Polycrylic Vs Polyurethane: Which is the Best?

Are you looking to update your furniture or cabinets but don’t know which topcoat to use? Polycrylic vs Polyurethane are two popular options that can help you achieve the look you desire. But what is the difference between Polycrylic and Polyurethane, and which one is best for your project?

In this blog post, we will explore the differences between these two topcoats, and the pros and cons of each, so that you can make an informed decision about which product will give your furniture a better result. We’ll also discuss some tips on how to use each product correctly so that you get great results when painting furniture.

varathane waterbased polyurethane and minwax oil based polyurethane

When you’re looking to update your furniture by either refinishing it or painting it, usually the topic of topcoating or sealing comes up!

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Polycrylic and polyurethane are two of the most popular topcoats for furniture.

They both offer a protective finish that can help protect your furniture from scratches, stains, and wear.

Polycrylic provides a durable finish that doesn’t yellow like some other finishes do. It’s also easy to apply and clean up with just soap and water.

On the other hand, polyurethane offers superior protection against moisture damage while still providing a beautiful finish.

But which one is best for you?

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What is the difference between polycrylic and polyurethane?

Polycrylic (water-based polyurethane) and polyurethane (oil-based polyurethane) are two popular topcoats used to protect furniture, cabinets and other surfaces.

Although they both offer a protective finish, there are some key differences between the two that should be taken into consideration when making your choice.

The main difference between the two is that polycrylic is a water-based product that offers a durable finish without yellowing over time while polyurethane is an oil-based product that provides superior protection against moisture damage, indoors and outdoors.

Both products have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to understand the difference and their pros and cons before you make your decision.

Polycrylic (WaterBased Polyurethane)

Polycrylic (also known as water-based polyurethane) is a water-based topcoat that provides a durable finish without yellowing over time.

can of varathane waterbased polyurethane

It offers superior protection against scratches, stains, and wear on furniture, cabinets, and other surfaces.

Polycrylic has a fast drying time and can be applied with a brush, sprayer, or even in aerosol, spray can form for easy application.

Plus it’s non-flammable and cleanup is simple with soap and water.

However, it does have some drawbacks such as not being suitable for exterior projects or how it can be difficult to achieve a perfect streak-free finish when applying it by hand.

Despite these cons, polycrylic remains an excellent choice for protecting your furniture from damage while still providing beautiful results.

Pros:

  • Available in Matte, Gloss, Satin and Semi-Gloss finishes
  • Can be applied with a brush, sprayer, or aerosol spray can
  • Fast drying – recoat in 2 hours
  • Non-flammable
  • Easy cleanup with soap and water
  • Clear topcoat with no yellowing
  • Can be used on painted, stained or raw wood

Cons:

  • Not suitable for exterior projects
  • Can be tricky to get a perfect streak free finish when applying it by hand
  • Is not as durable as oil-based polyurethane

Where to Buy Polycrylic

  • Home Depot (Order online, pickup in-store or ship to home)
  • Amazon (Ship to home)
  • Ace Hardware (Order online, pickup in-store or ship to home)
  • Walmart (Order online, pickup in-store or ship to home)

Tips for Using Polycyrlic

Applying a topcoat of polycrylic to painted furniture adds an extra layer of protection and helps maintain its beauty for years to come.

But if you’re not familiar with the process, it can be intimidating. Fortunately, with the right tips and tricks it will turn out great!

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Here are some helpful tips for using polycrylic on your painted or stained furniture:

  • Make sure the surface is clean and free of dirt, dust, and other debris.
  • Always use a clean brush or foam sponge when applying polycrylic – old tools may contain dirt particles that could mar the finish and leave unwanted specks behind.
  • Make sure to apply thin coats of polycrylic in order to get a smooth finish without drips or runs.
  • Allow each coat of polycrylic to dry completely before adding another coat.
  • For more detailed instructions on how to apply Polycrylic, check out my blog post which covers everything you need to know, and secret tips to make it look perfect!

Varathane 200241H Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane, Quart, Satin FinishCheck Price

 

Polyurethane (Oil Based Polyurethane)

Polyurethane is an oil-based finish that is used to protect wood surfaces.

tin of minwax wipe on poly and spray can of minwax polyurethane

It offers superior protection against scratches, stains, and wear on furniture, cabinets, and other surfaces.

Polyurethane has a strong odor but provides a durable finish. It can be applied with a brush, sprayer, or aerosol spray can for easy application, but cleanup isn’t as simple with mineral spirits.

It is flammable, so extra care must be taken and it can also be tricky to get a perfectly streak-free finish when applying it by hand, meaning that professional results may require spraying or other advanced techniques.

Here are all of the pros and cons for polyurethane.

Pros:

  • Available in Matte, Gloss, Satin and Semi-Gloss
  • Can be applied with a brush, sprayer, or a spray can
  • More durable than waterbased polyurethane or polycrylic
  • Can be used to protect outdoor projects and indoor projects
  • Creates a less streaky finish on really dark paint colors than polycrylic does

Cons:

  • Flammable
  • Can be tricky to get a perfect streak free finish when applying by hand
  • Dry to the touch after 1-2 hours, recoat time is 4-6 hours
  • Cleanup with mineral spirits (not as easy to clean up)
  • Best for wood or dark colored finishes
  • Has a strong odor

Learn more about the features and how-to’s of Minwax polyurethane spray here.

Where to Buy Polyurethane

  • Home Depot (Order online, pickup in-store or ship to home)
  • Amazon (Ship to home)
  • Ace Hardware (Order online, pickup in-store or ship to home)
  • Walmart (Order online, pickup in-store or ship to home)

Tips for Using Polyurethane

When using polyurethane, it is important to take the proper precautions and use the right techniques to ensure that you get the best results.

Here are some tips for using this oil-based finish:

  • Wear protective gear when working with polyurethane to protect yourself from fumes.
  • Make sure the surface is clean and free of dirt, dust, and other debris.
  • Use a high-quality brush or applicator to apply the polyurethane evenly and smoothly on the surface. Here’s oil based polyurethane spray for more details about spraying this type of polyurethane.
  • Allow each coat to dry completely before applying an additional coat for maximum durability.
  • Clean up any spills or drips with mineral spirits immediately.
  • Store unused cans of polyurethane in an area away from heat and direct sunlight.
  • Lay rags and tools that have oil based polyurethane on them outside and flat while they dry to prevent them from catching fire in your workspace

Minwax 40910000 Wipe-On Poly, Pint, Satin, Package may varyCheck Price

 

Which is better polyurethane or polycrylic?

It really depends on what you are using it for. Polyurethane is more durable, has a stronger odor, and takes longer to dry.

However, polycrylic is easier to clean up with water-based cleaners, and has a much lower VOC content compared to polyurethane.

Even though polyurethane is more durable, polycrylic is very durable and durable enough for most furniture projects.

Ultimately the choice comes down to personal preference or application requirements.

In conclusion, both polyurethane and polycrylic are great finishes for protecting wood and painted surfaces.

Ultimately when deciding between these two products you should consider what you need out of a topcoat as well as personal preference before making the best choice for your project.

Learn more about the Best Polyurethane for Furniture here. Check out this post about the best spray for polyurethane for more information.

Check out the best paint brushes for polyurethane here.

More Resources:

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