How Long Does It Take Polyurethane To Dry And Cure

Polyurethane is a category of plastics popularly utilized in domestic furnishings, beddings, and carpet setups. However, polyurethane coats purely defend the layers beneath them as soon as they’ve dried and cured, and this procedure takes time.

It takes between 24 and forty eight hours for a polyurethane coat to dry before you can apply an extra one on top. Curing polyurethane often takes between 3 weeks and a month, after which the outside is able for use.

In this article, we’ll take a more in-depth check out the drying and curing process, the kinds of polyurethane varnish available, and the way to speed up the curing technique if needed.

Polyurethane: Drying vs. Curing Process

Polyurethane is generally accessible as a varnish, which you utilize to coat wooden surfaces to cause them to water resistant and durable for use. However, simply software isn’t sufficient to protect your surfaces – the cloth wants time to set before it can form a protecting coating.


The drying time refers to how quickly polyurethane dries up, leaving a non-sticky floor to which you could apply an additional coat if needed.

The speed at which the coating dries will range in keeping with the type of varnish used. However, it will generally take a day or two, and then you should be able to walk on the wood floor with socks.

However, drying alone doesn’t safeguard the surface from warping or getting damaged. Whether the first coat of polyurethane has dried, you ought to prevent placing heavy objects at the surface – doing this may outcome in the wooden bending or becoming broken in different ways.

Additionally, you want to prevent spilling any drinks onto the surface. If the polyurethane coat has basically dried and not cured, the liquid would nonetheless seep into the wooden below and depart everlasting marks.


Curing is a prolonged process, and it can take among three weeks and a month for a polyurethane coat to correctly cure. This multiplied period enables the polyurethane molecules to chemically work together with oxygen, resulting in a more robust molecular bond.

This signifies that the curing approach facilitates your coats of polyurethane to bind strongly to the wood floor underneath, permitting it to provide protection from heat, pressure, and liquids.

When a polyurethane surface is cured, the wooden is ready to be used and can face up to fixtures and heavy foot traffic with out maintaining damage.

While it can be tempting to start using the surface once the last coat of the varnish has dried, it’s finest to await a month until curing is complete. This would be sure your ground would be durable sufficient to last for years to come.

Does Oil-Based Polyurethane Need More Time to Dry?

While most folk will use the foremost easily accessible polyurethane varnish to guard wood surfaces, it’s vital to keep in mind that not all polyurethane is the same.

The type of polyurethane you use, mixed with the standard of the wood surface, temperature changes, and humidity, will assess the drying and curing time.

Polyurethane is a liquid plastic, and the varnish is made through dissolving the resin in a liquid solvent, like oil or water. This solvent is brushed or painted onto the wooden and evaporates over time, leaving at the back of the polyurethane coating, which protects the wood.

While the aptitude mixtures of wood, solvent, temperature, and other reasons are limitless, there are two kinds of polyurethane you ought to comprehend of whilst working with this material — oil-based and water-based.

Each of those coatings has its professionals and cons, and you should investigate your needs carefully earlier than finding out that’s finest for you.

Water-Based Polyurethane

As mentioned, water-based polyurethane is the sort where water is used as a solvent for the resin. Water-based polyurethane has a miles faster drying time, often permitting you to apply a moment coat within two hours of making use of the first.

This style of polyurethane coating is also odorless, making it attainable to use the varnish no matter if you don’t have sufficient air flow in the area. You should have the ability to gently sand the outside inside some hours of application, because the solvent (water) evaporates soon after application.

That said, it’s vital to remember that when this coating dries quickly, it nonetheless takes at least 3 weeks to cure.

Water-based polyurethane units soon and doesn’t turn yellow with age, making it the ideal selection for most households. However, the flip side is that the sort of coating is less durable and flawed for high-traffic areas, so if you’re searching for a polyurethane coating for a advertisement space, this isn’t the right option for you.

Oil-Based Polyurethane

Oil-based polyurethane takes longer to dry and cure, with the quick-dry versions taking between four and six hours to dry. However, most oil-based coats take at least twenty-four hours to dry before an additional layer could be utilized (though it’s necessarily finest to wait at least forty-eight hours).

When making use of oil-based polyurethane, you’ll desire a well-ventilated placing to make sure the chemical odors don’t cause harm. Oil-based polyurethane calls for a minimum of thirty days to treatment (the longer, the better) and provides a long lasting conclude if allowed to set correctly.

Oil-based polyurethane is more immune to changes in temperature, moisture, and liquid spills. The sole disadvantage is that the sort of finish ‘yellows’ with age, which could break the classy of a space.

Factors That Impact the Drying Time of Polyurethane

We’ve installed that oil-based polyurethane takes longer to dry. However, there are other explanations that impact the drying time of polyurethane.


Polyurethane dries finest between 70°F and 80°F (21°C and 27°C). Keep in mind that whilst it’s possible to manage the temperature at home, it’s problematic to do so in a storage or workshop, so you’ll not have the ability to control how long it takes to dry.

Higher temperatures will trigger the coating to dry through growing the speed of evaporation, while decrease temperatures avert the solvent from evaporating, slowing down the drying time.


Water-based polyurethane should preferably be applied while there’s 50% humidity. If you’re using an oil-based alternative instead, humidity should preferably be 70%.

That said, you will not be capable of manage humidity in addition to you do temperature. An easy rule of thumb to remember is that the extra humid a space is, the longer polyurethane will take to dry.


While it’s vital to handle humidity, it’s also imperative to make sure enough air flow in the place – this isn’t just a safety precaution while using oil-based polyurethanes, it also ensures that any polyurethane coating you employ dries quickly.

For well ventilation, think about keeping the home windows open and permitting various sparkling air in. However, remember that this would also allow dirt or dust from the outside to seep in and settle in your coat, which you’ll have got to clean before making use of the subsequent coat.

Wood Absorbency

Wood, like any other material, is made from cells and absorbs beverages which are poured onto it. However, there’s a reduce to how much liquid could be absorbed before the wooden surface is saturated.

As such, polyurethane will dry at yet another rate based on how saturated the wooden is. If you’re using new wood that hasn’t been dried yet, the coating will take longer to set. This extended drying time is due to the fact there’s already moisture in most cells in this wooden piece.

On the other hand, dry wooden will take up the polyurethane a lot quicker, substantially decreasing drying time. Of course, this will basically occur with the first two or three coats, after which the cells would be more saturated and slower to absorb the liquid.


While it’s surprisingly obvious, it’s nonetheless valued at pointing out here.

The thickness of the coat will play a job in the drying time. A thicker coat will take longer to evaporate, causing the finish to settle later than it’d with a thinner layer. The thickness of the coat could be controlled, so it’s worth keeping in intellect when utilising a coat. However, in case you opt for thinner coats, you’ll have got to practice more coats until your surface is as protected as possible.


Polyurethane coatings are accessible in kinds of sheen, with every of those versions taking an extra amount of time to dry. The 4 such a lot traditional varieties of sheen are:

  • Matte
  • Satin
  • Semi-Gloss
  • Glossy

Matte and satin finishes take less time to dry, whilst semi-gloss and shiny finishes take longer to dry, regardless of which type of polyurethane you use.

How to Speed Up Polyurethane Drying Time

Now that you’ve taken a inspect the different factors that affect the drying time of polyurethane, here’s how you can help accelerate the drying process.

Control the Temperature

If you can modify the temperature in the drying area, you may help speed up the process. Ideally, maintaining a temperature of round 70°F (21°C) will be sure your polyurethane coating dries faster.

You might even flip the temperature up a notch – however, make sure you don’t go too high. Particularly warm temperatures can also adversely affect the drying process. That said, even something as simple as choosing a hotter day to apply the conclude will help speed up the drying time (though you’ll desire to hinder making use of polyurethane external at the peak of summer, of course).

Open the Windows

Opening the windows within the place will help modify humidity and supply ventilation to the coating, which is important for the skin to dry quickly. If you’re considering dust and particles affecting the coating, consider using a fan to blow air around the room instead.

That said, while a fan will help accelerate the drying process, it could also fire up dust that’s already within the room and trigger it to settle on the wet coat. So, you should preferably be sure your room is as clean as attainable earlier than commencing polyurethane application.

Use Dry Wood

If you’re looking to dry your polyurethane coats as soon as possible, one easy alternative is to use dried wooden for the surface, as this will quickly take in the coating as rapid as possible. That said, this feature is basically possible if you’re building anything from scratch – if you’re coating an present surface, you won’t be able to handle what variety of wooden became used in its construction.

Apply Coating With a Roller

As outlined earlier, the thickness of the coat performs a essential role in finding out the drying time, and the thicker the layer, the longer it’ll take to dry.

To ensure you don’t lay it on too thick, consider utilizing a roller instead of a brush to use the varnish. A roller will follow the coat evenly and invariably across the surface, ensuring a faster drying process.

Note: While drying may be sped up, it’s imperative to adhere to the necessary curing time earlier than you start utilizing the surface in question.

How to Determine the Variety of Polyurethane Coats to Apply

The variety of polyurethane coats you follow depends on quite a few factors, including the type of solvent used, the time you have to total the project, and even if the assignment is indoors or outdoors.

There’s often a small window of time when you’ll be capable of follow the second coat. For water-based solvents, that’s generally among two to 3 hours after utilizing the 1st coat, and for quick-drying, oil-based solvents, it’s among six and twelve hours.

If you apply the second coat too early, it’ll smash the consistency of the first coat, and if you use it too late, it won’t combination correctly with the first.

If you’re utilizing oil-based solvents, you’ll have to make sure you have sufficient time to finish the project, as there will be longer durations between each coat. Additionally, in case your task comprises coating an outside area, you’ll have got to be cautious and make sure the first layer isn’t ruined by way of rain or excess sun earlier than making use of the second layer.

Ideally, you’ll need 3 to 6 coats of polyurethane to supply the graceful finish and coverage you’re seeking for. However, past that, you may determine on the number of layers in accordance with the kind of solvent you use, wherein it’s being applied, and the time-frame you’ve where to finish the project.

More FAQs About Drying Polyurethane

How Do You Understand When Polyurethane Has Dried?

To comprehend whether your polyurethane coating has dried, wait until the skin not has a “wet,” cheesy seem to it. As soon as the skin appears dry visually, you may assess by way of gently rubbing a finger over the surface. If liquid sticks on your hand, the coat has now not dried yet.

If it doesn’t stick, the polyurethane has dried, and you can now apply yet another coat (or depart it to cure).

Why Is My Polyurethane Coat Now not Drying?

Your polyurethane coat will not be drying because of numerous factors:

  • The temperature may well be too low. Temperatures around 55°F (13°C) and below will preclude the coating from drying at all.
  • Not enough ventilation. Closed-up locations aren’t perfect for drying polyurethane finishes as there’s no ventilation available.
  • The coat might be too thick. Whilst your coating will subsequently dry, an overly thick coat can avert the first layer from evaporating entirely, leaving the skin tacky and sticky.
  • The wood may be clearly oily. Some wooden surfaces contain natural and organic oils that avoid the coating from seeping into the cells, which can impede the drying process.

Final Thoughts

Polyurethane coating is a good way to guard wood and furnishings opposed to damage from moisture and heat. There are a variety of factors which will verify how lengthy it will take to try, including the type of polyurethane you use, the temperature, and the humidity.

In general, each coat will take 1-2 days to dry. As soon as the ultimate coat is applied, the polyurethane will take an extra 3-4 weeks to cure fully.