Polyurethane coating | PU paint

polyurethane paint

Durability from PU paint

Polyurethane coatings (PU coating) are usually two component systems which have many protective and decorative purposes. But what is polyurethane paint exactly?  The coating system results from a reaction between a polyol resin (base) and polyisocyanate curing agent (hardener). Polyurethane paint offers a durable, hard and glossy finish which is highly resistant to extreme weather conditions. Compared to other paint solutions it also retains a glossy surface longer; the gloss level, in general, is higher than in normal paints.

Polyurethane paint is especially suitable for applications on surfaces subject to high levels of wear-and-tear and where excellent chemical/physical resistance is required. Polyurethane has a liquid plastic-like structure and it is widely used for protecting floors, woodcraft, and craft projects from scratches, dents and general wearing.

Where to use polyurethane paint?

Polyurethanes are suitable industrial and architectural coatings as finish coats usually over primer and/ or intermediate coats. However, some PU coatings are also applicable as base coats especially for wood. These then together combine the individual coating features to produce long term waterproof, protective coating systems. Suitable substrates include steel work, cladding, concrete and wood.

Polyurethanes are used for example in:

polyurethane paint

On- & offshore structural steel

Automotive interiors and exteriors

pu coating

Commercial transport

polyurethane paint


polyurethane paint

Tunnels & bridges

polyurethane paint

Pipe externals


PU paint advantages

Polyurethane coats typically exhibit the following features and benefits:

  • High gloss level
  • Waterproof surface
  • Tough and abrasion resistant
  • Resistant to weather and UV
  • High heat tolerance: up to 110 degrees Celsius
  • Chemical resistant coating, influenced by neither solvent based spray solutions (graffiti) nor chemicals used for cleaning them

Industrial polyurethane coatings

Polyurethane coatings are used in almost every industry, due to their many advantages. The coatings are especially suitable for areas subject to wear and tear in forms of chemicals, abrasion or corrosion. However, poly coatings are also applicable on printed circuit boards as conformal coating.polyurethane coating for wood

Polyurethane coating for wood

PU coatings are most often applied on metal and concrete, however, they are also suitable for wood and fiber surfaces. The applications on wood include for example furniture and worktops. Polyurethane coatings for wood exist as different products. For example

  • Clear & pigmented basecoats
  • Clear topcoats (matt and glossy)
  • Pigmented topcoats (matt and glossy)
  • Waxy topcoats
  • Metallic and pearl effect topcoats
  • Wood sealers & melamine paper foils
  • Acrylic base & top coats

Additionally, polyurethane foam for fire safety and insulation is suitable for bonding wooden surfaces.

Polyurethane paint protects cars

Many coatings contain polyurethanes due to the many advantages. Therefore, the polyurethane paint is also suitable for cars. It protects the surface from various types of pollution and corrosion. It thus makes the coating last longer and the car to retain its looks.polyurethane coating

PU paint for consumers

PU paint is also available for consumers, generally, in three types. These paints are traditionally, two component systems, however, 1 pot systems also exist. The latter are user friendlier and easier to apply.


PU paintWater based

Waterborne polyurethane is the best choice for projects where no exposure to heat or cleaning products is present. It creates a clear layer which protects the newly created surface. It dries faster than the oil-based version, but it can also be more expensive.Water-based polyurethane is available as a clear coat for interiors and as a spar urethane for exteriors.

Application: Use a synthetic-filament brush or buy the aerosol spray to apply three coats of either clear polyurethane or spar urethane. Clear polyurethane takes two hours to dry between coats, while spar urethane takes four hours.

Oil based

PU paintOil-based polyurethane paint is cheaper and more durable than its waterborne alternative. Use it to protect projects you expect to come into contact with heat or chemicals. Your craft project will need fewer coats of oil-based polyurethane because the paint contains 15 to 20 percent more polyurethane solids than water-based polyurethane. However, it also leaves a yellowish tint behind, which might be undesirable for certain projects. Oil-based polyurethane comes in several forms: interior wipe-on, stain-and-poly combo, high-build, fast-drying and exterior spar urethane.

Application: Apply three coats of the wipe-on form with a lint-free cloth. Each coat needs 2 to 3 hours to dry. Use a natural bristle brush to apply two coats of either the stain-and-poly combo, high-build or fast-drying polyurethane, after waiting four to six hours between coats. Spar urethane takes four hours to dry between coats. Apply it using a synthetic-filament brush or purchase the aerosol spray.

polyurethane coatingWater based, oil modified

Water-based, oil-modified polyurethane is a hybrid mix of oil- and water-based polyurethane. It is more durable than regular water-based polyurethane ant it  comes in a brush-on and a wipe-on form.

Application: Apply three coats of the brush-on form using a synthetic filament brush or spray. Each coat takes two hours to dry. Apply three coats of the wipe-on form using a lint-free cloth. Also these coats take two to three hours to dry each.

Is PU paint safe?

Paints generally contain a mixture of solvents and additives that can cause health problems if handled inappropriately. Polyurethanes are cured using a poly-isocyanate curing agent, which contains a small proportion of isocyanate monomer, which is a small, but potentially significant hazard if handled inappropriately.  If handled responsibly, like any solvent-borne paint, polyurethane paints are quite safe to use. However, one should wear appropriate protection during application. This includes gloves, coveralls, mask and safety boots in some applications.

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