When To Use Polycrylic, Polyurethane or Furniture Wax
February 28, 2017
(In the spirit of full disclosure, there may be affiliate links in this article, which means that I may get a commission if you decide to purchase anything through those links. I only recommend products & services that I use and love myself, so I know you’ll be in good hands.)
One of the top questions we are asked has to do with sealing our furniture projects. People like you want to know, when do you use Polycrylic? When do you use Polyurethane? Or why would I use Wax?
We're going to look at each option and give you some practical applications.
Polycrylic is a water based sealer. You can get a variety of finishes with Polycrylic: Matte, Satin or Gloss. It can be applied with a paint or foam brush.
Quick Drying Time
Water-based for easy clean up
Creates a hard finish
No lingering oder
It requires some patience so you don't end up with bubbles or brush strokes
We typically use Polycrylic on Tables, Chairs, Coffee Tables, Console Tables, etc... Anything that will have heavy traffic requires a hard finish. You'll want your paint or stain finish to last a long time. Polycrylic is a staple for our business.
Polyurethane is a harder finish than Polycrylic. It can come with a Satin or Gloss Finish. It can be applied with a paint or foam brush. If you're sealing a large area, you might use a paint roller.
Quick Drying Time
Water-based or Oil-Based applications
Creates a more durable finish then Polycrylic
Watch for Bubbles or Paint Strokes
Some Polyurethanes can yellow over a white, cream or light paint finish
For more durability, you might opt for a Polyurethane finish to your projects. The applications for this product tend to be Hardwood Floors, Table Tops, etc...
Furniture Wax, like Amy Howard's Wax product line, allows you to add additional color or depth to your finished painted projects. Clear Wax will easily seal a project. Using Colored Wax, such as Light Antiquing Wax, Dark Antiquing Wax, Black Wax or a different color), offers you an opportunity to add an "antiqued" faux finish to trim, recessed areas or to the overall look of a piece. They can typically be applied with a Brush or Rag. Furniture Wax gives a very soft silky finish to your piece.
Allows for a great deal of creative options
Quick Dry Time
A little goes a long way
Soft silky finish
It takes a little practice to perfect certain looks with the Darker Waxes
May need to be reapplied periodically
Can't use anything but a damp rag to clean (ie no cleaning solutions)
We love to use Furniture Wax on dressers, side tables, beds, picture frames, small decorative items, etc... It can take some practice, but the finish is definitely worth it.
Sealing your project piece will definitely ensure your finish will last for a very long time. Although there are other sealing options, Polycrylic, Polyurethane and Furniture Wax are the most frequently used by most DIYer's.