Polycyclic vs. Polyurethane

Have a woodworking project and thinking about how to make it look best and last long?

Well, you need to apply a finish coat that is shiny for your wood product to look best and it should also be waterproof to protect against the impact of water for durability.

There are so many finish coats that can achieve this. The commonly and readily available at any hardware store are the polycyclic and polyurethane.

But where and when should you apply the other one and not the other?

By knowing the differences between them, you can easily have an answer to that confusion. Luckily enough, we are going to compare this two finishing substances for you.

You will then have a better understanding of the differences between them. After that, you will have to make your decision.

Let us set our boat sailing.

What Is Polyurethane?

Polyurethane is a wood finishing product that comes with protection features. This protective finisher comes either as glossy or satin. You will also find water based and oil based Polyurethane.

The water-based one is known for its low toxic cause and odor. It is also transparent than its neighbor, the oil-based Polyurethane and can dry faster.

Some Applications Of Polyurethane

The Polyurethane, particularly the water-based version is ideal for products that will not be exposed to rigid or extreme temperatures. This makes it only suitable for products such as side tables, picture frames, desks, and bookcases.

The oil-based version which is durable compared to its neighbor (water-based version) and can withstand higher temperatures, makes it suitable to be applied to products that are exposed to higher heat temperatures.

It can be applied to substances like wood kitchen tables, wood kitchen carpets, kitchen cabinets and so forth. However, it can leave behind a yellow tint on these substances when exposed to extreme temperatures.

Now, let us look at its twin sister.

What Is Polycrylic?

Polycrylic is not far different from polyurethane. Unlike its twin sister that has both water based and oil based version, this one only has a water-based version. The Polycrylic is very suitable for surfaces that face many cruelties as it creates a hard and durable finish.

It leaves behind a clear coat, and even on exposure to high temperatures, it can’t leave behind a yellow tint like what the oil based version of polyurethane does.

So this should be your choice if you consider having a yellow tint on your beautiful furniture.

Furthermore, as it is water based and it dries up quickly, works well over latex paint and stays runny causing cracks when dry.

Some Applications Of Polycrylic

Polycrylic has a broader application. As it gives good protection on a variety of wood surfaces, it can be used on various indoor furniture. It can also be applied to doors or low impact furniture’s.

What About Their Differences?

On deep analysis of polycyclic and polyurethane, you will notice that they have many similarities than differences. These two products are intended to give protection to wood surfaces.

However, they differ in the level of protection and many other things. Below, find some of their differences.

Different Versions

For polyurethane, you will make choices over versions as it comes either as water based or oil based. Polycyclic only comes as water-based. There is no oil based version of polycyclic.

Different Levels Of Durability

The oil-based version of polyurethane is more durable, and that is why is usually preferred to be applied to most outdoor furniture, unlike the polycyclic.

Its water-based version is just like the polycyclic.


You have kids, right? You need a version that will pose few safety risks.so which one should you choose when safety is your key consideration.

Well, Polyurethane has toxic substances such as VOC that are very dangerous to lungs. During its application, one must wear a proper mask to be protected against this toxic substance.

Polyurethane oil based version is also highly flammable and it ought to be stored with care.

For the polycyclic that is water based, it hardly has toxic causing elements, and it is non-flammable. This makes it safer than polyurethane.

The Application

Yes, you need to apply them, if you want to have their protective capability. However, these two wood finishing products also have some differences in their application.

Polyurethane is much easier to be applied, and its application can be achieved just by the use of sprayer or paint brush.

Response To Some Of The Commonly Asked Questions

At this point, you might be having some questions that are minding you. Below we respond to some of the inquiries from our readers and those wishing to buy either or both of these two products.

Between Polyurethane And Polycyclic, Which one Is Cheaper?

You need to save on cash, and then go for a polycyclic or water-based version of polyurethane. The oil-based version of polyurethane will cost you higher compared to either its water-based version or polycyclic.

Which One Should I Choose For Faster Application Process When I Have Limited Time?

When you have limited time, and you need to protect your furniture, you should go for polycyclic. It dries faster, easy to clean thus will not less of time. However, it is hard to apply.

I Have Larger Furniture Pieces, Which One Should I Choose?

If you have larger furniture pieces and you need to achieve precise finishing, and then water-based version of polyurethane will work for you. It is easy to apply and will give you time as it will dry quickly.

Wrapping Up

It is clear that both polyurethane and polycyclic will achieve the protection purpose for your furniture.However, you can’t apply for all of them on one product.

So you need to make a selection and settle on one. With polyurethane coming and available in two different versions, either water-based or oil-based, go for the one that will suit your furniture, basing on where you will use your furniture.

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