April 23, 2022

Polyurethane vs Polycrylic

What is polycrylic used for

Polycrylic is a water-based substance that is less odorous and poisonous than any polyurethane, making it easier to work with. It does not withstand high temperatures as effectively as oil-based polyurethane. It dries quickly, but it takes a long time to cure before being used fully. Resting anything on a polyacrylic-coated surface before it’s finished drying can scratch or indent the transparent layer.

Other floor treatments that are solvent and water-based are designed purposefully for foot activity and can withstand wear and tear. You should not use it outside or on surfaces prone to various wear, such as flooring or surfaces exposed to water. It is not ideal for applying polycrylic to interior surfaces such as cupboards, furniture, and trim.

What is polyurethane used for

Polyurethane is one of the most basic materials used in home furnishings such as furniture, bedding, and carpet underlay and is primarily familiar in the form of flexible foam. Flexible polyurethane foam is a padding material for upholstered furniture, making it more durable, comfortable, and supportive. If you want to show off the wood on its own, you’ll need to use a clear finish. 

For generations, various oils and varnishes have been available to protect the wood. Polyurethane, a robust polymer coating that’s durable, long-lasting, and easy to apply, is the most typical clear finish. It comes in oil-based, water-based, and water-borne oil compositions and can be used for interior or exterior applications, depending on the formula.

Difference between polyurethane and polyacrylic

Chemical Properties

Molar Mass88.109g/molVariable
Molecular FormulaC3H8N2O(C3H4O2)n
World of Chemicals

Polycrylic is significantly less poisonous and harmful

Because polyurethane is highly flammable when wet, you must store it cautiously to avoid a fire. It also has a high VOC count, which might irritate your lungs, necessitating the use of respiratory protection while using it. Polycrylic, on the other hand, has no odor and isn’t nearly as poisonous as polyurethane, so you won’t have to wear any protective clothing when working with it.

Polycrylic is more complicated to apply evenly than polyurethane

You can apply polyurethane and polyacrylic by spraying or brushing. However, the runnier consistency of polyacrylic presents difficulty; you’ll need to spread thin coats and pay attention to drips, then wait until the specified dry time to avoid a sticky finish. Furthermore, because polyacrylic dries quickly to the touch, it’s more challenging to get a consistent finish over a big area.

While polyurethane and polyacrylic are ideal for water-based and oil-based paints and finishes, polyacrylic may take longer to cure over matte latex paint due to additives.

The most durable is oil-based polyurethane

Whether you choose polyurethane or polyacrylic, you’ll obtain a tough, long-lasting finish that will preserve your hardwood furniture or floor from light to moderate wear and tear. On the other hand, oil-based polyurethane is your best bet if you want a sealer that can tolerate more challenging conditions, such as daily, vigorous use or foot traffic. Oil-based polyurethane is also advantageous if your finished object is frequently subjected to high temperatures or wetness.

Polyurethane vs polycrylic vs lacquer

Compared to polyurethane and polyacrylic, lacquer is likely the most versatile, requiring no dilution with a brush or a high-pressure sprayer. It coats evenly and can be applied in many layers while allowing the first coat of oil-based polyurethane to cure. However, polyurethane is generally the best alternative for vertical surfaces because of its thicker consistency.


Oil-based polyurethane is the most cost-effective to apply, as it only requires a decent natural bristle brush. Lacquers are a close second because of their versatility. Nevertheless, polyacrylic is suitable if you have a strong hand, as it’s extremely runny and requires multiple layers, necessitating more cans for the same area.

Drying Time

Lacquer is the clear winner in this category, with water-based lacquers drying far faster than the competition. Polycrylic has a quick drying time on the surface. Still, it takes at least four hours to dry completely, making polyacrylic and polyurethane challenging to recommend in a busy household.


When considering durability, oil-based polyurethane is the best option. Polyacrylics are a good backup option and maybe the best choice for lighter wood surfaces.

Polyacrylic vs polyurethane water-based

Water-based polyurethane has fewer odorous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than oil-based polyurethane, making it easier on your lungs and nose. However, it also dries quickly and is less resistant to high heat and water.

Polycrylic is a water-based substance that is less odorous and poisonous than any polyurethane, making it much easier to work with. It dries quickly, but it takes a long time to cure before being used thoroughly.

Because water-based polyurethane dries clear, you can use it on light woods like maple without fear of fading.

Polycrylic is also supposed to dry clear, but only if you’re careful with your application; it appears milky if applied heavily on dark wood or paint.

The odor of water-based polycrylic compounds is not as strong as that of polyurethane. Second, Polycrylic is non-toxic, so that you can use it in a closed but well-ventilated environment. It’s not tough to work with as a result of this. On the other hand, water-based polyurethane has fewer volatile organic chemicals, making it less hazardous to the lungs and nose. Poly also emits poisonous gases, which can be harmful to your health.

Furthermore, both materials dry quickly, but polyurethane dries faster than water-based polycrylic. While water-based polyurethane may cure entirely in 2 hours, polyacrylic will dry in much less time.

Polyurethane vs polycrylic for dining table

When working in a poorly ventilated environment, you’ll want to utilize polyacrylic, which is less hazardous than polyurethane. Polycyclic dries rapidly, giving it an excellent choice for a dining table.

Minwax polyurethane vs polyacrylic

Polymer compounds such as polyurethane and polyacrylic exist. However, when it comes to characteristics, there are distinctions between Polyurethane and Polycrylic. Polycrylic is the trademark name for a range of polyurethane manufactured by MinWax. 

Polyurethane and Polycrylic differ in that polyurethane comprises urethane linkages, while Polycrylic consists of acrylic acid, methacrylic acid, and their simple esters copolymers. Paints are the most common application for polyacrylic. Polycrylic can protect wood surfaces and various other surfaces against water and other solvents. It serves as a protective layer.

Polyacrylic vs polyurethane over paint

You can apply polyurethane over paint. Both water-based and oil-based polyurethane can be used over any paint as long as it is fully cured and clean. However, discoloration is a concern, particularly with oil-based polyurethane. Latex and oil-based paints and well-bonded wall coverings can get painted with polyacrylic because minor ambering may occur, spot test in a hidden location, and allowed to dry to assure satisfactory findings.

Polyacrylic vs polyurethane for ornaments

For ornaments, both polyacrylic and polyurethane are appropriate. They’re ideal for glitter ornaments, and the end product is always spectacular. Fill a syringe halfway with polyacrylic or polyurethane. Push the syringe up to the top of the ornament. After that, start spinning the poly finish around. Continue to swirl the product until it is wholly coasted.

Begin spinning the glitter until it is completely covered. To drain the excess, flip the ornament upside down in a bit of a piece container. Please use a small funnel to turn the glitter into the ornament once it has drained for two minutes.

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