How To Speed Up Polyurethane Drying Time (4 Practical Methods)

Most woodworking enthusiasts or wood professionals are familiar with Polyurethane. It is often used on countertops or laminate floors to help preserve the beautiful wood finish for many years. Furthermore, the Polyurethane layer also adds shine to help floors and wooden surfaces stand out.

The hard part comes when waiting for the Polyurethane finish to dry and cure. Of course, you can wait for it to dry naturally, and that is the best. However, there are several ways to speed up the drying process of Polyurethane. So let’s find out how to speed up Polyurethane drying time.

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How Long Does It Take For Polyurethane to Dry?

The time it takes for Polyurethane to dry depends on each type, including oil-based and water-based Polyurethane.

1. The Oil-Based Polyurethane

For oil-based polyurethane, you need to wait up to 24 hours after application. From 24-48 hours after application on wood, you can move over the Polyurethane surface with your socks. During this time, you must not wear shoes or use bare feet to move on the surface of the Polyurethane layer. Also, it is essential to keep your pet away from this area.

After 48 hours, it is possible to move on the surface with your shoes. After a few days, you can move the furniture back to your room. However, allow your pet to return to your room after at least another two weeks.

2. The Water-Based Polyurethane

In general, water-based Polyurethane products dry faster than their oil-based counterparts.

It is possible to walk on the Polyurethane finish after about 6 hours on wood surfaces. Of course, this is only available when you are wearing socks. After 24 hours, you can move on the surface with your shoes. You can move the furniture back to the room in about two days. It is a good idea to bring pets back in at least another week.

Factors Affecting the Drying and Curing Time of Polyurethane Finishes

As mentioned above, the drying time of Polyurethane depends on the type of Polyurethane you use. Here are some other factors that also significantly affect the drying and curing time of Polyurethane.

1. Wood Type

As we all know, crosslinking influences the drying and curing time of the Polyurethane layer. So, Aromatic cedars and Rosewood are not perfect choices for flooring because it takes a long time for crosslinking to occur. On the other hand, some woods enhance the drying and curing time of the Polyurethane finish.

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2. Wood Surface

The Polyurethane finish will dry quickly on a well-sanded wood surface because it absorbs the layer of the poly finish faster.

3. Temperature and Humidity

The higher the temperature, the faster the Polyurethane finish dries. Conversely, the higher the humidity, the longer it takes for the Polyurethane finish to dry.

4 Methods To Speed Up Polyurethane Drying Time

1. Use Water-Based Polyurethane

As mentioned above, water-based Polyurethane dries faster than oil-based Polyurethane. So, if you need to finish wood furniture quickly, it is best to work with water-based Polyurethane. It will dry and not be tacky about six hours after application on the wood surface; You can move freely on the finished surface with socks.

After your Polyurethane dries, you can also start the next steps like sanding, applying a second coat. Finally, after two days, your wood is ready to use; It is possible to walk barefoot on the finished surface and move furniture back to your room.

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2. Use a Thinner

The addition of thinner may cause polyurethane to dry faster. One of the best thinning options for Polyurethane is Naphtha because it evaporates faster than Turpentine or Spirit.

3. Increased Temperature

The higher the temperature, the faster the Polyurethane dries. Hence, increasing the heat is one of the ideal ways to speed up the drying time of Polyurethane. Therefore, it is wise to use hair-dryers, heat lamps, or space heaters to make wood dry faster after applying Polyurethane.

4. Reduce Humidity

In addition to increasing the temperature, you can also reduce the humidity to shorten the drying time of Polyurethane on wood. One of the best ways is to use room dehumidifiers to ensure a steady low humidity in your work area.

Important Notes

  • It is essential to wear gloves and a work suit when working with Polyurethane.
  • Oil-based Polyurethane is more durable than water-based Polyurethane. However, water-based Polyurethane is more expensive.
  • Oil-based Polyurethane Thus, try and keep fire sources away from your work area. What’s more, avoid smoking when working with Polyurethane.
  • Oil-based Polyurethane releases toxic fumes while drying and curing. These toxic fumes may contain volatile organic compounds that can cause respiratory complications for you. Therefore, keep all windows and doors open when working with it.
  • In most cases, water-based Polyurethane is odorless. However, it is best to be careful when working with it.
  • Immediately after complete curing, Polyurethane becomes safe for human use.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What should I do if the Polyurethane does not dry?

In general, Oil-Based Polyurethane will dry more slowly than its water-based counterpart; the reason is the oily composition that makes it unable to dry quickly.

If your polyurethane finish is difficult to dry, the cause is not necessarily in your Polyurethane. Instead, the problem could be because your wood contains natural oils that make it take longer to dry. To overcome this situation, you can increase the temperature with a heater or a dryer. This method will speed up the drying process.

2. Is Polyurethane challenging to apply?

In general, applying Polyurethane is quite tricky, especially for beginners. Polyurethane must be applied with a brush in long, even strokes. Hence, if your skills are not good, you will get bad results.

3. Is Polyurethane toxic?

Polyurethane contains some toxins in its composition. Therefore, you need to take some safety measures to avoid any risk of contamination or adverse health effects.

It is best to limit contact with polyurethane products. Also, make sure that your room comes with good ventilation.

4. How long does it take for the Polyurethane smell to go away?

You may have to wait up to 2 days for the Polyurethane smell to disappear completely.

As we already know, Polyurethane can contain volatile organic chemicals which can be harmful to your health. Therefore, work with it where there is proper ventilation and plan accordingly for the drying time.

5. Are two layers of Polyurethane enough?

It is best to use at least two layers of Polyurethane on your floor.

6. What is the best polyurethane drying temperature?

The drying time of Polyurethane depends mainly on temperature and humidity. The best temperature for drying Polyurethane is around 77 degrees F. Also, the humidity should be around 50%.

If you want to speed up Polyurethane drying time, try increasing the temperature using hair-dryers, heat lamps, or space heaters.

Conclusion

Hopefully, àter reading this article, you have grasped some valuable tips on how to speed up Polyurethane drying time.

In general, humidity and temperature are essential factors to adjust to speed up polyurethane drying time. In addition, using water-based Polyurethane is also perfect if you are very impatient to wait for oil-based Polyurethane’s drying and curing time.