Minwax Polyurethane (Oil Based) on Polymer Clay

Minwax Polyurethane on Polymer ClayVideo #535: Four month test results show that this varnish product is compatible with Premo Polymer Clay (so far).

Topics Covered In This Video:

  • Tested Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane (Oil Based) on a baked Premo Polymer Clay Bead.
  • Sample was dipped and left to rest for 4 months.
  • Finish has water-like consistency.
  • Stir gently, never shake. Shaking can cause bubbles in the finish.
  • If dipping, shake off excess varnish and use paper towel to catch and remove drips.
  • Can be brushed on with little to no brush marks.
  • Clean brushes with paint thinner, low odor varsol or mineral spirits.
  • Fast-Drying (for an oil based product). Still tacky after 12 hours… hard cured in 24 hrs.
  • Finish is hard, thin, smooth, semi-gloss, durable, not sticky and is compatible with polymer clay.

Do you have any suggestions for videos on tips, techniques or products you would like to learn more about? Let me know in the comments section below!

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Looking forward to hearing from you!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor
  1. Elsie N, 16 June, 2014

    Awesome video You’re always my go to polymer clay expert :3

  2. Anna Sabina, 16 June, 2014

    Does the Polyurethane have a smell after it has dried?

  3. Cindy Lietz, 16 June, 2014

    It doesn’t seem to have much of a smell at all after drying Anna.

  4. Maria C, 16 June, 2014

    Hi Cindy: Thank you for testing this out for us. So, do you prefer polyurethane to Future, then?

  5. Cindy Lietz, 16 June, 2014

    Hi Maria, years ago I recommended Future, but now my preferred method is sanding and buffing, and then if I really want extra shine I will use Renaissance Wax or another glaze like resin or one of these new ones I have been testing… this product is very new to me so I can’t say if it is my favorite yet, but I really loved how smooth it went on and the lovely shine it gave. It is definitely way better than the Future Floor Finish in my opinion.

  6. Christine Hanley, 17 June, 2014

    My only concern is that in over time will it, like other varnishes, “yellow”? 4 months is still pretty recent.

  7. Cindy Lietz, 17 June, 2014

    Hi Christine, from what I am hearing this finish will indeed yellow over time, giving the piece a warm aged patina. If that is a look that you don’t like, then you would not want to use this product, especially on light colored pieces.

  8. Ernie Boudreau, 11 July, 2014

    hi Cindy,
    FYI the minwax polyurethane does not contain a varnish in it, therefore it will not yellow over time. what they are seeing is the color of the wood seeping into the old varnish poly making it have a yellow color to it. another product i use is the water based version called polycrylic made from minwax. it works beautiful and has no smell what so ever!! and dries faster and just as hard as the oil based poly. hope this helps and by the way it goes on white and dries crystal clear

  9. Cindy Lietz, 13 July, 2014

    Thank you for your feedback Ernie! I really appreciate it!

  10. Sprup, 17 June, 2014

    Thanks so much for the info!! I love how you actually answer your fans and are thorough.

  11. Dixie Ann, 18 June, 2014

    Hi Cindy, thanks so much for testing the Minwax oil based finish. I personally don’t feel 4 months is a long enough time to rate this product. I have heard from several people in regards to using it and after a couple of years, the beads they used it on got a little sticky and one person had to replace her purchased product because of the guarantee that was placed on the sold piece. Perhaps you could check back on this about every 6 months exposing it to different environments and give us an update to see how it is doing? I love the Ren Wax and the water based Varathane which comes in both satin and gloss finishes and has been tried, tested and still looks great after 15-20 yrs.

  12. Sue F, 19 June, 2014

    Hi Dixie Ann,

    I agree about incompatibilities not necessarily showing up after 4 months!

    I was reorganising part of my studio the other day and came across some of my very early polymer clay beads from around 2007. I didn’t remember putting green in them, and some were so amazingly ugly I wondered why I didn’t bin them straight away. Then I realised that the composition metal leaf that I’d used had reacted with the clay and turned green over time.

    I’d looked at those beads about 2 years after I made them and they were OK then, so it took somewhere between 2 and 7 years to show up.

    Those particular beads were made with Kato (of course! :D), but I also dug out some Premo beads I made using Cindy’s super Mixed Media Art Sheet technique from 2010 that had the same composition metal leaf used, and it had gone green in those too.

    The unused metal leaf from that packet is still fine, as are the few papercraft pieces I’d used it on. So it seems to just be a problem with polymer clay (Kato and Premo, anyway), and the really annoying thing about that is that the particular brand is specifically marketed for polymer clay use! It only seems to be a problem with the gold leaf — my oldest pieces with the same brand’s silver leaf are fine — so I’m looking out for a better brand for gold leaf now that won’t give me a nasty surprise a few years down the track.

    Happy claying,


  13. Dixie Ann, 19 June, 2014

    Thanks Sue for clueing us in on your gold leaf problem. Could you share the brand name you used? I am also testing a couple of products on some premo and after 6 months seem okay. However, because of surprises later on I am being somewhat more cautious to my time limits. One thing I did notice with the Sculpey brand of glaze that after applying it and allowing it to dry throughly, (several days) whatever was left over from my project was stored in little plastic bags that were compatible with the PC previously, turned out to be sticky some time later when I was sorting out my orphan beads. Somewhere along the way I was told Sculpey had changed it’s formula for their glaze and I don’t think it was for the better. I only use Premo so cannot tell you if if would happen with Kato or Fimo or the other brands. One of the reasons why Cindy is so adament about us testing our own brands.

  14. Jenn Sklener, 20 June, 2014

    I have used minwax polyurethane for years with great results.

  15. Cindy Lietz, 21 June, 2014

    This is an excellent discussion! It is a tricky one, because it is difficult to know exactly what is causing something to change over time. It could be something in the clay, maybe some uncured polymers slowly working their way to the surface and reacting with the finish…. or it could be something introduced to the piece sometime later, such as a perfume or body lotion that is causing the problem and not the actual piece itself.

    It is important for me to do thorough testing. But obviously, I would not have time to test something for 7 years before bringing it to the market. It is the kind of think that would be important to know however, if one was creating thousand dollar pieces to put in a gallery or art collection or something.

    Four to six months really should be plenty of time to know whether a piece is compatible enough, for most circumstances. That is not saying that something could not change over a long time… just as we now know that some of the oil colors that the masters used in their paintings are now known to be “fugitive” colors (disappear over time), and that some varnishes yellow with age. We can’t be afraid to try new products and test new things even if we don’t quite yet know how it will last.

    One option is to avoid using finishes altogether and just sand and buff your pieces and only add a museum quality finish such as Renaissance Wax.

    Sue… your problem with the imitation Gold leaf sounds like an oxidation issue. My guess the ‘gold’ is actually ‘brass’ and the green is the natural patina that brass gets as it oxidizes. Are there spots where the metal was exposed to air or maybe salt from sweat or ocean air or something? That could turn the metal green over time. Especially if the exposure was in tiny areas, in might explain why it took so long to turn color as well.

    Anyway, what I am trying to say is that I will try and test for as long as possible but I won’t be able to test for much longer than 4 months or so, nor will I be able to test against every possible chemical or environmental exposures. It just would hold me back from getting the information out there. If we need to add to what I’ve learned, with the information you guys have learned in the field, then all the better. My views are never set in stone. More like in the pack sand on the beach… easily changed if new info comes along! :)

  16. Cindy Lietz, 21 June, 2014

    (I apologize for the few typos… I sure miss that edit button… but I think you’ll still know what I meant!)

  17. Sue F, 23 June, 2014

    Hi Cindy,

    That’s a good point about oxidation from exposure to air or the elements, but I don’t think that was the problem in my case. The metal leaf that went green was totally enclosed, on either red or black clay with a LOT of translucent over the top in the case of the oldest beads (still on my polymer L-plates then!), and was still under a couple of thin layers of translucent in the case of the Mixed Media Art Sheet beads. Also, the oldest beads had been sealed away in a ziplock bag for most of their life, and the others had never been used in jewellery or worn, and hardly ever handled.

    I’m sure you’re right about oxidation, but it’s from something else — the metal leaf that I haven’t used has been much more exposed than any of the beads and it’s still fine — and it seems to be from the polymer clay as far as I can tell. But I think I’m going to throw a whole heap of things at the unused portion to see if I can make it go green deliberately, and perhaps figure out what happened!

    And you definitely shouldn’t stop testing! LOL
    I love trying new things just to see what happens. Sometimes I make a great discovery, and sometimes I end up with something that looks like it came out of an Alien movie. All good fun. :D

    Have a great week,


  18. Cindy Lietz, 23 June, 2014

    :) I was thinking Sue that maybe the oxidation (rusting) is coming from a salt or something that is in the ink. What brand of metal leaf did you use BTW? I just dug out some of my old Art Sheet beads with imitation gold leaf and they are just fine. I believe I used the Mona Lisa Brand. I also used Adirondack Inks… Did you use something different? Would be very interested in the results of your tests… of course!

  19. Sue F, 24 June, 2014

    There’s no ink in the oldest beads with discoloured metal leaf: just polymer clay and the metal leaf, under a thick layer of translucent clay.

    The most exotic material I’d tried with polymer clay at that stage was acrylic paint, but there wasn’t any of that in the discoloured beads (and the beads that did have it are fine; no discolouration or other weirdness).

    For the art sheet beads I used Adirondack alcohol inks. I’d stamped with black StazOn ink too but that was on a separate layer with translucent between it and the metal leaf.

    The composition metal leaf I used was from Fire Mountain Gems. I think it might be their own brand. It refers to Kato Polyclay on the packaging but it’s not a Kato product.
    This stuff: firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h202623bs

    I’ll make sure the Mona Lisa brand is in my test list, thanks! :D

  20. Marion Rayner, 19 June, 2014

    Thanks Cindy for showing us this product. As I’ve always been a fan of Future – which seems to no longer be available – I was interested in this. I wonder if it can be bought in the UK? I’ll find out.

    I’d also like to ask about your fabulous stand for hanging ‘dripping’ items on. Is this a camping accessory? i.e. for putting a pan over a fire?

  21. Christine Hanley, 20 June, 2014

    Hi Marion I just wanted to let you know something I found out recently when I was looking in every store near me looking for Future floor wax. lt is now called Pledge Floor Care Multi Surface Finish by Johnson. It is the same product just a different name. Read it on one of the polymer clay sites somewhere.

  22. Marion Rayner, 20 June, 2014

    Thanks Christine. I will go and check it out and let you know how it works.

  23. Marion Rayner, 22 June, 2014

    Hi Christine

    I found it, the ‘Pledge’ floor polish. It’s labelled ‘Pledge – with Future’. It’s not the same, it does give a shine but it’s not as good as Future used to be. Also, it can easily be washed off with water. Disappointed, yet again! But thanks for the suggestion.

  24. Cindy Lietz, 23 June, 2014

    Hi Marion, that metal thing I used for hanging the piece to dry on is actually for holding a glass candle holder. I have several around the house. This one I broke the glass on so use it for a variety of things in the studio. Looks like Christine answered your other question. Thanks Christine!

  25. Marion Rayner, 24 June, 2014

    Thanks Cindy. I shall hunt around for a similar contraption, it looked perfect for the job!

  26. Julia G, 20 June, 2014

    Your test lab videos are wonderful, and I love the funky blue glasses in the pocket of your lab coat!

  27. Cindy Lietz, 13 July, 2014

    Thanks Julia! My mom gave me those glasses in a bunch of old stuff she had. They are real vintage glasses with clip on blue sun shades. On of the clear glass lenses are cracked, but they have such a cool steam punk scientist look, I thought they made a great accessory for my lab coat! Thanks for noticing… you’re the first one to make a comment about them!

  28. Janice W. Armistead, 25 January, 2015

    Hi Cindy…
    Re the Minwax Polyurethane Oil Based:
    I understood from other videos that you do not recommend oil based with polymer clay. But this one IS ok? Reason being, I wondered if time had changed the recommendation.

  29. Cindy Lietz, 27 January, 2015

    Hi Janice, I used to think it was a hard fast rule, oil with raw polymer clay, water based with baked polymer clay…. but I no longer think that. I have found with all the different formulations of products there are today, the rules kept getting broken. Sometimes a water based product would work and and sometimes not, and same thing for the oil based ones. So now I test everything first. I don’t assume it will work or fail until I know for sure. It’s safer that way… :)

  30. Sandra Cox, 25 May, 2015

    I’m probably asking the wrong person but does anyone know if polyer thing would give off a chemical that would hurt birds if I seal my mosaic bird bath with the polyurethane. I am using plaster of Paris as my grout and I want to make sure it’s still good. does anyone know if it would hurt the birds. anxiously waiting for response from somebody please help me.

  31. Jocelyn C, 26 May, 2015

    Hi Sandra!

    I don’t have birds, but I just put “birds and fumes” in the search facility and came up with a lot of information on the topic, mostly in comments made by membership who own birds.

    Think if you spend a minute reading through the responses, you’ll be able to establish you own comfort level. Definitely, I think I would keep the birds out of the room in which you are baking, never burn the clay, and keep ventilation levels high.

    A friend of mine rehabs parrots for their next forever home, and when she crafts she rolls their cage out on her screened in porch, then uses fans to blow the air out in the opposite direction.

    This is one area that you want to practice good safety for the health of your animals.

    Maybe some of the readership who own birds will comment back to you in this thread and offer advise.

    Good luck and all best….

  32. Cindy Lietz, 27 May, 2015

    Hi Sandra, I am not sure if you were worried about the fumes from baking or if you were worried about using the baked clay in a bird bath, but either way, you might want to ask this kind of question in a bird forum. Maybe ask if it is ok to use plastics in the water of a birdbath, since that is basically what it is. I know that people don’t really recommend you use polymer clay in aquariums, so I am guessing it probably wouldn’t be the best choice for birds either, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask. If you do find an answer, do be sure to come back and let us know. I bet there are others who would love to find out about that.

  33. Catalina, 28 July, 2015

    Have you tested a polyuathane that is water based? I think Min Wax makes one. It is lower in fumes and dries much faster. And of course, clean up much easier. I still like Future and have not had too many issues with it. I just ordered more UV resin from Epoxyjewelry.com. Love his stuff!!

  34. Cindy Lietz, 04 August, 2015

    Hi Catalina, I have not yet tested the water based Polyurethane by Minwax or any other as far as I remember. I just haven’t gotten around to it. (I have so many products to test that it is not funny…. if only there were more hours set aside for getting stuff like that done!) :)

  35. Raghda Khoshala, 26 February, 2017

    Hi Cindy :) I’ve posted this on your video on youtube and i’m not sure if you got it or not so just in case, here it is..

    well, I’ve been experimenting with glazes for a year now and it’s frustrating, really. First, I tried sculpey glaze which i absolutely Hate! It’s a terrible product Which almost made me give up on claying. But anyway, i then tried several nail polishes they worked fine but i didn’t trust it much so i tried clear gloss spray paints but they peel right off.

    And lastly, I’ve been working with polyurethane oil based varnishes since i can’t find the water based one anywhere but all of them are really thick so they show brush strokes and after awhile they made my pieces. Also, cleaning is a bit long process compared to water based as i guess u only need water to clean.

    So, I’ve decided to buy it online but now when i saw this video i hesitated as the one you use in the video is really thin which i prefer over varathane milky consistency. I usually make charms which usually are roughly handled and working lately on polymer clay jewelry. I just need your advice which one should i get the varathane polyurethane waterbased or this one Minwax polyurethane oil based. Since you’ve used both, which of them is more durable/doesn’t leave brush marks/doesn’t yellow/doesn’t scratch easily/gives glassy look rather than plasticy look. I’m sorry if i’m asking for a lot but i’m really frustrated and i need your help.?

  36. Cindy Lietz, 28 February, 2017

    I agree the Sculpey Glaze is definitely not good. They had a good one for awhile there, but not any more. I don’t understand why a clay company as big as there’s can’t package a decent glaze… but it is what it is.

    This oil based one is really good, but it does tend to yellow slightly over time. I found the brush strokes evened out quite nicely and the surface is smooth and glossy many years down the road.

    The water based one is of course easier to clean up after. It too flattens out nicely if it is not too thickly coated.

    I really prefer to not use either glazes and just go with sanding, buffing and using a little Renaissance Wax. But I mostly do larger smooth pieces and not little charms. I think you’re just going to have to try using both and decide which one is easier for you to work with. I do understand your frustration though. That’s why I rarely glaze anything… it is such a huge pain!

  37. Raghda Khoshala, 08 March, 2017

    I don’t know why i didn’t get a notification that you replied! but anyway, i was actually thinking the same thing when i left my comment! Did they even do any tests before releasing it to the market?! not to mention that it’s really expensive compared to what you get. It’s hard to believe that this is the same company that makes premo clay!

    I’ve been experimenting lately with sanding and buffing but it’s so much work really and not suitable for everything! i know it’s worth it but i guess am gonna stick to glazing for now.

    Anyway, I think i’m going to get the Varathane one just to stay on the safe side. And, I just can’t thank you enough for everything you do. You’ve been a great help for me and for many many others! God bless you and gives you all the best in life <3

  38. Dixie Ann, 28 February, 2017

    Hi Raghda,
    for a comprehensive guide to using glazes and topcoats on polymer clay to help solve and relieve your frustration, might I suggest you visit thebluebottle.com and read Gingers extensive report on this very matter. She is a master at testing many different products and can probably help you make the best decision on what to use for whatever clay you are working with. I personally agree with Cindys view of using no coatings but when I do make charms to give as gifts to my customers I feel a good topcoat applied the correct way will help protect it a little longer. Good Luck Doll.

  39. Dixie Ann, 28 February, 2017

    Sorry that website was bluebottletree.com

  40. Raghda Khoshala, 08 March, 2017

    Thanks so much for the help :) I actually tend to visit her website often. She has many great information that helped me a lot too. May i ask, when you glaze those charms which one do u use?

  41. Cynthia Bliss, 29 September, 2017

    Maybe you can help me? I have a clay oil lamp that I would like to coat with something to prevent it from leaking oil. I think I’d like to use polyurethane . My question is after it is dry would the polyurethane catch on fire when I light the lamp?

  42. Cindy Lietz, 02 October, 2017

    Hi Cynthia, I am sorry I don’t have any experience using this finish on a clay oil lamp to seal it. (I am assuming you’re referring to an earthen clay oil lamp because I don’t think polymer clay would be a good thing to make an oil lamp out of.) Perhaps you could ask the manufacturer whether their product would be suitable for your needs? Good luck!

  43. Sue E, 23 October, 2019

    Hi Cindy,
    I want to make a birdbath using an old satellite dish. I thought it would be fun to make the tiles out of polymer clay since I can shape them to the curve of the dish and make my own designs. Is it possible to use these tiles outside and underwater?
    Thank you!

  44. Cindy Lietz, 25 October, 2019

    That sounds like a fun project Sue! Polymer clay is actually plastic, so it is naturally waterproof and doesn’t need to be sealed. If it is in direct sunlight, you may find some of the colors will fade over time, but other than that it will be fine.

  45. Sue E, 26 October, 2019

    Thank you so much for your reply! I appreciate your taking the time. Now, to get started!

  46. Kathryn W, 19 August, 2020

    Hi there,

    Wondering if you have ever tried the oil based polyurethane with air dry clay or plaster? So far it seems perfect for what I’m making (Christmas ornaments) but I’m a little wary that over time it’ll yellow or crack.

    A piece I tested ~6 months ago is still looking good but I can hardly test for years before I sell any..

  47. Marlies S, 09 September, 2020

    Hi Cindy,
    Thank you for all your amazing tutorials. I’ve learnt so much from them! I have a question and I hope it’s ok to ask this here…
    I’m new to polymer clay and created some (rather) flat pendants and earrings. I’ve sanded and buffed them by hand. They are smooth but the colors keep looking dull. If I put water on them, the colors get much richer. I can’t get my hands on either minwax or renaissance so tried some 100% bees wax but this was quite runny and wouldn’t dry. It would just wipe off again. Wondering now whether a beeswax paste (plus dremel maybe) would do the trick or will I have to varnish them…. Any insight? Thank you in advance, it’s much appreciated.

  48. Cindy Lietz, 11 September, 2020

    Hi Marlies, what grits of sandpaper are you using?

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