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What Is The Downside Of Oil-Based Polyurethane?


If you are looking for a high-quality finish for your wood projects, then you may be considering using oil-based polyurethane. This type of finish has many benefits, but there is also a downside to using it. 

In this blog post, we will discuss the pros and cons of oil-based polyurethane so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to use it.

What Are The Downsides To Using Oil-Based Polyurethane

One of the biggest downsides to oil-based polyurethane is that it can be difficult to apply. It can be tricky to get a smooth, even finish with it. You have to be careful not to put on too much or too little, and it can take several coats to get the desired look.

Another downside is that it takes a long time to dry. You have to wait several hours between coats, and it can take up to 72 hours for it to cure completely. This can be problematic if you’re trying to finish a project on time.

Finally, oil-based polyurethane will yellow over time. This is most noticeable on floors, as the finish can darken and turn amber. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is something to be aware of if you’re trying to maintain a light and airy look in your home.

Overall, oil-based polyurethane is a great option for those who are looking for a durable finish. Just be aware of its potential drawbacks before you start your project.

What Is Oil-Based Polyurethane And What Are Its Benefits

Oil-based polyurethane is a type of clear finish that is most often used to protect wood floors and furniture from scratches, and wear and tear. 

Oil-based polyurethane benefits are:

  • It is a very durable finish: Oil-based polyurethane has a reputation for being one of the most durable clear finishes available. It is ideal for high-traffic areas and surfaces that will see a lot of wear and tear.
  • Oil-based polyurethane looks better: One of the benefits of oil-based polyurethane is that it has a more attractive finish than water-based polyurethane.

How To Apply Oil-Based Polyurethane

Applying oil-based polyurethane is not difficult, but there are a few things you need to do to get a good finish.

  • First, you need to sand the surface you’re going to be a coating. This roughs up the surface so the polyurethane will have something to grab onto. You don’t need to sand too much, just enough to create a little bit of texture.
  • Next, you need to apply the first coat of polyurethane. You want to do this in long, broad strokes so that you don’t miss any spots. It’s also important to keep the application thin – if it’s too thick, it will take forever to dry and could end up looking uneven. Once you’ve coated the entire surface, wait for it to dry.
  • Once the first coat has dried, you can start working on the second coat. Again, sand lightly before applying the polyurethane. This time, however, you can be a little bit more generous with the coating. You don’t need to worry about it being too thick because you’re going to sand it down anyway.
  • You may need to apply a third coat, depending on how smooth you want the surface to be. Once you’re happy with the final coat, let it dry completely before using the furniture or putting anything on top of it.

Now that you know how to apply oil-based polyurethane, you can protect your surfaces and keep them looking beautiful for years to come. Just remember to take your time and sand between each coat for the best results.

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How To Clean Up After Applying Oil-Based Polyurethane

After you’re finished applying the polyurethane, you’ll need to clean up your work area. Any paint brushes or rollers that you used should be cleaned with mineral spirits. If you don’t clean them properly, they can become stiff and difficult to use again. Once everything is cleaned up, make sure to put all of your materials away so that they don’t become damaged.

Oil-based polyurethane can also be quite messy to work with. It’s important to wear old clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. You should also lay down some drop cloths or newspapers to protect your floors from any spills. Overall, oil-based polyurethane is a great product to use if you’re looking for a durable finish.

The Results You Can Expect From Using Oil-Based Polyurethane

Oil-based polyurethane is one of the best finishes you can use on wood. It’s durable, easy to apply, and has a beautiful lustrous finish. However, there are some downsides to using this type of finish. Oil-based polyurethane is the most difficult to work with among the other options for a clear finish for woodworking projects.

If you’re not careful, oil-based polyurethane can leave your woodworking project looking messy and amateurish. It can also be difficult to apply evenly. When applied incorrectly, oil-based polyurethane can leave brush strokes and lap marks.

When applied correctly, however, oil-based polyurethane can give your woodworking project a beautiful, professional finish. It’s also very durable, so it will protect your project from wear and tear.

How Long Does Oil-Based Polyurethane Last?

As we mentioned earlier, oil-based polyurethane has a much longer lifespan than water-based polyurethane. It can last up to 10 to 20 years! This is great news if you are looking for a long-term investment in your floors. However, it is important to keep in mind that oil-based polyurethane is much more difficult to repair than water-based polyurethane. If your floors are damaged, you will likely need to replace the entire layer of oil-based polyurethane.

Additionally, oil-based polyurethane is also more susceptible to yellowing over time. This is because it is made with natural oils, which can darken and yellow over time and when exposed to sunlight. If you are looking for a polyurethane that will maintain its color over time, water-based polyurethane is a better option.

Is Oil-Based Polyurethane Durable?

Yes, oil-based polyurethane is an incredibly durable finish. It is resistant to scratches, scuffs, and stains. However, it is not indestructible. Oil-based polyurethane can be damaged by heat, sunlight, or water. If your floors are subject to any of these elements, you will need to be extra careful to protect them.

Another downside of oil-based polyurethane is that it can yellow over time. This is especially true if it is exposed to sunlight. If you want to maintain the original color of your floors, you will need to be vigilant about protecting them from the sun.

Overall, oil-based polyurethane is a durable and long-lasting finish. However, it does have some drawbacks that you should be aware of. If you are considering this finish for your floors, be sure to weigh the pros and cons carefully before making a decision.

How Do I Know If My Polyurethane Is Still Good?

The first thing you’ll want to do is check the expiration date. Most polyurethane products have a shelf life of about 6-12 months once opened. After that, the chemicals start to break down and it won’t work as well. You might not notice any difference at first, but over time it will become less effective.

If you can’t find an expiration date, or if it’s been more than two years since you purchased the polyurethane, there are a few other ways to tell if it’s still good. One is to smell it. If it smells rancid or like chemicals, it’s probably time to toss it. Another way to tell is to look at the consistency. If it’s thick and goopy, it’s probably time to get a new batch.

Once you’ve determined that your polyurethane is still good, it’s time to apply it. Make sure you read the instructions on the can before you start, as there are some important tips to follow.

How Long Does Polyurethane Stay Good For?

Oil-based polyurethane has a shorter shelf life than water-based polyurethane. Once opened, it will start to cure and harden within six months to a year. After that time, it will become gummy and eventually unusable. Water-based polyurethane can last for several years if stored properly.

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Kevin Nelson

I will always have a special place in my heart for woodworking. I have such fond memories working on projects with my parents on the weekends in the garage growing up. We built tables, shelves, a backyard shed, 10' base for a water slide into the pool, 2 story fort playhouse with a fire pole, and so much more. This woodworking blog allows me to write helpful articles so others can enjoy woodworking as much as we have.

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