply a thin coat of gold on top of a blue or red metallic, it will give it a gold shimmer. The more layers of it you apply on top the more apparent the top color will be. When I applied the pink metallic on top of the dark gold and orange, it gave it a pink glow that was not opaque. I’ve created my signature peacock finishes this way.
Metallic paint is a light reflective paint so you want to make sure you apply it under bright lighting. When you examine the surface at different angles the coverage will appear differently and show you where it is less and more. It looks very differently under varying lighting making it difficult to capture the true color with a camera. The play of color under light is what I find magical about it as it shifts in tone. It can look lighter and darker from one moment to the next. Practice on a small surface until you find the right technique for the finish you want. Once you become familiar with painting using metallics, I’m sure you’ll find their complex beauty very unique and mesmerizing.
Have you ever had a piece that had drawers missing a corner or the furniture piece itself.? The fix is quite simple as I will explain in my video. I used wd40, tape, hot glue, and bondo to repair the edge of my serpentine dresser drawer. A bit of sanding and paint made it look like new. The result was impeccable.
A staging wall is extremely important for the presentation of your furniture piece and can create an atmosphere that gives you a signature style. For quite some time, I’ve been using a wall in my home that is like most walls, white with texturing. It’s not awful and is certainly neutral so that I can stage any kind of design in front without it clashing with my furniture. It makes for great catalog-like photos so that on my Etsy shop and other listings it shows clean, consistent, and clear.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a white wall. Any wall at all is a must for staging. Being me, I decided one day that I couldn’t stand having a white wall anymore and pondered ‘how I would be able to have a creative wall that is unique and yet serves the purpose of enhancing my photos despite my diverse range of furniture design styles? What color can I use? What design can I do? How unique can I make it? What would work with every style of furniture and yet be a statement?‘
I couldn’t come up with a decision that satisfied me. There are neutral colors that will complement any other color such as gray, beige, or black but I didn’t feel particularly inspired by painting my wall just one color.
I thought of all the staging walls I’ve seen over the years and how some artists have ones that automatically identify them to the viewer because it is so distinctive. But these artists have a consistent style and I wanted to be able to do goth, industrial, modern, farmhouse, shabby chic, western, boho, eclectic, and more while not worrying my wall wouldn’t work with what I create.
I wanted the freedom to paint as I feel and I wanted the same for the wall I would create.
There was only one solution: create a faux wall that can be swapped out according to what would work best with the furniture I am staging at that time. I decided to do white wainscoting on the bottom because I love the two-tone look of elegant wainscoting and something colorful on top.
I purchased wall panels and the wainscoting from my home improvement store. I found a 4 x 8 white wall panel made of flexible plastic that was pretty lightweight. I then affixed strong velcro across the back of it and to the wall above the wainscoting. I did this so that I could create as many wall panels as I wanted while allowing for easy removal by simply peeling them off and putting up another one with the same velcro. It would allow me to experiment with a diverse range of wall designs, much like my furniture.
In my mind, there was never going to be a perfect wall that would work for everything I do. I was thrilled at the chance to finally paint all the walls I’ve been inspired by and wanted to create but couldn’t feasibly have all in my home. Yet, sometimes, this mom’s brain comes up with a brilliant idea once in a blue moon.
We set up my faux wall over my white wall with the velcro as I had planned. I used industrial velcro that is 2 in. wide and 15 ft. long. We cut the strips into lengths needed to cover the perimeter of the wall panel so it would be nice and flat against the wall.
It was like setting up a blank canvas on my wall. Now I could paint it as I chose as often as I chose. I could share a range of wall designs with everyone and not worry about it being a permanent fixture.
My excitement grew with all the ideas that swirled in mind. I couldn’t wait to begin.
Stay tuned for what I created with my new faux wall.
Shipping furniture doesn’t have to be a complicated ordeal. Companies are now making it easier for people to ship furniture and other items with ease.
Uship.com is a fantastic way to support small businesses by booking with private carriers with reasonable rates. You get white glove shipping without paying exorbitant prices and get to know reliable carriers. It’s my favorite way to ship besides using the carriers I have gotten to know over time. Watch my detailed video for booking on uship.com to get your furniture listed and seen by private carriers.
This weekend I worked on getting the perfect finish on a dining table top. It has a veneer top which makes it difficult to stain evenly and top coat. I kept getting streaks in my top coat and was about to pull out my hair in frustration. I’ve had to sand and restain, sand some more, apply another layer of top coat, and sand again; well you get the picture. I’ve finally managed to get a streakless finish and thought I would share what I’ve learned so you don’t make the same mistakes I did.
I used java gel stain from General Finishes which is an oil based stain. It’s thicker then regular stain so more like a paint in texture, but I love how it provides even coverage more than regular stains and you can use it like paint in some situations. Oil also penetrates more deeply than water based stains which sit more on the surface. Always wipe on some mineral spirits on the surface you are applying the gel stain beforehand. This will give you better and easier application as you are wiping the stain on and off. It avoids the splotchiness which can occur. I used a foam brush to apply the gel stain, worked in small sections at a time to wipe it off with a lint free rag in the direction of the wood grain. Keep going until all of the surface area has been covered. It must dry for 12-24 hours before top coating with an oil based top coat or 72 hours if you are using a water based product as we all know oil repels water so a longer drying time is needed for the oil to be absorbed.
I let it dry for a day and used Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane in Satin. It is an oil based top coat. I love how oil based top coats make the wood look richer so I chose to use it and also because I had used the oil based gel stain. It has a yellowish tint which gives the stain an amber hue. I’ve heard wonderful things about General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Urethane as being easier to apply so I will try that next time but this is based off of my experience with the Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane.
I used a wide foam brush to apply it. You an also use a good quality synthetic bristle brush. Do not use a roller or you will get air bubbles. I applied one layer, over lapping my strokes and going in one direction. I let it dry for 6 hours and applied another layer. I began noticing streaks under my bright lighting. I used a 3M Scotch-Brite pad and wet sanded in between layers as it dried. You should get a white powdery residue and not gooey or it means it hasn’t dried long enough. Sand in one direction. I did this by hand. You wet sand by wetting the pad with water as you sand. this helped eliminate the streaking. After I had applied 3 regular layers like this with my foam brush, I thinned the polyurethane with some mineral spirits so get it more in the consistency of a wipe on poly. I used my foam brush to apply it again. No sanding in between this time as it was not needed. I allowed it to dry 2 hours or more before applying on another thin layer. Finally I had achieved the perfect glossy top coat.
That sounded like a lot of work because it was. I’m hoping my experience makes it easier and less frightening for you to create a perfect stained and sealed table top. Dining room tables can be intimidating to refinish but with the right technique, they don’t need to be.