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Expert's Corner — evaporates

TIP: Thinning Polyurethane with Naphtha

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Naphtha dries (evaporates) much faster than mineral spirits (paint thinner). This leads many to believe that thinning polyurethane with naphtha will make it dry faster. This is not entirely the case. Like all varnishes, oil-based polyurethane dries in two steps. The first is evaporation of the thinner. The second, and much longer step, is by the crosslinking brought about by the introduction of oxygen from the air. When you apply polyurethane, you notice that it stays wet on the surface for a short time as the thinner evaporates. Then the finish goes into a tacky or sticky stage for an...

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TIP: Basic Understanding of Solvents

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Following is a basic understanding of the common solvents available in paint stores and home centers. Mineral spirits (paint thinner) and naphtha dilute and clean up oils and varnishes, including oil-based polyurethane varnish. Neither of these solvents damage any fully dried finish, so you can safely use them for cleaning—that is, removing grease or wax. Denatured alcohol thins and cleans up shellac. This solvent will damage a dried shellac finish almost instantly and lacquer and water-based finish fairly quickly, so be very careful if you use alcohol for cleaning. Lacquer thinner and acetone thin and clean up all solvent-based lacquer...

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