Polyurethane Vs. Urethane Coatings: Key Differences

If you’re looking to paint your home, chances are you’ve heard of two popular types of coating: polyurethane vs. urethane coatings. Both can be used in various applications, but each offers different features and benefits. In this article, we’ll break down the differences between these two coatings so that you can decide which product is best for your needs.


Polyurethanes are polymers made from the reaction between two or more isocyanates and polyols. The resulting material is flexible but can also be rigid in specific applications like coatings for boats or cars. Urethanes are polymers made from the reaction between an isocyanate and a polyol (commonly trimethylolpropane). Both coatings have similar properties, including being highly glossy when applied to surfaces such as wood or concrete; however, they differ in their chemical composition, which affects how they react with other substances at room temperature conditions, like hot water spills on your countertop!


In terms of durability, polyurethane coatings are more resistant to water, chemicals, UV light, and other elements that lead to peeling. They can also be recoated within a day or two after being applied. In contrast, urethane coatings take longer to cure before they can be recoated—usually around 24 hours or longer. The result is that polyurethane is much more durable and ideal for exterior wood surfaces exposed to adverse weather conditions regularly.


VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are harmful to the environment and can lead to respiratory issues in workers. Polyurethane coatings have fewer VOCs than urethane coatings do. This means that they’re more environmentally friendly and less likely to cause health problems for you or your team.


The next area in which polyurethane is superior to urethane is in its ability to be repaired. Polyurethanes are far more sandable and repairable than their urethane counterparts. If a polyurethane coating is damaged or needs repairing, it can simply be sanded smooth and then primed with another coat of polyurethane paint or stain. This can’t be done with a urethane coating because the material will not bond well at all with an existing layer of urethane material that has been applied over wood without any primer first being applied between coats. However, if you do need to repair your surface after applying a thin amount of polyurethane primer (generally less than 1 mil), then there’s no need for concern; just remember that anything thicker than this will require two separate coats: one for bonding with the surface and another for creating a new layer on top!

Drying Times

The drying times for polyurethane and urethane coatings are different. On average, a polyurethane coating will dry in eight hours, while urethane coatings take 24 hours to fully cure. It’s important to note that these numbers are just averages and can vary depending on the manufacturer and type of paint in question.

For example, if you’re working with an oil-based polyurethane versus water-based polyurethanes, your drying time will be faster because oil dries faster than water—in fact, it takes only four hours for an oil-based polyurethane to dry on most surfaces! And while this is great news if you’re impatient (and don’t have time to wait around), keep in mind that once it’s dry enough to walk on again without leaving footprints behind (which means no bleeding through), there will still be some slight tackiness until the next day when all of those molecules finally settle into place completely!


Polyurethane is the most common type of coating today. It offers many advantages over urethane, but it also comes with some disadvantages that you should consider before making your decision. If you’re looking for a durable finish that won’t need to be touched up or repaired often, polyurethanes may be right for you!