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Caring for Cornhole Boards: Applying Poly and Clear Coat

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Selecting a Clear Coat

Clear coat does exactly what the name states: creates a clear cover that protects whatever design is underneath. Polyurethane, commonly referred to as just poly, is the clear coat of choice when caring for cornhole boards.

Aficionados differ in opinion about the best clear coat to use, but most common brands all function the same. Check at your local home goods store; the sales staff might be able to direct you to their favorite brand of poly.

Whichever brand you choose, be sure the poly is water-based. Water-based poly tends to yellow less over time. Yellowing or cloudiness that occurs immediately upon application tends to disappear once the poly has set.

Also, most cornhole board designers prefer semi-gloss poly because regular gloss poly can be extremely shiny and too slick for cornhole bags to stay on the board during game play.

Steps for Applying Clear Coat

Once you have selected your clear coat, it is time to begin preparing for the actual application process. Follow these steps to get the best clear coat possible:

1.Make sure your work space is as clean and dust-free as possible. Floating hair, lint, and dust particles that settle on your board during the clear coat application process will be permanently sealed in your board.

2.Lay down a tarp to protect whatever surface you are working on. Garages, spare bedrooms, or a traffic-free corner of a living room can make good work spaces.

3.Make sure your cornhole boards are clean and free of particles and debris before applying your first coat of poly.

4.Follow the directions on your can of poly. Poly is not paint, so do NOT shake the can as this will result in lots of little bubbles.

5.Use a foam brush to apply every coat of poly. Never use a roller to apply poly as rollers also create lots of little bubbles. If your foam brush is too wide to fit in the can, feel free to cut it down to size so that you do not need to transfer the poly to another container.

6.Getting a clear, even coat takes time, so DO NOT RUSH the process. Most people do five to ten coats of poly, and it is best to wait a few hours between applications.

7.To help your coats dry faster and keep ventilation circulating, you can use an oscillating fan set on low speed. However, it is best to wait for 20 minutes after the coat has been applied before turning the fan on as the air movement on wet poly can create bubbles.

8.To protect your foam brush, you can wrap it in aluminum foil and place it in an air-tight container. This will allow you to reuse the same brush for each coat of poly.

9.After you have applied all but the last coat, it is a good idea to gently sand the surface of your boards. Gentle is a key word here. Use a fine sand paper (320 grit or higher) to smooth the surface of your boards. Try to avoid sanding over any decals.

10.Clean your board of dust after sanding and apply the final coat of poly. Allow to dry for 72 hours before playing your first round of cornhole. If your gloss feels somewhat sticky to the touch even after it has dried for this time, a dusting of cornstarch will take the stickiness away.

11.Don’t forget to apply poly to the sides and legs of your board. Many people do fewer layers, only two or three coats, in these areas.

Remember: do not rush! Have patience when applying your poly clear coat. Going too fast can create bubbles, cloudiness, and cracked under-layers. Take your time and your smooth, glossy boards will be worth it.