How Tough Is Polyurethane? [And How Durable]

Polyurethane is a multipurpose plastic material that you can use as a clear finishing applicator. But is it capable of long-lasting use? To find out, we have prepared extensive research on how polyurethane works, what it consists of, and if it is tough enough to use at home. 

Besides being moldable and versatile, polyurethane is also very strong and lasts for years. This material is tough enough and maintains these qualities:

  • Polyurethane is hard.
  • Polyurethane is durable.
  • Polyurethane is scratch-resistant.

You can keep using polyurethane material to cover your industrial and household items, including woodwork, furniture, and cabinetry. It can guarantee the durability you need, perfect to withstand any pressure and damage.

But, how does polyurethane work with great strength and durability? Would it really provide extra preservation to your furniture? Find out the real reasons why this plastic material assures a better finishing coat for your wood projects, stay with us!

Man works with polyurethane resin for interiors, How Tough Is Polyurethane? [And How Durable]

What Makes Polyurethane Tough? 

Polyurethane carries the formulation of resin molecules, enabling its materials to bond tightly when dried. In addition, the chemistry of polyurethane enables adaptability to different shapes and forms. That’s why it has the strength to face different types of damage.

Besides its natural composition, the application of polyurethane sits smoothly to any object, keeping it more intact than other finishing applicators. See below the main reasons behind each quality of polyurethane.

Polyurethane is hard

Wet polyurethane on new hardwood floor with window reflection

At first, the application of polyurethane to your wood starts wet. But after a while, it dries up quickly. This process allows the polyurethane to harden enough to cover your wood furniture. 

In this case, wood with a polyurethane finish can withstand rough conditions. So, polyurethane is hard enough to prevent the progression of heat, dry air, water, or chemicals that might damage your wood. 

For example, coasters for your wooden table would not be necessary if you had already applied polyurethane. The water ring would not be seen anymore as the polyurethane refrains the condensation from occurring. 

Thus, the hardness of polyurethane film, once dry, stands as a shield. Moreover, it can resist different elements in the surrounding. Who wouldn’t want to have protection to their favorite furniture, right?

Polyurethane is durable

Polyurethane is highly durable due to its compact formation. So, it is suitable as a clear exterior coating for any materials, especially when the wood is exposed to sunlight, rain, and other elements. 

Comparing other exterior coatings like water-based coating, paints, and shellac can only go up to a year to three years. But polyurethane can last up to 10 to 20 years! And it does not require you to reapply it overtime. How convenient, right?

So, if you start using polyurethane in your wooden furniture, you might as well save lots of time and money. In addition, its durability allows you to maintain your woodwork easily.

Polyurethane is scratch-resistant

Another fascinating feature of polyurethane, when used as a wood coating, is its scratch resistance. Due to its plastic-like material, polyurethane can quickly shrink to mold the shape of the wood. So, any sharp object cannot easily pluck it. 

Furthermore, you can easily clean wood furniture with polyurethane. It is smudge-free and very delicate to leave marks. You wouldn’t worry about any chemical that might contact your wood through this case. 

Most importantly, wooden floors and furniture with polyurethane are highly protected from cracks, abrasion, cuts, tears, and common damage on wood. 

These three qualities reveal why polyurethane is tough and durable enough for your construction. It lets you enjoy all its long-lasting effects. But, would it be worth it to use them all the time? Check out how you can utilize polyurethane and why it is an excellent investment for your woodwork.

Where can you use polyurethane? 

You can also use polyurethane for another home decor, other than wooden floors or furniture. For example, you can use it on your desks, bookcases, countertops, picture frames, or even on your cabinets. As long as these items are in the wood, you can apply polyurethane as a finishing coat. 

Painter brushing clear polyurethane on hardwood floor

Outdoor furniture could also get some polyurethane application. So, your wooden benches, doors, bins, and wooden gates can be extra protected. As a result, these woods can keep their color and quality.

But then, outdoor wooden items might not be as preserved as the furniture that is not highly exposed to extreme conditions. Nevertheless, polyurethane could still provide good exterior coats. 

What type of polyurethane should I buy?

You could consider the available types and finishes of polyurethane. Here are the types you can choose from.

  • Oil-based. It is a type of polyurethane that dries slower the most. However, it gives your wood the hardest and most durable quality film. As for its color, it brings an amber tone, bringing a warmer wood hue. Moreover, it has higher VOCs.
  • Water-based. It is more watery compared to the oil-based type. It dries quickly as you apply it with good ventilation. Unlike the oil-based polyurethane, water-based maintains the wood’s color and keeps lower VOCs.
  • Water-based oil-modified. If you wish to have an amber-color finish that dries up faster, you can use this type of polyurethane. It even has the same VOCs as the water-based.

Besides the type of polyurethane, you could also choose from its final finishes of gloss, semi-gloss, or satin. Choose the finish you like depending on your preference. 

How to apply polyurethane?

Protecting wood furniture with oiling

Experts recommend the use of wipers, brushes, or sprays. However, similar to the type of polyurethane and finishes, it is still your choice to apply them. 

Brushing polyurethane

You can use a natural-bristle brush to pat the wooden furniture. Others don’t prefer rollers or foam brushes as they may cause tiny bubbles. First, place the polyurethane solvent in a clean container. Then, get your dampen brush to the solvent and tap it to the furniture.

With the use of a brush, never wipe it as it prevents you from controlling the application’s thickness. 

Wiping polyurethane

The hand-rubbed application is one of the traditional ways woodworkers do. It allows them to wipe the polyurethane with ease. It even keeps the thickness on each ends more balanced. Simply wear gloves or hand covers while doing the wiping-on process.

Spraying polyurethane

Spraying a polyurethane clear coat on a stained cherry column

Another more accessible and more modern way of applying polyurethane is through spraying. You can purchase them in shops, and you only need to spray them directly on the furniture. Make sure not only to spray in a single area but spread them evenly as you move your hands.

In applying polyurethane, never shake the can to prevent creating bubbles. You also shouldn’t add thin for the first coating. Moreover, keep tack cloth and wax away as it might interfere with the effect of polyurethane on your furniture. 

How can you maintain your furniture with polyurethane?

Whether you consider oil-based, water-based, water-based oil-modified, and any finishes, make sure to clean furniture in the best way possible. Usually, you can wash it with soap, water, and a wet rag. 

You can also keep polyurethane intact if you are not exposing it to hard chemicals like fingernail polish remover or strong agents like ammonia-based cleaners. These abrasive chemicals might damage the coating.

Is polyurethane really helpful?

Besides having no adverse impact on the environment, it even helps you preserve your wood. Here are some of its benefits:

  • Polyurethane can shield the wood from harmful bacteria, dirt, and mold, damaging the quality and color of the wood. 
  • Polyurethane is highly versatile to adapt to the material’s shape and edges.
  • Polyurethane can be used in different materials as wood, concrete, and steel.
  • Polyurethane can enhance the item’s natural color, bringing different aesthetics to the look.
  • Polyurethane saves you money and energy for keeping your materials durable.
  • Polyurethane is perfect for both interior and exterior use.
  • Polyurethane is accessible on the market, and you can get it anytime.

With all the benefits of polyurethane to your house building and maintenance, you could really use it right away. Unlike other finishing applicators, polyurethane has an edge due to its durability and strength to withstand different things. 

Where can you buy polyurethane?

Simply visit hardware stores to get polyurethane. There are highly accessible today, allowing you to obtain them nearby anywhere you live. To make it more convenient for you, you can also order them online and wait until it reaches your front door. 


Polyurethane brings more convenient work for you in keeping your furniture long-lasting. Try using polyurethane in your woodwork and see how it proves its tough and durable qualities. Also, watch out how this material can surely improve your wood projects.

To learn more about polyurethane, check the following articles:

What Does Polyurethane Bond Well With?

Does Polyurethane Come In Different Colors?


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