How Long Does Polyurethane Take To Cure? | 3 Main Factors

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Polyurethane can protect your floors and woodwork from damages using quality products correctly. No matter what type of polyurethane you use, you’ll surely see the benefit in the long run. From fungus to mildew, polyurethane can make your floor resistant to these harmful elements. 

That’s about the good stuff about polyurethane. But the question remains, how long does it take to cure properly? Well, this article is all about the curing period of polyurethane despite the polyurethane type & weather conditions.

What Is Polyurethane Varnish?

The varnish version of polyurethane is a liquid coating used on cabinets, floors & any woodworks. You’ve to use a brush to apply polyurethane properly. This special kind of synthetic resin protects the applied areas from water, fungus & mildew. Also, it helps them become abrasion-resistant.

How much time will it take Polyurethane To Cure
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How Long Does Polyurethane Take To Cure?

Polyurethane takes around four weeks or one month to cure perfectly. The curing happens when the polyurethane’s molecules chemically react with oxygen. However, different types of polyurethane take different periods to cure & I’ll discuss them thoroughly in the next segment. Before that, take a look at the type of polyurethane available in the market:

  • Oil-Based Polyurethane 
  • Water-Based Polyurethane 

Oil-Based Polyurethane

Oil-based polyurethane acts as the shield of the wooden floor. If you use quality products in the right way, oil-based polyurethane will perform well for a longer period. However, it’s worth mentioning that oil-based polyurethane emits odour & the finish is a bit yellowish. Also, this type of polyurethane is highly flammable & that’s why you should be well-equipped while applying oil-based polyurethane on the floor. 

How Do You Know If Oil-Based Polyurethane Is Dry?

Oil-based polyurethane should be dried within 24 to 48 hours. To know whether or not your oil-based polyurethane is dried or not, check these things below:

  • The coating won’t emit any odour after the drying period
  • The coating won’t feel tacky while touching or walking on it

How Long Does Oil-Based Polyurethane Take To Cure?

Oil-based polyurethane on any floor takes at least 30 days to cure. You’ll surely see wrinkles on the floor if you move your furniture before this period. To safely speed up the process, you can use a blow dryer or room heater to increase the room temperature. 

Water-Based Polyurethane

Unlike Oil-based polyurethane, water-based polyurethane gives you a clear & transparent finishing. So after the drying period, you’ll find a water-like (clear) finishing on the floor & it will stay clear forever. The other plus point of water-based polyurethane is, it doesn’t cause any toxic odour. That’s why you can work with this polyurethane without using safety equipment like face masks & goggles. 

How Do You Know If Water-Based Polyurethane Is Dry?

Water-based polyurethane takes about four to six hours to dry properly. To know whether or not your water-based polyurethane is dried or not, check these things below:

How Long Does Water-Based Polyurethane Take To Cure?

Water-based polyurethane takes 30 days to cure properly. After that period, you can bring back your furniture to your room. However, if you’re in a rush & want to do everything as soon as possible – giving two weeks for the curing is still a good option.

Factors That Controls The Curing & Drying Time Of Polyurethane

Many factors influence the curing & drying time of polyurethane. Follow the next segment to know them briefly: 

The Wood Type 

Some wood’s existing chemicals make it harder for the crosslinking of oxygen & polyurethane molecules. This thing causes longer curing time & an example of this type of wood is rosewood. 

The Polyurethane Type

As I’ve mentioned above, different types of polyurethane take different time to dry & cure properly. For example – water-based polyurethane takes roughly 4 to 6 hours to dry & 14 to 30 days for the curing. In comparison, oil-based polyurethane takes 24 to 48 hour to dry and 30 days for curing. 

Temperature & Humidity 

70°F is the standard temperature along with a humidity level of 70%. If the weather temperature somehow increases, it will take less time for the drying & curing. The opposite thing will happen if it’s cold outside or inside.

Tips: Always find yourself the Best Polyurethane for various purposes such as applying it on tabletops. This will ensure your applying surface good durability and fill all the purpose of your need.

Frequently Asked Question – FAQ

How Can I Make Polyurethane Dry Faster?

You can make polyurethane dry faster by increasing the room temperature via a room heater or blow dryer. Generally, polyurethane takes 4 hours to 48 hours to cure properly, depending on the polyurethane type. If you increase the temperature from a standard 70° F or 21°C, you’ll surely notice a boost in the drying period. 

How Long Does Oil Based Polyurethane Take To Cure?

Oil-based polyurethane takes 30 days or four weeks to cure. You shouldn’t walk barefooted or move your furniture before this timeline. Unlike water-based polyurethane, there’s no chance of rushing things before the 30 days period. Instead, you should wait & let the curing happen properly.

How Bad Is Breathing In Polyurethane?

The oil-based polyurethane will emit odour till its curing. The inhalation of these odours can cause asthma and other breathing issues. Continuing living on an uncured floor could be dangerous & will cause issues like nausea, headaches, eye irritation, shortness of breath and coughing. 

How Long Will Polyurethane Smell Last?

The smell should be gone within 5 to 7 from the applying date. Though you won’t smell a heavy toxic smell after 5 to 7 days, you may smell a mild odour for the next 30 days. To speed up the smell removal process, you can increase the airflow of the room by opening windows & keeping the home warmer than usual. 

What Is The Best Temperature For Polyurethane To Dry?

The best temperature for polyurethane to dry is 70° F or 21°C. Talking about the humidity, it should be around 50 to 70%. If you want your floor’s polyurethane coating to dry faster, you can consider increasing the heat with a room heater or blow dryer.


This article covers the curing period of both water-based & oil-based polyurethane. On the whole, both types of polyurethane take around 30 days to dry properly. However, you can start your work (Moving furniture from here & there, walking barefooted) within 14 days if you’re using water-based polyurethane. 

On the other hand, you can’t & shouldn’t do anything before that 30 days if you’re using oil-based polyurethane. Whatever you’re using, make sure the temperature is at least 70° F & the humidity level is around 50-70% to avoid a lengthy & unusual curing period.

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