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Polyurethane Finishes

When you are looking to seal wood, whether it be a floor or furniture, one of the most popular alternatives to paint is to use polyurethane. Polyurethane provides a clear or near clear, hard coating.

Selecting a Type

Polyurethane is available in water-based and oil-based mixtures. Water-based mixtures are easier to work with (much lower fumes, faster drying, less likely to yellow over time) but lack the hardness of an oil-based polyurethane. Do not mix types of polyurethane (oil and water don't mix); make sure the prior coat is completely dry (matter of days, if not weeks) before switching.


Polyurethane, like paint, is available in a range of finishes. Flat or satin finishes are dull, semi-gloss (as the name implies) has some reflective shine to it, and gloss is very shiny (think of a basketball court). Finishes are a matter of personal taste; however, the shinier finishes tend to wear longer.


Using a sanding sealer is highly recommended before coating with polyurethane. Just make sure the sealer is compatible with the type of polyurethane you will be using, and be sure to lightly sand between the sealer and the polyurethane (and between coats of polyurethane) so that the top coat has a surface it can grip.

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