Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Furniture Painting Tips: Polycrylic vs Polyurethane

Let me start off by saying...I ain't no furniture painting expert.  I'm just a girl, a SAHM, a wife, and DIYer who can't sit still so I started painting furniture.  And then I started selling my painted furniture...and with each piece I paint, I learn more and more about painting furniture.

One of the biggest quandaries I had was about finishes and top coats.   People always say 'poly' and my question is always 'poly what??'  I think most people assume polyurethane, but there is a time and place for polycrylic, too!

I have found they are both essential in painting furniture - sometimes on the same piece.  It was
recently when I was selecting my finishes for a piece with a stained top and a painted base that I realized sometimes the two must have a play date.

And so since I think I have finally wrapped my head around many of the pros and cons of both, I thought I would share what I have learned and that way others may have an easier time deciding the answer to "Polyurethane vs Polycryclic?"

Now, considering the above - here is why I went with both polys for this painted piece.  Whenever stain is involved I almost always go with polyurethane...due to the durability and because they are both oil based.  Oil and water aren't always the best of friends, so if you can stay with an oil based stain and an oil based top coat (and same with the water) I like to do that.

Because the rest of the piece was painted - and painted white - I switched to polycrylic.  The two big reasons for that are: I didn't want the white paint to get a yellow tint and the paint is water-based.

Now, here's something to consider.  A few piece I have painted I have done stain over paint to create an aging effect.  On these pieces I use polyurethane as the top coat due to the oil-based stain - and ALSO because they were not white, so I was not as concerned about yellowing.

Painted, then oil-based stained, then polyurethane finish
So, as you can see, there is not one standard answer when it comes to the question 'Should I finish with polycrylic or polyurethane?'   It all depends on: 1) how the piece will be used (high traffic pieces like a kitchen table - go with the more durable finish of polyurethane but a white painted nightstand in a master bedroom I pick polycrylic), 2) the other products you've used on the piece, and 3) if yellowing is a concern.

So now that that's settled...head on over and check out my tips on refinishing furniture to sell!

Thanks for stopping by 2IY! If you like what you see, we'd love for you to pin it!

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