Can You Apply Polyurethane With a Roller?

Yes is the answer to the question, Can You Apply Polyurethane With a Roller? As on this image

Polyurethanes are some of the best wood finishes that you can find in the market today. They add beauty and lustrous look to wooden surfaces such as wooden deck floors, bar table tops, kitchen cabinets, etc. One typical way of applying polyurethane is by use of brush, but can you apply polyurethane with a roller?

Yes, you can use a roller to apply polyurethane finish on a floor and other wooden surfaces. Polyurethane tends to dry faster, and you can use a paint roller or a brush for application. If you use a roller to apply the polyurethane, you get to eliminate possible brush strokes and lines; it also helps to minimize the chances of over-application of the finish.

Rollers do more than removing brush strokes from your wooden surfaces like floors; they also speed up the work as they cover large spaces in not time.

What Kind of Roller do You Use for Polyurethane?

When it comes to the application of polyurethane, most people find it challenging to prevent dust as well as lint from mixing with the final surface finish. Using short lambswool paint rollers or a fiber paint roller, you will get a very smooth finish on your wooden floor.

Can You Put Too Many Coats of Polyurethane?

No! Putting too many coats of polyurethane on the surface of your wooden floor, for example, is likely to make the surface bulge unless you apply it to both sides of the wood as you’d expect, wood breath. So if there is moisture that is exhausted deferentially on one side of the wood would cause the bulging.

How Many Coats of Polyurethane Should I Use?

Apply up to 3 coats of Polyurethane on your wooden floor would be enough to get the job done, especially if you are finishing your surface using an oil-based poly product. During the application process, ensure that you mix polyurethane with the mineral spirits for the very first coat. This coat acts more like a sealer and the barrier between the wood and the oil-based finish that you are using. You need to use a bristle brush to apply this coat.

How to Apply Polyurethane Using a Roller

Step One

Have your latex gloves as well as nose mask on for protection against contact and inhaling of polyurethane chemicals. Add 2 cups of mineral spirits to a paint pan. Add your polyurethane formula in another paint pan next to the one containing the mineral spirits and closer to the surface that you intend to coat.

Step Two

Slowly put the paint roller in the pan containing the mineral spirits and allow the surface of the roller to dampen thoroughly. Shake off any excess mineral spirits so that it is not dripping. The mineral spirits help with the application of polyurethane.

Step Three

Put the same paint roller with the mineral spirits inside the pan of polyurethane and allow the roller to dampen.

Step Four

Roll the polyurethane over the surface of the wood floor that you need to coat. Quickly roll the material over the surface until there is no more polyurethane on the roller.

Step Five

If you have not completely covered the surface with the first coat, then repeat steps 2 through 4 so that you finish the application of the first coat. Allow the polyurethane enough time to dry, paying close attention to the manufacturer’s recommendation on the label.

Step Six

Using a 280-grit or high sandpaper, sand the surface where you are applying the polyurethane to roughen it up in preparation for the second coat of the poly product. Dip a soft cotton clothing into the mineral spirits to dampen it, wring out the excess moneral spirit and use the piece of cloth to wipe the surface to clear it off any loose sand dust.

Step Seven

Once you are through with the application of the first coat, dip the paint roller inside the pan of mineral spirits to dampen it entirely. Shake off any excess mineral spirits. Put your paint roller inside a freezer bag and allow the pan to dry.

Step Eight

For the application of additional coats of polyurethane, ensure that you repeat the steps 2 through 7.

The Clean Up

First Step

Use hot running water to wash your paint roller so that you remove any remaining parts of the polyurethane as well as the mineral spirits off the roller.

Second Step

Remove the dried substances from the pan that contained the mineral spirits; you can use a flathead screwdriver to do so. Follow this by washing the pan using hot running water. Alternatively, you can choose to dispose of the container in your trash bin.

Third Step

In case some polyurethane remains on the paint pan after you are through with all your coat, consider transferring them into a separate can and close the lid tightly. You can then dispose of the pan in your trash bin. Remember not to return the excess polyurethane into the original container as it will make the whole solution thin.

Fourth Step 

Using hot running water, wash the pan that contained the poly formula. You won’t need the pan any time soon; you might consider throwing the pan inside your trash bin.

Fifth Step 

As you might need your tools sooner or later, you need to dry the paint roller as well as the pans using as soft cotton cloth and have them kept in your store or the garage for future use.

Advantages of Using Paint Roller

  • Using a paint roller ensures coverage of a broad surface area of application. A single pass of a paint roller equals several hundreds of brush strokes. 
  • The roller does an excellent job of covering the surface evenly regardless of whether or not the surfaces were initially prepared. 
  • Unlike brushes, paint rollers are designed to work effectively with a good number of modern finishing materials, among them, liquid decorative plaster.
  • Paint rollers do not leave visible smears or strokes on the working surface.

Disadvantages of Paint Roller

  • A quality paint roller costs a lot more than a paintbrush. Even so, if you can buy a replacement cover, then you will have the roller as a valuable tool in the long run.
  • The paint rollers are poor when it comes to the painting of joints, curves, and corners. It means you will need a brush in such cases.


Polyurethane does an excellent job when it comes to adding beauty as well as protection to your wooden floors and other surfaces. That is pretty clear to all now, right? Question though is:

Can You Apply Polyurethane With A Roller?

Yes, you can. Paint rollers do the best job, especially if you are looking to apply polyurethane over large surfaces such as wooden floors. When it comes to speed and saving time, paint rollers work multiple times faster than other application methods like brushes. One shortcoming though, is that rollers are not effective on corners and curves and that the only point where the brush does better.

Here’s a video on applying polyurethane using a roller:

We believe that we have provided you some useful tips regarding the use of paint rollers in the application of polyurethane. Kindly share with us what you think about this post. 

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Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

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