What’s the Best Polyurethane for Furniture?
Applying a polyurethane finish to your painted or wood furniture is a great way to protect it from scratches, stains, and other damage. But what’s the best polyurethane for furniture?
With so many different types of polyurethane on the market, it can be hard to know which one is right for your project. Learn more about Furniture Painting Tools And Supplies here!
Polyurethane is a clear finish that is applied to painted and wood furniture to protect it from scratches, wear, and tear. It can also enhance the appearance of the finish by giving it a glossy sheen.
In this blog post, we’ll give you a quick overview of three of the best polyurethane so you can choose the best option for your needs.
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Best Wipe-On Polyurethane
Minwax Wipe-On Polyurethane
Wipe-on polyurethane is ideal for small projects, tabletops, or flat furniture
Minwax Wipe-On Oil Based Polyurethane is our top pick for wipe-on polyurethane because it’s easy to apply and provides a brush free finish.
- It’s very durable and protects against scratches and dings
- It’s also moisture-resistant for a long-lasting finish
- Oil-based polyurethane is also more durable for outdoor furniture
- Since it’s oil-based, it’s best to use over wood or dark colored paint
- Oil-based polyurethane has an amber color to it and will turn your light colored paint yellow.
- It also has a strong odor
- And wipe on polyurethane can look streaky if you don’t apply it just right
I used Minwax Wipe-On Polyurethane on the dining table makeover here in this How to Strip a Kitchen Table post.
Where To Buy Minwax Wipe-On Polyurethane
- Amazon: Order Wipe-On Polyurethane HERE
Best Spray Polyurethane
Minwax Polycrylic in a Spray Can
Spray polyurethane is one of the easiest types of polyurethane to apply, and it’s a great option if you’re working on a smaller project or if you’re new to using polyurethane.
It’s also perfect if you don’t want any streaks or brush marks in the finish.
- Minwax is the best spray can version of polyurethane
- It’s easy to use and provides excellent protection against scratches and stains
- It’s water-based as well and creates a perfect looking finish
- Comes in an oil-based finish as well if needed.
- It is more expensive than regular polyurethane in a can
So if you are spraying a large project or if you are redoing furniture a lot, it might be cheaper, in the end, to invest in a paint sprayer to spray polyurethane.
Here are the best HVLP paint sprayers that are awesome at spraying polyurethane.
See Minwax Polycrylic in action in this Waverly Chalk Paint Review where we did a sofa table makeover.
Learn more about the difference between polycrylic vs polyurethane here.
Where To Buy Minwax Polycrylic in a Spray Can
- Amazon: Order the Minwax Polycrylic in a Spray Can HERE
Best Water-Based Polyurethane for Furniture
Varathane Water-Based Polyurethane
Varathane Water-based polyurethane is another popular option (and my personal favorite) for protecting painted or wood furniture.
This type of poly is rising in popularity because it doesn’t have the strong fumes associated with oil-based polys.
Water-based polyurethanes give off little to no odor. This makes them a great choice for indoor projects!
- Can apply it with a brush, foam sponge, or sprayer
- Little to no odor (perfect for indoor projects!)
- This product provides a durable, long lasting finish
- It is moisture resistant
- Can be used over wood and paint without yellowing
- I’m trying hard to think of the cons, and I really can’t think of anything
See Varathane Water-based polyurethane in action on most of my posts, but specifically, this How to Paint a Dresser White makeover.
Where To Buy Varathane Water-Based Polyurethane
- Amazon: Order the best water-based polyurethane HERE
- Home Depot: Buy Varathane Water-based Polyurethane online and pickup in store (or ship to your home)
No matter how you want to apply polyurethane to furniture, there’s a perfect type of polyurethane out there for you!
All three of these polyurethanes will provide scratch and stain resistance, but each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Best Way to Apply Polyurethane
The best way to apply polyurethane by hand and avoid streaks is by using a foam sponge. You can find these at most hardware stores or online on Amazon.
The next best streak free method is to spray the polyurethane on with either a spray can or a paint sprayer.
You can also brush the water based polyurethane on, but it most likely won’t create a perfect finish.
Darker colors are harder to topcoat with polyurethane than light colors, because light colors hide streaks and brush marks better than dark colors do.
If you are topcoating paint, add some of the waterbased paint to your waterbased polyurethane to tint the polyurethane and help prevent streaks from showing as much.
Either way, apply the polyurethane in even, long strokes across the furniture.
Don’t go back over the polyurethane once you’ve applied it. Polyurethane dries quickly, so if you go back over it, more streaks will be created.
Check out How to Apply Polycrylic to Painted Furniture here.
Get more tips about applying polyurethane in my Topcoats for Painting Furniture post.
Best Brush for Water Based Polyurethane
If you want to brush water based polyurethane onto furniture, the best brush is this Zibra topcoat brush that’s made specifically for topcoating with polyurethane.
Best Paint Sprayer for Polyurethane
My favorite entry-level paint sprayer for polyurethane is either the Wagner Double Duty, or the Wagner FLEXiO 3000.
The Wagner FEXiO 3500 is the new model of the FLEXiO 3000.
Here’s How to Use a Wagner Double Duty Paint Sprayer and How to Use the FLEXiO 3000.
The Wagner Double Duty paint sprayer sprays polyurethane really well and is cheaper.
But if you are planning on spraying paint with the paint sprayer too, I would suggest the Wagner FLEXiO 3500 (or even the Wagner FLEXiO 5000) because they spray thick paints easier.
Learn more about the Best Wagner Paint Sprayers for Furniture here and check out this post on spraying polyurethane for all of my tips.
More Painting Furniture Resources
- Painting Furniture Black – No Topcoat!
- Paint Furniture Black – Everything You Need to Know (including the best way to topcoat dark colors)
- How to Paint Furniture Matte Black
- Types of Paint for Furniture
- Wax VS Polyurethane
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