What is the Best Finish for Cornhole Boards? (2024)

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If you want to make your cornhole board extra sturdy, getting the right wood finish is key. If you apply an unsuitable finish, it won’t properly coat and protect your cornhole board’s surface from external elements, resulting in the wood fading or warping.

Here, I will share with you the best finish for cornhole boards to protect and extend their lifespan.

Premium Option
General Finishes High-Performance Water Based Topcoat, 1 Quart, Semi-Gloss
Editor’s Choice
1 qt Minwax 64444 Clear Polycrylic Water-Based Protective Finish Semi-Gloss
Budget Option
Aleene's 26412 Spray Gloss Finish, 6 Oz Acrylic Sealer, Original Version
General Finishes High-Performance Water Based Topcoat, 1 Quart, Semi-Gloss
1 qt Minwax 64444 Clear Polycrylic Water-Based Protective Finish Semi-Gloss
Aleene's 26412 Spray Gloss Finish, 6 Oz Acrylic Sealer, Original Version
• Super simple to use
• Eliminates streaks
• Reliable use
• Clean up quickly with water and soap
• Little upkeep is necessary
• Simple to use
• Lasts very long
• Quickly cleans
• No yellow hue
• Lacks a noticeable odor
• Protects the wood's organic features
• Easy to use
• Fast-drying
• It leaves a slick surface.
• Excellent for internal and exterior applications
• Offers waterproof defense
Premium Option
General Finishes High-Performance Water Based Topcoat, 1 Quart, Semi-Gloss
General Finishes High-Performance Water Based Topcoat, 1 Quart, Semi-Gloss
• Super simple to use
• Eliminates streaks
• Reliable use
• Clean up quickly with water and soap
• Little upkeep is necessary
Editor’s Choice
1 qt Minwax 64444 Clear Polycrylic Water-Based Protective Finish Semi-Gloss
1 qt Minwax 64444 Clear Polycrylic Water-Based Protective Finish Semi-Gloss
• Simple to use
• Lasts very long
• Quickly cleans
• No yellow hue
• Lacks a noticeable odor
• Protects the wood's organic features
Budget Option
Aleene's 26412 Spray Gloss Finish, 6 Oz Acrylic Sealer, Original Version
Aleene's 26412 Spray Gloss Finish, 6 Oz Acrylic Sealer, Original Version
• Easy to use
• Fast-drying
• It leaves a slick surface.
• Excellent for internal and exterior applications
• Offers waterproof defense

Reviews of the Top Finishes for Cornhole Boards

1. Minwax 64444 Clear Polycrylic Water-Based Protective Finish

If you’re like me and enjoy a good game of cornhole, keeping your boards in tip-top shape is crucial. That’s where something like Minwax 64444 comes in handy. It’s a water-based formula, so it dries quickly. What I appreciate is how it allows the wood’s natural character to show through. It’s compatible with both Water-Based and Minnwax Oil-Based stains, which gives you a bit of flexibility.

The recoating process is straightforward, with a short 2-hour interval between applications and effortless clean-up using only water and soap. Maintaining a low-odor profile, this Minwax does not compromise on quality. There are no unsightly yellowish hues, and applying thin, light coats with a suitable brush ensures a flawless, hardened finish devoid of any stickiness.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

2. General Finishes High-Performance Water-Based Topcoat

This General Finishes High-Performance Water-Based Topcoat offers an exceptional polyacrylic blend that’s great for more challenging conditions. I’ve found it to be quite durable, and it even offers some UV protection, which is a nice perk for outdoor games.

Its application process is uncomplicated and worry-free, posing no risk for users. The topcoat delivers a seamless, stroke-free finish while requiring only soap and water for easy clean-up. Impressively resistant to daily wear, this topcoat requires minimal care for a long-lasting cornhole board. 

Its quick-drying properties enable prompt additional coats, ensuring efficient usage. This spray-on works perfectly with an LVLP gun and compact cylinder. Softwoods like pine can also be transformed. For a natural look, I recommend using a sponge applicator/brush.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

3. Aleene’s 26412 Spray Gloss Finish

This Aleene’s 26412 Spray Gloss Finish is a durable and adaptable solution for different projects. I’ve used it for both indoor and outdoor projects, and it’s impressively straightforward to apply. It is easy to apply, just needing a simple shake of the can and direct application onto cornhole boards or your desired surface. 

Its quick-drying nature eliminates any unsightly goops or runs, making the whole process efficient. Additionally, alowing an hour between coats has given me solid protection for up to three years, which isn’t something to sneeze at.

It effectively seals away airborne particles such as hair, dirt, and dust, maintaining a pristine surface with a smooth feel. Its adaptability extends to painted or unfinished wood, decals, and artwork, offering a versatile solution for various areas.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

4. Rust-Oleum 302736 Triple Thick Polyurethane, Matte

This Rust-Oleum 302736 is a great matte finish for your cornhole board. Its distinctive composition is thrice as dense as conventional options, ensuring flawless, even coverage in one application. 

What really sells it for me is its resistance to scratches and stains, along with the added UV protection. It also dries quickly and is easy to clean up. I’ve also used it to spruce up furniture and doors, and it’s consistent in filling in wood grains for a seamless look. 

As more layers are applied, the outcome becomes sleeker. But honestly, even with one coat, this easy-to-use, air bubble-free solution has provided impressive results already.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

5. TotalBoat 486490 Lust Marine Varnish, High Gloss, and Matte Finish for Wood

The TotalBoat 486490 finish has been a reliable choice for me when it comes to durable finishes. While primarily geared toward marine applications like brightwork and trim, I’ve had excellent results using it on cornhole boards. The rapid drying time combined with its tough, glossy finish ensures that your painted surfaces consistently display that rejuvenating, wet appearance. 

If you’re after maximum shine and protection, be prepared to invest some time; 6 to 8 coats will do the job well. Moreover, if you prefer a more understated and refined aesthetic, the satin matte option is an excellent choice.

Applying this varnish is straightforward—just grab a natural-fiber brush and you’re good to go. I’ve found its formula durable enough to hold up against harsh weather, negating the need for mid-project sanding.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

6. Rust-Oleum 200241H Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane

If you prefer to simplify cornhole board maintenance, this Rust-Oleum 200241H transparent water-based polyurethane may be your best bet. You can achieve the convenience of a clutter-free clean-up and an even application.

What sets it apart for me is how it dries: clear with no yellowing or fracturing, something not all polyurethanes can boast. The low VOC formula also means it’s safer for indoor use, and I feel better knowing it’s a safe choice around kids and pets.

Drying time is speedy, and you’re left with a refined satin finish. The straightforward instructions make this an easy pick for anyone, regardless of skill level.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

7. SEAL-ONCE Nano+Poly Penetrating Wood Sealer with Polyurethane

SEAL-ONCE Nano+Poly Penetrating Wood Sealer with Polyurethane is one of the best finishes for cornhole boards used in marine environments. It has optimal shielding against severe external elements and managed to keep its boards looking new for an extended period. 

Being an enthusiast of cornhole, I appreciated the advanced sealer that employed nanotechnology to safeguard wooden surfaces from mildew, rot, and UV impairment in humid coastal areas. 

The product penetrates deep into the wood on a cellular level, which retains its ability to breathe and adapt to fluctuating conditions. In my experience, it’s a reliable option for enduring protection.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

8. Seymour Paint 620-1525 Insulating Varnish

After testing this cost-effective insulating finish, it becomes clear that Seymour offers good protection for cornhole boards against moisture, oil, and strong chemicals. 

The Seymour Paint 620-1525 is perfectly suited for Class F winding and electrical equipment, this finish boasts quick-drying capabilities and crack resistance while reducing current leakage. Its performance excels beyond more expensive counterparts, providing great value without compromising on quality. 

The impressive insulating paint’s coverage is another standout feature, as it requires only a minimal amount to yield significant results. Using this finish gives me peace of mind, knowing my cornhole board is well-protected from potential damage.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

9. Roxil Wood Protection Cream Instant Waterproofing Clear Treatment

The Roxil Wood Protection Cream provides exceptional protection from moisture and UV rays. Just a single application is enough to safeguard the boards for an extended time. The innovative cream formula allows for a clean and precise application while minimizing mess. 

Before applying the Roxil, I found that using an antimicrobial wood cleaning agent on the board significantly improved the results. As someone who values eco-friendly options, the odorless and water-resistant nature of this cream was an added bonus. I used an artificial fiber brush and found the application process incredibly straightforward, even on different wood surfaces like redwood fences.

In addition to its protective benefits, the finish enhances the wood’s natural color, providing a rich appearance without any glossiness.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

What’s a Cornhole Board Finish?

When I first invested in a cornhole board, I soon realized it was more than just a backyard game—it was a functional piece of art that I wanted to last. I can’t stress enough how crucial it is to pick the right finish, such as a polyurethane or clear coat, which offers protection against various environmental factors. 

These finishes play a critical role in shielding your boards from harsh weather conditions, including rain and snow, which can cause damage and deterioration over time.

Furthermore, a quality finish will provide resistance against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can not only fade and discolor the wood but also promote mold and mildew growth. 

Mold and mildew can compromise the structural integrity and appearance of your cornhole boards. I make sure to go for a finish that boasts strong UV resistance to keep those boards looking fresh.

When selecting the appropriate finish, consider factors such as durability, ease of application, and compatibility with the materials used in your cornhole boards. 

Additionally, regular maintenance, such as cleaning and periodic reapplication of the finish, will further prolong the lifespan and maintain the appearance of your investment. 

By taking these precautions, you can ensure that your cornhole boards remain in excellent condition and continue to provide enjoyment for years to come.

Finish for Cornhole Boards Buyer’s Guide

Type of Finish

You can upgrade your cornhole boards with suitable finishes like polyurethane or polycrylic. I recommend opting for oil-based polyurethane for a yellowish hue or water-based poly for a crystal-clear coat. 

Go for polycrylic if you desire a glossy finish on lighter wood like maple or birch and to hide decals or paint. Water-based solutions offer quicker drying times than oil-based ones. 

Color

When selecting a finish for your cornhole boards, there are two primary options to consider: the warm amber radiance of oil-based polyurethane or the pristine, crystal-clear appearance of water-based polyurethane. 

See Also: Best Finish for a Walnut Table 

Each type of finish offers its unique benefits and aesthetic appeal. Oil-based polyurethane is known for its rich color and natural glow, enhancing the wood grain and providing a traditional look. It also offers a more durable surface, making it well-suited for outdoor use. 

On the other hand, water-based polyurethane is revered for its clear, non-yellowing finish that allows the true color of the wood to shine through. It dries faster, has lower volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, and is easier to clean up, making it an eco-friendlier option. 

Ultimately, the choice between the two finishes will depend on your personal preferences and the specific requirements of your cornhole board project.

Ease of Application

The ease of applying poly finishes with options ranges from spray cans to creams. For beginners, opt for user-friendly clear coats, and consider factors such as application method, consistency to prevent dripping, drying time, and water cleanup availability.

Finishing Cornhole Boards in 8 Easy Steps

Once you apply the best finishes on your cornhole boards, these boards can now withstand humidity [1], weather, and sunlight. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered on how to expertly finish your masterpiece to enjoy endless cornhole matches.

Step #1: Cover the Floor and Clean the Board Surface

Before you start crafting cornhole boards, make sure to clear an area fitting for the project. A roomy space or garage will do well. Just ensure it is spotless and has a tarp on the flooring to guard against messy spills!

preparing work area

Step #2: Make Sure Cornhole Boards are Dust-Free

Get ready for a flawless cornhole board finish by giving those panels a thorough cleaning! Make sure every speck of dirt, grime, and tiny wood particle is banished to avoid any hiccups during the finishing process and achieve top-notch results.

Step #3: Coat the Surface With Sanding Sealer

For an enhanced cornhole board, consider several layers of sanding sealer before the final coat.

Step #4: Avoid Mixing Your Poly

To ensure a flawless poly finish, skip the shake! It’ll only create air bubbles that can spoil your project.

Step #5: Coat the Surface With Poly Using a Foam Brush

The secret to a flawless cornhole board finish: a 3-inch foam brush! Avoid rolling brushes as they cause pesky air bubbles. Enjoy a smooth, uniform poly coat every time.

Step #6: Apply Multiple Coats of Polyurethane

To achieve maximum durability and protection for your cornhole boards, patience and even the application of polyurethane is key. Generally, applying between five to ten coats should do the trick, but remember, there are no strict rules.

Step #7: Let the Poly Dry Between Coats

The drying time for polyurethane depends on its variety and humidity levels. To avoid issues, wait a minimum of two hours before recoating. 

Test dryness by swiping your finger across the surface – if no residue sticks, proceed with another coat. To expedite drying, introduce a fan approximately 20 minutes after application.

Step #8: Light Sand Between Coats

To achieve a flawless finish, gently sand between coats with 220-300 grit paper, clearing any debris. Once the final coat is applied, wait a minimum of three days to ensure your boards are ready for use.

How Can You Seal Cornhole Boards?

Shield your cornhole boards from moisture and sun damage with a trusty sealant. Choose between the sturdy, long-lasting polyurethane or the fast-drying, budget-friendly polycrylic finish. Ensure your boards remain stylish, as polyurethane may develop a yellow hue over time.

staining cornhole board

How to Make Cornboard Holes Slick?

Ensure your boards are slick for reduced friction. Store-bought boards come ready for action, but DIY versions can be enhanced with 320+ grit sandpaper and multiple coats of polyurethane or polycrylic finishes.

More finishing guides here

FAQ

What type of finish is used on ACL boards?

ACL Boards are coated in a swift-drying, water-based polycrylic finish that not only safeguards your board but also adds varying degrees of slickness. With a glossy touch and speedy two-hour drying time, this remarkable polycrylic finish is sure to keep your decals, paint, and artistic touches in pristine condition. 

My Top Pick For a Finish for Cornhole Boards: 1 qt Minwax 64444 Clear Polycrylic

I choose the Minwax 64444 Clear Polycrylic as the best finish for cornhole boards. It excels due to its ease of application, effective performance, and reasonable price point—all while delivering remarkably slick results. 

Its superior qualities make it the ideal choice for those seeking a durable and visually appealing finish, ensuring an enhanced cornhole gaming experience for all.  

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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