Many people have problems in choosing the right chemical finishes. The two most famous ones are polyacrylic and polyurethane. After different tests and lot research, we are here to help you find the right finish to your woods. Let’s compare Polycrylic vs Polyurethane.
Both of them are very important for finishing the wood pieces. People who use different types of wood for building various things can use both. If the user needs to finish his interior pieces, polyacrylic is the better choice. They give a coat to the surface, which can dry very fast too. They are very affordable.
Polyurethane is a better choice for the finished and unfinished wood. They are very durable too. They can protect the wood from scratches better than polyacrylic. Both materials are useful for different projects. Let’s find out more about these products.
Polycrylic Vs Polyurethane: Comparison Chart
Here is the table which compares the main features between polyacrylic and polyurethane.
|Price||Cheaper||A bit expensive|
|Time to dry||Less||Takes more time|
|Odor||Not very strong||Strong odor|
|Durability||Not as durable as polyurethane.||Excellent durability|
|Materials||Not suitable for large and vertical materials.||Very good for all materials.|
|Colour||Milky white||Yellowish tint|
Polycrylic Vs Polyurethane: Differences
Polycrylic is more affordable than many other finishes in the market as they are water-based. This makes them cheaper and easier to make too. It is available in liquid aerosol cans and sprays. Polyurethane is a bit expensive than the latter. The oil-based ones may need more money in preparation. They aren’t as affordable as polyacrylic.
Bottom Line: Polycrylic is cheaper and available in stores everywhere.
2. Cleaning Up The Wood
Cleaning of the finish makes it look better. Polycrylic needs soap and warm water to clean the surface. This can give them a beautiful finish. This is not the same for oil-based polyurethanes. They need a mineral spirit to get cleaned. Water-based polyurethanes need soap and warm water.
Bottom Line: Polycrylic is easier to clean up with soap and warm water.
The polyacrylic has a milky white appearance. They dry crystal clear if applied right. If the user applies too much to the wood, it may give a milky look. Polyurethane has a different color. The water-based one is almost in the color of polyacrylic. The oil-based one has a yellowish tint. They can get yellow as time passes. They can make light wood look dull.
Bottom Line: Both of them have different colors, but polycrylic doesn’t affect the wood much.
4. Safety In Work
Polycrylic doesn’t have any danger and can keep a smooth working environment. They are not combustible and have fewer VOCs. VOC stands for volatile organic compounds. They do not have a potent smell too. This is not the case in polyurethanes. They are more dangerous to work with. They are combustible and have a lot of VOCs. A well- ventilated area and respirator is critical while using them. They have a powerful and persisting smell too. That is a reason why workers leave the windows open for extended hours after using them. It is a toxic and flammable finish.
Bottom Line: Polycrylic is a bit safer than polyurethane to work with.
5. Time To Dry
Time might be an essential factor for many workers. Polyurethane may take more time to dry. Even after it dries, the curing process takes more time. Polycrylic is opposite to its competitor in this feature. It takes very little time to dry.
Bottom Line: If your work is very time efficient, it is better to prefer polyacrylic.
6. The Final Finish
Polycrylic gives a transparent finish, but this is not true in all cases. If the user applies more thick coats to the surface, it can result in a milky finish. This is more common in dark-colored projects. In polyurethane, they add a warm glow to dark woods. But they can make light wood look dull. They even tend to get yellow with age.
Bottom Line: Both coats can give different finishes to different types of woods.
Even though polyurethane takes more time to dry up, but after drying up, they give a robust shell over the material. This is very durable and hard. They can even prevent the materials from scratches. This makes the finish long-lasting too. The polyacrylic also gives a neat finish. But they aren’t as durable as polyurethane.
Bottom Line: Polyurethane gives a durable and robust finish.
Polycrylic takes very little time to dry. But the consistency of it makes them very tough to apply in larger surfaces. Polycrylic is handy for softwood. Polyurethane is very versatile. It can finish both finished and unfinished wood. They are convenient for all types of wood. The slow drying nature makes it apt for large surfaces. The user need not worry about some sections drying before the finish of the entire piece. This may make the appearance terrible and inconsistent.
Bottom Line: Polyurethane is more versatile than polyacrylic.
Polycrylic Vs Polyurethane: Similarities
Polyurethane and polyacrylic are protective coats used for wood. They add shine to the wood. The oil-based polyurethane and polyacrylic may have many differences between them. But there are few similarities too.
1. Water-Based Polyurethane
But the water-based polyurethane is the same as polyacrylic. They dry fast like polyacrylic. Soap and warm water are enough to clean them up. They dry clear and give a transparent finish. These are some similarities between polyurethane and polyacrylic.
2. Protective Materials
Protective equipment is essential while using these coats. The VOC in the coats may cause many health risks. Even though polycrylic doesn’t give strong odor, it’s better to use protective equipment. Sometimes it’s better to use respirators while using polycrylic too. Make sure you never shake liquid polyurethane. This may bring bubbles that may be on the brush.
The user can either spray or brush both the products. The runnier consistency of polyacrylic might give the user some tough time. The user has to be careful and apply thin coats. The user should also watch out for drips. A small mistake can give sticky finishes. This may be a problem for larger surfaces too. This is because they dry very fast. They have a runny consistency and need three good coats to get finished. Polyurethane is better for larger surfaces. Even though they take more time to dry, they give a more challenging and durable finish. They also need many coats. Before the next coats, dust should get sanded from the material. It may cause problems.
Both products have some pros and cons. The user should identify which is better for his need.
Sheens is the level of glossiness. The different gloss levels tell the shine they produce. A higher gloss level gives more shine, and a lower level provides lesser shine. The gloss has the highest level, and matte has the lowest level. Semi-gloss and satin come between them. Polycrylic and polyurethane are available at all levels except semi-gloss. They are even available in matte finishes.
Polycrylic Vs Polyurethane: Technical Features
Features Of Polyacrylic
Polycrylic is a water-based finish made by Minwax. They dry very quickly and give a transparent finish. They are very affordable. Objects like tables and chairs get finished by polyacrylic. People who work with wood rarely prefer polyacrylic. This is because of the less time it takes to dry. They also have many other applications. They do not change the appearance of the stain much.
They do not enhance the shine like polyurethane but can add beauty to interior works. People working with furniture prefer polycrylic for faster work. The user can apply polyacrylic with a spray bottle or roller. This gives the user a choice and can help them reach the corners. Light wooden surfaces need proper finishes without damaging their appearance. That is the reason why people prefer polycrylic for light wooden surfaces. They give a transparent finish with no tint. They have a chemical structure that allows polyacrylic to protect from water. They have compounds made from molecules of acrylic and methacrylic acid.
They are one of the best water-based stains in the market. Cleaning up them is not a challenging process too. It needs soap and warm water to clean them up. They have a more runny consistency. This can give the user a bit of trouble while working with large and vertical surfaces. They do not have a strong odor like polyurethane. They are also not combustible and have fewer VOCs. Polycrylic is available in high gloss and satin. They are also available in a matte finish. Three coats pf polyclinic are perfect for a standard finish.
Features Of Polyurethane
Sometimes your wood may need hard finishes for extra protection. Polyurethane is a challenging and abrasion-resistant coating. They are a very protective top coating. They give a shiny finish to the wood too. Polyurethane is a polymer that contains alcohol and histamine. They form urethane bonds. Polyols and isocyanates react with a catalyst to produce polyurethane. These compounds help the wood get a rigid finish.
They are perfect for wood pieces that get exposed to heat and moisture. They need durable and hard coatings. Polyurethane is ideal for this as they give a good hard finish. They are very durable and long-lasting too. They are available in two different forms. They are oil-based polyurethane and water-based polyurethane. The water-based is less toxic and more like polyacrylic. They dry quicker and have less strong odor too. They contain less VOC than the oil-based polyurethanes. Water-based polyurethanes are apt for side tables, shelves, and frames.
Oil-based polyurethanes are the standard polyurethanes. They do not dry fast and are combustible too. They contain more VOCs, which may be harmful. Respirators are very important while using polyurethane. They are very durable and apt for hard finishes. This can help them handle extreme conditions. Even if the coat takes a longer time to dry, they form a robust shell. They have properties like melted plastic. The shine also gets more challenging due to the compounds present in them. The finish is also scratch proof. Oil-based polyurethane is suitable for hardwood flooring and big tables. They are perfect for wet surfaces.
Steps To Apply Polyacrylic
Here are a few steps to help you finish your wood with polyacrylic. They don’t need a lot of time.
Total Time: 45 Minutes
Make sure the surface is dry. It should be free from wax, grease, or any other unwanted materials.
The surface must not be irregular. Sand it to get a smooth and uniform surface. It would give a better appearance at the end. If needed, apply stains. But whatever you do, make sure it dries completely.
Stir well before using polyacrylic. If you are using the spray, do not shake it too much.
Apply a skinny coat over your material. Make sure your brush is high quality and synthetic. Bristle brushes are the right choice.
Leave it to dry for 2-3 hours. Sand the surface with fantastic sandpaper for a uniform finish. Try removing all the dust around the surface. Never use the steel wool for sanding.
Apply a second coat after doing the above step without any mistakes. Then again, follow the above step.
Give a final coat for a better finish. Three coats will be good for a standard finish. Leave it for a day, and your material is ready to use.
Steps To Apply Polyurethane
Check the surface for any irregularities. Make sure to remove all the dust with a cloth.
If needed, stain the surface. But make sure the surface is clean and dry before staining.
Start dipping your brush in polyurethane and make sure to make long strokes. Overlap each pass until the surface gets coated completely. If there are any drips, smooth them into the surface with the brush. Wait for a few mins and check for drips. Leave it to dry.
Another two undiluted polyurethane coats are preferable. Do not wipe the brush in the rims, as this may result in air bubbles. Spread the coats in the same way as the first coat. Try to get a nice coat without dry spots.
Overlap your coats for better results. Follow the same steps for the third coat also. Leave it to dry.
After it dries, check for drips and cut them off. Wet sanding could remove blemishes if there are any.
After this dries and it’s uniform all over the surface, give a final coat. Remember to leave adequate time for the surface to dry between each coat.
Polycrylic Vs Polyurethane: Pros & Cons
1. Which is the best for flooring?
Flooring needs a very durable finish. This is because it gets used the most in a house, and the user can’t be working on it often. Polyurethane is better in this case. It can give a durable and robust coating, which can last for a long time. It can also withstand the exposure of water and moisture.
2. Can we use steel wool instead of sandpaper for sanding the surface?
The steel wall is not a preferable choice. Steel wool and water could result in rust. So, it’s better to avoid steel wool near any water based wood finishing products. This may leave a stain on the surface. It’s better to use the #220 sandpaper for neater results.
3. Is foam brushes preferable for applying polyurethane or polyacrylic?
The foam brush has a blade instead of bristles. It may even start dissolving as the user brushes on stains and mineral spirit finishes. There must be a smooth coat of finish on the surface. The foam brush also contains air, which may result in air bubbles. The foam brush is not as good as the bristle one for this activity.
The wood sealers like polyacrylic and polyurethane are very important for wood projects. They can make it last for a longer time and protect it too. Before choosing the best between the two, the user must find his needs and choose according to it.
Polycrylic is a better choice for interior works such as tables. It takes very little time to dry and is very cheap too. If your project is very time efficient, they are the best choice. They do not have many dangers while using them.
Polyurethane gives high quality and robust finish. It is very durable and versatile. It can withstand heat and moisture. But it may take more time to dry and may be dangerous. We hope you have made your choice. Thank you for reading our review.
Varathane 200041H Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane - Editor's Choice
Polycrylic is a water-based finish made by Minwax. They dry very quickly and give a transparent finish. They are very affordable. Objects like tables and chairs get finished by polyacrylic. People who work with wood rarely prefer polyacrylic. This is because of the less time it takes to dry.