How Durable Is Polyurethane?

Updated April 22, 2024

Oil-based polyurethane is a great finish for solid wood furniture. It's hard, durable, and scratch-resistant. Let's dive deeper into why polyurethane is a favored choice for preserving the beauty and integrity of wood over time.

Polyurethane: A Shield Against Wear and Tear

Polyurethane offers a robust layer of protection that guards wood furniture against water, stains, and scratches. Its durability is one of its most celebrated attributes, making it an ideal finish for pieces that see daily use.

Benefits of Polyurethane

Here are a few of our favorite things about oil-based polyurethane:

  1. Resistance to Water and Spills: Unlike other finishes, polyurethane creates a barrier that repels water, preventing damage from spills and condensation. Say goodbye to coasters!
  2. Minimizes Dents and Scratches: The hard nature of polyurethane reduces the appearance of dents and scratches, preserving the furniture's aesthetic appeal over time.
  3. Longevity: Polyurethane finishes do not require frequent additional coats like some oil finishes, saving you time and effort in maintenance. 

Enhancing Service Life with Proper Care

To maximize the service life of your polyurethane-finished furniture, consider the following tips:

If something is too hot to hold, you'll want to put down a hot pad or trivet, like with most surfaces. You can also damage your top if you spill something chemically abrasive on it, like fingernail polish remover. You don't want to use harsh chemicals to clean your table, as that may wear down the finish over the years. We recommend a wet rag or a wet soapy rag for cleaning - but you can use any cleaning product intended for wood surfaces. 

Please note, our Barn Wood finish is our only color that uses a water-based polyurethane. We can't achieve that color while using an oil-based polyurethane. While still durable, it is a little more delicate and coasters are recommended. Every other finish color we have uses our oil-based polyurethane. 

We use a satin/low sheen finish by default. We find this low sheen looks the best on real, solid wood furniture and is easier to keep clean and smudge-free than higher gloss finishes. 

Polyurethane Is Durable. Trust Us, We’d Know

We invite about 200 kids each December to come paint ornaments on our showroom tables. We also provide drinks and snacks. At the end of the day, all we do is wipe down the tables we're ready to re-open the store the next day. I'm not sure any other furniture store openly invites kids to paint at their showroom each year ;) 

Comparing Polyurethane with Other Finishes

While polyurethane stands out for its durability, how does it compare with other popular finishes like shellac and water-based options?

  • Polyurethane vs. Shellac: Shellac, derived from natural resin, offers a classic look but is less resistant to water and alcohol, making polyurethane a more durable option for surfaces exposed to moisture and wear.
  • Water-Based Polyurethane: Although water-based polyurethane is less odorous and dries faster, it may not offer the same level of durability as its oil-based counterpart. However, it's a viable option for those seeking a lower-VOC finish.

The Enduring Appeal of Polyurethane

So, how durable is polyurethane? Exceptionally so, it is an excellent choice for families, busy households, and anyone seeking longevity and beauty in their wood furniture. Its ability to withstand the rigors of daily life while maintaining a pristine appearance is unparalleled.

If you have any questions about our finishes, please call (479-633-7557), text, or email - Whether you're curious about additional coats, service after purchase, or simply want to learn more about our finishes, we'd be happy to help!

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