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Does Polycrylic Yellow? (All You Need to Know)

If your furniture has white paint and you want it to protect for a long time, the coating might be a good option for you. But can you use all kinds of coating?

Although polycrylic is overly used to protect furniture and wood surfaces, can you use it on white paint? And you must want to know if polycrylic turns yellow!

Let’s find the answers below.

Does polycrylic yellow?

Polycrylic turns yellow. When applied to white coatings, it immediately turns yellow. Mainly oil-based polyacrylic finishes are most likely to turn yellow. This type of polycrylic gives a yellow tint to paints, precisely on lighter colors. In contrast, water-based polycrylic does not turn yellow.

As a top coating, polycrylic is very popular. But protecting white furniture with a polycrylic finish can be tricky as polycrylic are more likely to turn yellow. Polycrylic can turn yellow for various reasons. Oil-based polycrylic is predominately responsible for turning yellow. 

Besides, other factors affect polycrylic turning yellow, and it can vary on different situations and reasons.

On white paint: 

Oil-based polycrylic can turn yellow on white paint. Usually, when oil-based polycrylic is applied on a surface painted white, it immediately starts reacting and creating a yellow color or amber hue on the surface. But water-based polycrylic can eradicate this problem.

Over time: 

When polycrylic are applied as a top coating, many polycrylic finishes, especially oil-based polycrylic, start turning yellow. Although white color has this innate attribute of turning to yellowish color after a certain period, polycrylic is also responsible.

In the sun: 

Different types of polycrylic can turn surfaces yellow if a surface is exposed to the sun for an extended period. The UV rays from sunlight can change the yellow color into a darker tint and give an orangish stain.

On chalk paint: 

Applying polycrylic over white chalk paint can turn yellow immediately. Oil-based polycrylic can create an amber tint on white chalk paint. Even if the polycrylic sprayed is off a very small amount, the yellow stains can be visible without effort.

Intelligent use of polycrylic can prevent it from turning yellow and must be adopted to protect your furniture.

Does polycrylic dry yellow?

Protecting wooden furniture and giving it a shine requires polishing and, polycrylic is a good option for many. While polycrylic is a white coating for the furniture. But in the long run, when polycrylic dries, it can turn yellow after a period.

Polycrylic comes in two variants. One is water-based; another is oil-based.

Oil-based polycrylic can be found in aerosol spray polycrylic that is almost easily found. Using this type of polycrylic is much easier in process and can be done without professional help. But also, after a period when this oil-based polycrylic dries, it starts turning yellow.

On the other hand, water-based polycrylic is difficult to apply. And sometimes, it may require professional expertise. Although this type of polycrylic takes a longer time to dry on furniture, it is true that polycrylic of this kind does not turn yellow quickly.

Does minwax water based polycrylic yellow? What is the best non yellowing polycrylic?

Minwax water-based polycrylic is best to apply on furniture and wooden products coated with lighter paints such as white o off-white. Minwax water-based polycrylic does not turn yellow after applying to a white coating, and there is no change of color immediately.

These polycrylic finishes remain unchanged and protect the paints rather than turning yellow even after a long time. Many people prefer Minwax water-based polycrylic yellow because of its non-yellowing attribute.

Oil-based polycrylic can be found in aerosol form and easily applied without outside help. But this easy-to-use polycrylic is not people’s favorite due to its trait to turn yellow.

Water-based polycrylic allows the paint to remain in its innate color and not turn yellow. Thus, we can conclude that water-based polycrylic is the best non-yellowing polycrylic.

Why is my polycrylic turning yellow?

Using polycrylic can be an intelligent step to coat your fine paints and protect your furniture. But polycrylic comes with new sets of problems of turning yellow on its own. There are several reasons why polycrylic turns yellow.

From chemical reaction to the duration and process of coating, here are the reasons your polycrylic finish might turn yellow as follows-


Oxidation is the root cause of why polycrylic turns yellow. Oxidation is when natural coating comes across oxygen, reacts with it, loses electrons. All oil-based polycrylic undergoes the same process for turning yellow. 

If the yellowing process happens due to the absence of light, it can be reversed easily. However, ammonia can also cause oxidation.


The UV rays in sunlight can cause acute yellowing of polycrylic. If your polycrylic finished furniture is exposed to harsh sunlight, it may turn yellow soon. This can be reversed by placing them in an indirect light position.

Process of applying polycrylic:

If applied with an aerosol it is easier but if applied in thick consistency; it can turn yellow soon. 

When applying the polycrylic, a thin layer should be maintained. And another layer of polycrylic should be applied when the previous layer has dried.

Oil attracts dust:

Unlike water-based polycrylic, oil-based polycrylic has a shiny finish, and also it can attract specks of dust and turn the surface yellow over time. This might be a reason why people prefer water-based polycrylic over oil-based ones.

How to fix yellow polycrylic?

Nobody likes a yellowed surface due to the use of polycrylic. But unfortunately, surfaces turn yellow over time, and even immediately as oil-based polycrylic are responsible for that. But when your furniture has turned yellow, you must fix it.

A polycrylic can turn yellow immediately after being applied to white paint. For that, you should wipe the polycrylic with vinegar water mix without any delay.

Here are some solutions you can try to fix your problem

For overall but mild yellow:

One easy way to remove yellow stains from a larger area is to grit it with sandpaper. You can use 20-grit sandpaper for sanding the top layer. And then recoat in a thin layer. 

It is suitable for mild stains and no spots. Unlikely your furniture will turn yellow anytime soon.

For small surface but tough yellow stains:

But grinding might not be the best idea if your furniture has earned some tough stains in different spots. For that, you can follow-

  • Make a paste by mixing half a cup of baking soda in a quarter cup of water
  • Use a sponge, toothbrush or nylon-bristled scrub to brush
  • Scrub the paste on the yellowed spots gently until the stains are gone
  • Wipe the paste with a damp cloth or sponge
  • Let your clean surface dry

Polycrylic isn’t permanent, can be fixed with a careful decision. But you must consider using good quality water-based polycrylic to recoating the surfaces not to turn yellow.

How to keep polycrylic from yellowing?

Polycrylic adds a protective layer on wooden furniture, which all prefer. Although polycrylic is a popular finish type, users regret it most when their favorite piece of furniture starts turning yellow.

As a top coating, polycrylic might be people’s favorite, but if it turns yellow over time, nobody would like to use a layer that, instead of protecting their paint, ruins the color.

To keep polycrylic finishes from turning yellow, there are many solutions. Some of them are shared as follows-

Use the non-yellowing polycrylic:

You can find two types of polycrylic in the market. One is oil-based, and another is water-based. Oil-based polycrylic is a cheaper option, and they are unquestionably responsible for turning yellow. 

If applied to white paint, it starts turning yellow immediately, and when it dries, it turns ember over time.

On the contrary, water-based polycrylic is non-reactive to white coatings, and this polycrylic does not turn yellow. So, if you apply such polycrylic, it is more likely not to turn yellow.

The Vinegar-water solution:

As polycrylic can immediately turn yellow or amber hue, an easy kitchen solution can help you keep your polycrylic finish from turning yellow.

Take 1 part vinegar, mix it with ten parts water, and pour it into a spray bottle. When your polycrylic finish starts drying and forms a tacky translucent thickness, apply the vinegar-water mixture and wipe out the excess. 

This will protect your polycrylic finish from yellowing.

Final Thoughts

Among the two types of polycrylic- water-based polycrylic and oil-based polycrylic- the latter is more likely to turn yellow over time. Even oil-based polycrylic can turn a yellow or amber hue immediately after being applied to a lighter coating. Water-based polycrylic is safe from turning yellow.