Difference Between Polycrylic and Polyurethane

There are two main chemical products which are used in the finishing of the wood. They are Polycrylic and Polyurethane. Both of these products are used in fishing the wood since they add a touch of color and protection as well.

Well, although both chemical products are essential, there is always confusion when it comes to the selection of the two. Keep in mind that both of them have their pros and cons when used on the wood. They may serve the needed purpose and that is to protect the wood, but they do it differently.

The first thing you need to know is the difference between the two products based on their effects, and from there, you will be able to choose the most suitable product to use. Also, the kind of wood you are coating may also help you to select the best chemical since the woods differ and require different chemical finishes ensuring quality and durability.

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Table of Contents


Polyurethane comes into two primary forms which are the water base and the oil base. Then the two types also come in different varieties which give different looks and finish on the wood since you may get a satin look and gross look as well.

If you are looking for the best chemical finish that will last for long, then polyurethane is the best choice. The product is more durable considering it can withstand high temperatures as opposed to others. This is the reason as to why it is more preferred on finishing the wooden floors, tables, and the chairs. It gives the furniture a beautiful shiny look and at the same time protects it from the external damages like heat.

How is Polyurethane Applied to the Wood?

The product can be applied in two different forms which are the smear form and the spray form. Most people prefer the spray form when working on large products or if you want to work fast. It is easy to spray the product on the wood as opposed to working with a brush.

But on the other hand, there are those who prefer to use the smear polyurethane since it gives a better rich finish as opposed to the spray. Most people who use the smear style are the professional carpenters. But if it is a DIY project at home, the spray style would work for you.

Pros and Cons of Polyurethane


  • It adds a touch of a shiny look on the wood. (It is referred to as melted plastic since it gives the table a shiny and smooth look).
  • Heat resistance thus does not get easily damaged by the heat.
  • It is durable.
  • The product does not easily get scratched off.


  • The product takes longer to dry. (This makes unreliable for fast projects).
  • It produces toxic smells. (You have to apply the product in an open area, or there has to be enough ventilation).
  • It is highly flammable.

Tips to Consider when using Polyurethane

  • Always make sure the surface you are applying the product on is smooth and has no blemish. Therefore sand the surface and wipe off any dust.
  • Mix the oil polyurethane with mineral spirits for better and creamy application.
  • Consider applying the top coat two days after using the first one to get a better finish.

Polycrylic and Polyurethane


Polycrylic is water-based wood finish which comes in different forms to provide a variety of finishes. You can get this product in satin, and gloss. What makes this product to stand out from other finishes is the fact that it dries up pretty fast when applied on the surface. So, if you are working on a deadline project, this would be the perfect finish to use. It is mainly used on finishing pieces of furniture like the cabinets, doors, and chairs. This is because the product offers excellent protection to the surfaces of this furniture and it is durable as well.

Another essential thing to note about Polycrylic is that it is ideal for light wood with surfaces like the wood ash or maple because it does not add any profound color effect on the wood. So, if you are looking for a bright finish on the furniture, Polycrylic is the right choice to make. It is quite versatile since you can use it over a water-based wood or just on bare wood.

How is Polycrylic Applied to the Wood?

Polycrylic is made in a wet form, and therefore it sticks better and works well if sprayed to the surface as opposed to smearing it. Note that if you know how to work with the product using a brush, you can still utilize the smearing method only that it will take a longer time before the finish is well spread.

Pros and Cons of Polycrylic


  • It is durable.
  • It dries up pretty fast.
  • The product is quite easy to clean up. (Making it suitable for use in kids’ furniture such as the desks and chairs) .
  • It does not give the furniture a tinted finish.
  • The product is much cheaper compared to others, and you can get it in different outlets near you.


  • It takes a long time to apply.
  • Dries up very fast. (Although this may be a pro if you want to finish up your project more quickly, it may also pose some cons since it hinders you from working on large projects. The drying up fast effect causes you not to have a good and even finish on the wood.

Tips to Consider when using Polycrylic

  • Ensure that the surface you are working on is well sanded and free from debris and dust.
  • Apply the first coat of Polycrylic using a spray gun.
  • Allow the product to dry up although it takes less time.
  • Then apply other two more layers to ensure that you get a good finish.


Every product from the above review has its pro and cons. But the choice between the two depends on your needs as the user and the finishing you want to achieve. This is because when it comes to polyurethane, it gives the wood a tint kind of look but Polycrylic gives the wood a bright and shiny look. So, know what you want to achieve on the project you are working on to be able to choose the most suitable finish that will help you achieve your goals.

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