Polyurethane is a popular choice of finish for furniture, floor coatings, and other wooden objects.
It provides a protective coating. It is typically applied in several coats, with each coat allowed to dry before the next coat is applied.
So how long does polyurethane take to dry?
In this article, we’ll give you an overview of the drying time for polyurethane and some tips to help you get through it as quickly as possible.
Table of Contents
- Difference Between Drying and Curing Time of Polyurethane
- Types of Polyurethane and Their Drying Time
- How Long Does Water Based Polyurethane Take To Dry
- How Long Does Oil Based Polyurethane Take To Dry
- Types of Sheen
- How Long Does It Take for Polyurethane to Dry on Different Surfaces?
- How Long Does Polyurethane Take to Cure?
- Factors That Affect Drying Time Of Polyurethane
- How To Speed Up The Drying Time of Polyurethane
- How Long To Wait Between Coats of Polyurethane?
- What Happens if You Don’t Wait Long Enough Between Coats?
- FAQs About Polyurethane Dry Time
- How Long Should I Wait Before Walking On Polyurethane?
- How Long Does Spray Polyurethane Take To Dry?
- How Long Does It Take For Minwax Polyurethane To Dry?
- How Long Does It Take For Varathane Polyurethane To Dry?
- Why Is Polyurethane Still Tacky After 24 hours?
- How Long Does The First Coat of Polyurethane Take To Dry?
- How Long Does Polyurethane Take To Dry On Wood Furniture?
Difference Between Drying and Curing Time of Polyurethane
It’s important to understand the difference between drying and curing time when it comes to polyurethane.
Drying time is the amount of time it takes for the solvents in the polyurethane to evaporate.
This usually takes several hours, depending on the types of polyurethane, temperature, humidity levels, and other factors.
Curing time is the amount of time it takes for the polyurethane to harden and reach its full strength.
This process happens as the molecules in the polyurethane cross-link and becomes denser. This can take up to 30 days.
So, while you may be able to use your newly-coated object after the drying time has elapsed, it will take a few weeks for the polyurethane to cure fully.
Types of Polyurethane and Their Drying Time
There are two main types of polyurethane: water-based and oil-based.
Water-based polyurethane dries faster than oil-based polyurethane. It also has a lower odor and is less toxic. However, it is not as durable as oil-based polyurethane.
Oil-based polyurethane takes longer to dry, but it is more durable and has a higher sheen. It also tends to yellow over time.
How Long Does Water Based Polyurethane Take To Dry
The water-based polyurethane can take anywhere from 2-8 hours to dry completely. The drying time will depend on the temperature, humidity, and ventilation in the room where the coating is applied.
How Long Does Oil Based Polyurethane Take To Dry
Unlike water-based polyurethane, oil based polyurethane takes longer to dry. It can take anywhere from 24 – 48 hours for oil based polyurethane to completely dry.
Types of Sheen
Polyurethane varnishes come in four levels of sheen: high gloss, semi-gloss,satin, and matte The level of sheen will affect the drying time of the polyurethane.
High-gloss polyurethane finishes give a completely shiny and slick-looking surface that is durable, and flexible.
It takes slightly longer to dry than other types but provides an impressive look when applied correctly.
This type of varnish can be used for indoor or outdoor applications on various wooden surfaces.
The semi-gloss provides enough opulence while still remaining simple but not as much sparkle like high-gloss options do.
It offers just enough visual interest without distracting your artwork. This type dries much faster than high-gloss options but slightly slower than satins products.
Satin is a great choice for those who want to have a durable matte finish and gives the wood a subtle shine.
This type of polyurethane dries quickly, making it the fastest drying option than high gloss and semi-gloss. It usually takes about 2 hours to dry completely.
This finish is perfect if you want zero shine and a more natural look for your woodwork. Matte polyurethane takes about the same amount of time to dry as satin finishes do.
How Long Does It Take for Polyurethane to Dry on Different Surfaces?
Polyurethane can be used on a variety of different surfaces, including wood, metal, and concrete. The drying time will vary depending on the type of surface you’re working with.
In general, polyurethane will take longer to dry on porous surfaces like wood than it will on non-porous surfaces like metal or concrete.
This is because polyurethane has to penetrate into the pores of the wood in order to bond properly.
On average, it will take about 2-4 hours for polyurethane to dry on a non-porous surface. For porous surfaces like wood, it will usually take 8 hours or more for the finish to dry completely.
How Long Does Polyurethane Take to Cure?
Once all the coats of polyurethane are applied and have had time to dry, the finish will start to cure.
Curing is different from drying in that it is a chemical reaction that happens between the polyurethane and the oxygen in the air. This reaction causes the polyurethane to harden and become more durable.
In general, it will take about 30 days for the polyurethane to cure completely. However, you can usually use the furniture after 24 hours. The finish will just continue to get harder and more durable over time.
Factors That Affect Drying Time Of Polyurethane
There are several factors that can affect the drying time of polyurethane, including:
Type of Polyurethane – As we mentioned before, water-based polyurethane dries faster than oil-based polyurethane.
Sheen – The level of sheen will also affect the drying time. High-gloss finishes take slightly longer to dry than other types.
Temperature – The temperature in the place where the coating is applied will also affect the drying time. Warmer temperatures will cause the polyurethane to dry faster.
Humidity – High humidity levels can also slow down the drying time of polyurethane.
Ventilation – Good ventilation will help the solvents in the polyurethane evaporate faster, resulting in a shorter drying time.
Thickness of The Coat – A thicker coat of polyurethane will take longer to dry than a thinner coat.
Application – How the polyurethane is applied can also affect the drying time. If it is sprayed on, it will dry faster than if it is brushed or roller.
Condition of The Wood – The condition of the wood can also affect the drying time. If the wood is very dry, it will absorb the polyurethane faster and the coat will dry quicker.
Formula of The Finish – Some polyurethane finishes are designed to dry faster than others. If you are looking for a quick-drying option, make sure to check the label before purchasing.
Surface Type – The type of surface you are applying the polyurethane to will also affect the drying time. Smooth surfaces will dry faster than porous surfaces.
Absorbency of Wood and Wood Species – Different types of wood will absorb polyurethane at different rates. Hardwoods will generally absorb it quicker than softwoods.
How To Speed Up The Drying Time of Polyurethane
There are a few things you can do to speed up the drying time of polyurethane.
First, make sure you are working in a well-ventilated area. The fumes from polyurethane can be harmful, so it’s important to have good airflow. You can also use a fan to help circulate the air.
Second, increase the temperature in the room if possible. Warm air will help the polyurethane dry faster. Just be sure not to get the surface too hot, as this can cause the polyurethane to bubble.
Third, apply thinner coats of polyurethane. This will help the solvent evaporate more quickly.
Finally, let the first coat of polyurethane dry completely before applying the second coat. If you try to hurry the process by applying successive coats, you may end up with a sticky, tacky surface that takes even longer to dry.
How Long To Wait Between Coats of Polyurethane?
Once the first coat of polyurethane is dry, you can apply the second coat. It’s important to let each coat dry completely before applying the next one.
Depending on the type of polyurethane and the conditions in your workspace, this can take anywhere from 2 to 24 hours.
Oil-based polyurethane will usually take longer to dry than water-based polyurethane. In general, you should wait at least 8 hours before applying the second coat of oil-based polyurethane.
For water-based polyurethane, you can usually apply the second coat after 2-4 hours.
Once you’ve applied the final coat of polyurethane, you should wait at least 24 hours before using the furniture or putting it back in place. This will give the polyurethane plenty of time to cure and harden.
What Happens if You Don’t Wait Long Enough Between Coats?
If you don’t wait long enough between coats, the newly applied coat will not adhere properly to the previous one. This can cause all sorts of problems, including:
Bubbling – The newly applied coat will start to bubble and create a tacky, sticky surface.
Rough Finish – The finish will be rough and uneven.
Peeling – The new coat may start to peel off after it dries.
So, it’s important to be patient and give each coat of polyurethane plenty of time to dry before applying the next one.
FAQs About Polyurethane Dry Time
How Long Should I Wait Before Walking On Polyurethane?
You should wait at least 24 hours before walking on polyurethane.
How Long Does Spray Polyurethane Take To Dry?
Spray polyurethane dries more quickly than traditional polyurethane. So you should wait in 2 hours before applying the second coat.
How Long Does It Take For Minwax Polyurethane To Dry?
For Minwax polyurethane, you should wait at least 8 hours between coats. However, it’s best to wait 24 hours if possible.
How Long Does It Take For Varathane Polyurethane To Dry?
Varathane polyurethane usually dries quickly. In general, you should wait at least 2 hours before applying the second coat. However, it’s best to consult the manufacturer’s instructions for specific drying times
Why Is Polyurethane Still Tacky After 24 hours?
If your polyurethane is still tacky after 24 hours, it may be because the temperature or humidity in your workspace is too high.
You can try using a fan to circulate the air and help the finish dry more quickly. If the problem persists, you may need to wait longer for the polyurethane to cure completely.
How Long Does The First Coat of Polyurethane Take To Dry?
The first coat of polyurethane will usually take about 2-4 hours to dry.
However, this will vary depending on the type of polyurethane you’re using as well as the conditions in your workspace. For oil-based polyurethane, you may need to wait 8 hours or more.
How Long Does Polyurethane Take To Dry On Wood Furniture?
Polyurethane will take longer to dry on wood furniture than it will on other types of surfaces.
This is because the polyurethane has to penetrate into the pores of the wood in order to bond properly. On average, it will take about 8 hours or more for the finish to dry completely.
The drying time for polyurethane is about 24 – 48 hours but depends on many factors, such as the type of polyurethane, the temperature and humidity, surface condition, wood types, application types, and how many coats are being applied.
In general, the oil-based polyurethane will take about 8 hours to dry while water-based polyurethane will take around 2 – 4 hours to dry.
Polyurethane starts to cure immediately after it’s applied. However, it takes about 30 days for the process to be complete. During this time, the finish will continue to harden and become more durable.