can you put polyurethane over polycrylic
Kristina Davis

I’ve thought about this for a while now, but can you put polyurethane over polycrylic effectively? Wouldn’t it have negative effects on each other?

Being a dedicated DIY homeowner, I like finding stuff out.

So, I did my research about putting polyurethane over polycrylic coating, and vice versa – lo and behold, I was ecstatic with what I found!

Yes, it’s possible and safe to use polyurethane over polycrylic (and vice versa) on your wooden furniture or woodworking pieces. Doing so enhances the wood’s protection from scratches, abrasion, and other similar types of damage.

To understand it a bit more, let me go over what these 2 products are, what they’re for, and how you can use them to your advantage.

Doing so will allow you to understand the purpose of applying one over the other.

What is Polyurethane?

the polyurethane

Polyurethane is a polymer that’s applied to substrates and wooden projects to protect and secure them.

Ideally, polyurethane is a finish that’s done to protect the wood from abrasion, weathering, corrosion, and deterioration.

Polyurethane can either be water or oil-based. It belongs to the carbamate compound and can produce a wide range of finishes, from glossy, opaque, or transparent to muted and even matte.

It’s used for wooden surfaces because of the strength and protection they offer.

What is Polycrylic?

Out of the many different types and kinds of wood coating you can use, polycrylic is a formula that has an acrylic base and is used to protect the wood.

what is the polycrylic

The typical structure of polycrylic is water-based, but there are oil-based polycrylic coatings you can purchase, too.

Tip: Finishing your wooden furniture or wood project with polycrylic can result in a glossy, shiny, and protected feel. It isn’t as strong and durable as polyurethane, though.

So, you should refrain from using it for outdoor or exterior applications.

What Are Their Differences?

Polyurethane and polycrylic are both protective coatings for wood. However, they’re not the same.

They have similarities, yes, and it’s not like they are totally different products.

their differences

Both of them are used on wood, their purpose is to reinforce and enhance the wood, and they’re both available in water and oil-based forms.

So, how are these two materials and products different?

Finished Product/Results

When finished, polyurethane gives off a slightly amber tone, so it’s not a great finish for white wood.

On the contrary, polycrylic gives off a yellowish type of surface, which wouldn’t alter or change the appearance of the wooden surface.

Note: Polyurethane is more recommended for wooden surfaces that are dark, while polycrylic is for light-colored surfaces.

Drying Time

the drying time

Another difference is the drying time. Drying out polyurethane would take anywhere between 24 and 48 hours, whereas polycrylic dries in 30 minutes to 1 hour.

This is because polyurethane needs to seep into the exterior wood fibers first in order to dry and be effective.


Lastly, they do not have the same level of viscosity. By nature, polyurethane is thicker and easier to work with than polycrylic.

The latter is thinner, and is usually more prone to dripping, so you need to ensure that you’ll be working in a safe environment.

Now that you know these things, can you put polycrylic over polyurethane? Would it be possible to apply these 2 different coatings on top of one another?

Can You Put Polyurethane Over Polycrylic?

I won’t bore you with all the details you will never need and use, so, to answer the question straightforwardly and directly,

Yes, you can put and apply polyurethane on polycrylic, and vice versa.

 polyurethane over polycrylic

Many people claim that this is untrue simply because the materials are made from 2 different substances, but that is actually fine! 

Don’t worry – I searched and looked for information about this deep enough so that I can help handymen like you handle things like this on your own.

While some people claim that you can’t directly coat and apply them on top of one another because they wouldn’t stick, many homeowners were able to find success in doing so.

This recoating or extra-coating procedure is effective in ensuring that your wood is protected, and at the same time, kept stylish and fashionable, too.

Your question, can you put oil-based polyurethane over water-based polycrylic, has now been debunked! You don’t need to worry about it any longer!

Why Put Polyurethane Over Polycrylic and Vice Versa?

polyurethane over polycrylic and vice versa

If you think about it, it’s difficult to grasp the idea of why you need 2 types of coating on your wooden project.

However, many woodworking virtuosos and experts argue that putting water-based or oil-based polycrylic over oil or water-based polyurethane is good, for various reasons.

I found out that there are a couple of benefits and advantages to doing this:

Better and More Effective Protection

Don’t get me wrong, polycrylic is such a wonderful product. It enhances the look, the overall state, and the condition of the wood.

In addition to that, it also protects it from basic and initial damages, but its protection isn’t as strong and durable as polyurethane.

So, applying polyurethane over polycrylic increases and enhances its protection from water, corrosion, weathering, and abrasion.

It Looks Better and Shinier

better and shinier

Applying polyurethane to your polycrylic wooden furniture can improve and let the shine and color out more.

Do not doubt the effectiveness of either polyurethane or polycrylic alone because they are.

You can apply polyurethane or polycrylic alone and it can give the shine and glow you’re looking for.

But coating it with another layer of oil or water-based polyurethane can give it a better, shinier, and more glowing color.

You’ll find it better, stronger, and more attractive if you use both.

It’ll Help Withstand Pressure and Impact

Last, but definitely not least would be the resistance and strength that polyurethane provides.

withstand pressure and impact

This plastic-like coating is enough to ensure that your wooden projects won’t deteriorate easily because of external factors like water, moisture, and scratches – among many things.

Polycrylic is a coating you can use for protection, but it’s not enough to transform your wooden project into something that can withstand impact, stress, and pressure.

These are just some of the top benefits and advantages of applying and putting polyurethane over a polycrylic-applied wooden surface.

On a personal note, I have experienced all of this firsthand, so, you don’t have to question whether or not they’re true.

And just like me, many people also found success in applying polyurethane over polycrylic surfaces.

Do You Need to Sand Polycrylic Surfaces First Before Applying Polyurethane?

sand polycrylic surfaces

Are there any preparations you need before applying polyurethane to polycrylic?

As much as we want everything to be simple and easy, yes, there are a couple of preparations you need beforehand.

Before applying polyurethane over polycrylic, sand the polycrylic surface or layer down first before applying any type of urethane finish.

After that, remove the dust and debris that has been the product of sanding, and you’re now good to go!

What Type of Brush Should I Use to Apply Polyurethane Over Polycrylic?

There’s actually no rule on the type of brush you can use in applying polyurethane on a polycrylic surface and vice versa.

However, many experts recommend using soft synthetic bristle brushes.

These brushes are made from either polyester or nylon and are the best for applying both water and oil-based polyurethane. They stick better, and the strokes will be clearer and thicker.


popular questions

For further information about it, here are a few of the most asked questions about applying or putting polyurethane on polycrylic.

What Will Happen If I Don’t Sand Between Coats of Polycrylic?

Failure to sand between different polycrylic layers and coats will make each layer of coating weak and easy to fall off.

The topcoats would not properly stick and adhere to the base because of the texture and roughness of the wooden surface.

Will One Coat of Polycrylic Be Enough?

No, a single coat of polycrylic wouldn’t be enough to protect the wooden surface or improve its appearance. Experts recommend at least 3 coats of polycrylic.

Recoating should be done within one and a half hours. If you can’t do it within this time period, wait for 72 hours, lightly sand, and then recoat.

Final Thoughts

So, can you put polyurethane over polycrylic?

Yes, you can!

In fact, many experts recommend applying it over a polycrylic surface because of the added strength, resistance, and protection without compromising the quality of the wood.

If you’ve been thinking about it for quite some time now and you’re uncertain, take this as your sign and do the project!