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I'm making some furniture out of plywood for grandchildren's room - book shelf with drawers. I've painted it with hydro-enamel water-based paint. I'm thinking of putting one coat (or more) of polyurethane to protect the finish. Will this work? Will it in fact give extra protection? If so, should I use water-based or oil-based poly?
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Many years ago, I stripped and painted my kitchen cabinets with the same latex paint that I used on the walls and top-coated them with a polyurethane varnish, hoping that the finish would hold up better in that environment. It did, but the polyurethane had a slight amber tint not really noticeable at first but became much darker as time passed. If I was doing it again, I would definitely use as water-based product as they don't darken in time.

Is the paint that you used made for painting wood cabinets and furniture? Several manufacturers advertise their product as having been developed for painting cabinets, and you may find that a poly top coat is not required. If you do decide to go with the extra protection, you may want to check with the paint manufacturer to make sure that the two products are compatible.
 

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I'm not sure the poly top coat would be any harder than an enamel paint. Years ago the glossier the paint the harder it got. I don't know if that's still true or not. If you do I think water based over water based should be okay but one issue might be adhesion of the poly to the enamel. You might need to roughen up the enamel for it to stick and that would show through the poly.
 

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I'm going to look at it from a different point of view...future maintenance...

If you leave it painted and it develops a scratch or stain, etc... you will be able to do a quick sand and repaint and it will look fresh again.

If you poly over the paint and a scratch or stain develops on the poly, it will be much harder to repair.

If the room color changes (and kids never want that :smile: ), you will be able to change the color accordingly (if not poly'ed).

I would leave it painted only...
 

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Nick's caution is spot on. You will want to recoat or touch up at some point in time.
My experience is that the waterbourne enamels are no where near as durable as the old solvent based formulas. I don't think it has anything to do with the 'solvent' so much as the other ingredients in the mix.
The the old enamel paints from the 50's and 60's were basically armour plate.
 

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I'm going to look at it from a different point of view...future maintenance...

If you leave it painted and it develops a scratch or stain, etc... you will be able to do a quick sand and repaint and it will look fresh again.

If you poly over the paint and a scratch or stain develops on the poly, it will be much harder to repair.

If the room color changes (and kids never want that :smile: ), you will be able to change the color accordingly (if not poly'ed).

I would leave it painted only...
We painted our cabinets (latex) when remodeling and regretted not using Poly over it........ until now because we have touched up a time or two without hassle and now that it is time for a color change, thank God it I'm not dealing with coats of Poly.

We will look into the "Made for cabinet paints" and go with that.

Thanks all.
 

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I'm not sure if available in US but here Varathane makes paint that is bullet proof ! The colours are limited but nice, I've used on furniture, shop projects even outdoors and results are fantastic. I think the paint has Polyurethane in it !
 
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I agree with Nick.

These are my thoughts and (probably) mine only. For my house....

Walls - latex paint and probably eggshell sheen. Ceilings - flat latex

Trim (baseboards, crown molding, bookshelves and such) oil based paints. Oil based paints are tougher than latex but not the toughest.
* For big trim jobs beyond baseboards and common crown molds, I’ll use enamels. This is about as hard as I want to go.

If I’m building and spraying houses, I typically stay 100% latex unless the customer request something different. That’s easiest for me and for customer when they decide to repaint.
 
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