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How Long Does Polyurethane Take to Dry?

A polyurethane coating is essential for many timber projects since it is the ideal finish for hardwood floors, sanded wood, and wood furniture. However, it’s crucial to comprehend the polyurethane dry time prior to using it. There are numerous varieties of polyurethane, and each has varied characteristics and curing process times.

If you’re wondering how long water-based polyurethane wood floors take to cure, read our detailed guide below for all the information you need on water-based polyurethane drying times and the various options available.

Keep reading to find the answer to “how long does polyurethane take to dry”, as well as general details on polyurethane.

Water-Based Polyurethane or Oil-Based Polyurethane?

You must first comprehend precisely what polyurethane is and how it is made. Polyurethane resins are dissolved and conveyed by a liquid solvent to create polyurethane coatings or varnish. Basically, this produces a liquid – either water-based or oil-based.

There are two choices when considering the liquid base of polyurethane: water or oil-based poly. Both of these have varied drying times and generate very different results.

How Long Does Polyurethane Take To Dry?

Light-handed application and a second coat or final coat two hours after applying the first coat are acceptable for water-based polyurethanes. After 24 hours, the surface can once again be used normally.

Three to four hours must pass before you go back to handling or recoating oil-based polyurethane varnish. Before utilising the surface normally, give it 48 hours. How many coats you use can affect the drying time.

Spray-on Polyurethane Drying Time

Multiple coats of polyurethane that you spray on will be significantly thinner than those that you apply with a brush. Consequently, even though the manufacturer will advise you to wait the same amount of time as when you brush it on, you may find it doesn’t take as much time for spray-on polyurethane to dry.

That is roughly 2.5 hours for oil-based polyurethanes and 1.5 hours for water-based polyurethane resin.

Curing vs. Drying

You must consider both the drying time and the curing time when using polyurethane.

When the surface of the polyurethane stops feeling tacky and stops looking wet, it is dry. You can now walk on the floor without risk.

It should take between 24 and 48 hours to dry. The only thing you can do on the flooring is walk because any other activity can cause creases and imperfections.

Up until it is fully cured, you shouldn’t move any furniture or place anything heavy on the floor. Before the polyurethane cure time has elapsed, you should also keep any pets out of the area that can damage the floor by running around.

How Long Does It Take For Polyurethane To Cure?

Polyurethane that has finished the drying process entirely is said to be “cured”. The finished product is now ready for use and will support your furniture, withstand foot traffic, and resist scratches for a few years.

The following are the curing times for different types of polyurethane:

Polyurethane is made with water and cures in 3 to 21 days.

Oil-based polyurethane has either a 21- or 30-day curing time.

Before beginning active use, manufacturers recommend waiting the entire 21 days after applying polyurethane for the last coat.

Different Types Of Sheen

The type of sheen the product possesses is another aspect to take into account when calculating the drying time for polyurethane.

There are three different sheen types for polyurethane varnishes. These are the gloss levels — or lack thereof — that the finish delivers after drying.

  • Satin: Unlike other finishes, a satin finish is less glossy. This particular variety of polyurethane has a very faint, barely perceptible gloss and a nearly matte appearance. Polyurethane of this kind dries the quickest.
  • Semi-gloss: Polyurethane with a semi-gloss finish provides a shine that is not as intense as high-gloss choices. This is where shiny and flat meet in the centre. Due to its adaptability and toughness, semi-gloss polyurethane is a preferred material in many cases. This kind of polyurethane dries slightly more slowly than satin finishes, but faster than high-gloss ones.

High-gloss: Polyurethane finish with a high gloss provides a completely shiny and slippery appearance. This kind of varnish is incredibly resilient and has excellent flexibility. Various timber surfaces can be coated with high-gloss polyurethane both inside and outside. It takes a little longer for this finish to dry.

How Can I Shorten The Drying Time Of Polyurethane?

There are many factors affecting polyurethane drying. Controlling these factors can help you make it dry faster. The four most effective methods for accelerating polyurethane’s drying time without compromising the end result are:

  • Ensuring the air temperature is at the right level (21 degrees Celsius is ideal)
  • Opening windows to reduce humidity
  • Using thin layers when applying rather than a thicker coat
  • Adequately preparing the surface before application
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