water based vs. oil based
A couple years ago I put a red oak banister in my living room going upstairs to the bedrooms. I finished it with water based polyurathane. I am about to install a second banister in the same room going down the stairs into my foyer. I’d rather use oil based poly because since installing the first one I have discovered that I like the way the oil based finish looks and feels. I also want them to match. Therefore, my question is, is it possible to sand the water based finish off of the first banister and refinish it with oil based poly and have it look the same as the brand new one finished in oil based poly I am getting ready to install?
An approriate liquid stripper of some sort might make the job go faster, but assuming you are prepared to do a lot of careful, not to mention rather tedious and dusty, sanding of the nooks and crannies, it should work out fine.
My understanding is that the only way to remove cured poly is mechanically. Strippers don't work.
John O'Connell - JKO Handcrafted Woodworking
The more things change ...
We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.
Petronious Arbiter, 210 BC
Strippers work OK on conventional poly , and fairly easily on most waterborne poly. Now two part polyurethane may be a different story.
I've not done it, but I'm aware of products that advertise themselves as being able to remove it like:
You can strip the existing with a stripper containing methylene chloride. You will also have to do some sanding.
However, if you now use the same finish for both there is a good chance that they will be somewhat to greatly different in appearence. The reason is that wood from different trees rarely looks the same unless carefully chosen. Second, the existing wood will have undergone some years of aging which also changes the color wood.
Get enough bannister material that you can test the finish you plan to use to see how close it is. You may have to use a stain if you want it real close.
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