How Many Coats of Polyurethane

Image of Polyurethane floor, How Many Coats of Polyurethane do you need?

Polyurethane is one of the most beautiful finishes that you can give your wooden structures such as floors, tabletops, kitchen cabinets, etc. In most cases, polyurethane gives a lovely glossy finish and offer protection at the same time. If you can apply the right amount of polyurethane, you will end up with an excellent finish; this leads to the question, how many coats of polyurethane do you need?

To protect your surface, apply at least two coats of polyurethane. For surfaces that will see occasional and hard wear, such as the floor should have a minimum of three layers.

Choosing to apply between 2-3 layers of polyurethane formula on your surface depends entirely on the use of your structure.

How Long Should I Wait Between Coats of Polyurethane?

Thin your polyurethane formula using paint thinner- thinning allows for the faster drying of the finish. Apply the first coat to your surface. After about 24 hours of drying time, sand the dried first coat of polyurethane using very fine-grit sandpaper.

Note: Some of the best paint thinners include: Mona Lisa Odorless and theEpifanes Polyurethane Thinner for Spray.

Apply the second coat of polyurethane after sanding and cleaning the first layer. When you are applying polyurethane, ensure that you brush along the grain, and stretching the polyurethane into as thin a coat as you can. After applying this second layer, allow your surface about 24 to 48 hours to dry before sanding, if you choose to add another layer. 

Do You Sand the Final Coat of Polyurethane?

No, you are not supposed to sand the final coat. Instead, it would be best if you sprayed it or spread it in a nice and level way. You should ensure that you sand the previous coats so that you create a perfectly level and even base for your final coat

How to Remove Brush Marks From a Polyurethane Finish

If you treat your surface using polyurethane, you will likely notice brush marks. Do you experience these marks even if you try to minimize them? Don’t worry as there are a few steps you need to follow to ensure that you get a polyurethane finish with no brush marks. The steps are

Step One

Use fine-grit sandpaper to sand down the brush marks lightly, ensure that you are applying even pressure to the area while you sand.

Step Two

Use a soft cloth to brush the sanded area to remove all traces of dirt and grit due to sanding. If these particles get under your finish, they may end up ruining the entire project.

Step Three

Apply your polyurethane finish lightly to the brush, ensuring that you wipe off any extra formula to ensure that the surface does not receive the excess finish.

Step Four

Apply your finish to the sanded area in a gentle manner with as few brush strokes as possible. You may have to apply many light coats to achieve your desired finish, even so, this is a better way of avoiding the application of too much poly. If you notice that the coating is too thick, you can use a rag to lightly wipe at the area until you achieve an even surface. Give your polyurethane finish enough time to dry.

Step Five

Assess your dried polyurethane finish for brush marks. If there are some, re-sand the structure.

How Long Does Polyurethane Take to Dry?

Well, an oil-based polyurethane would require about 24 hours to dry. The water-based poly, on the other hand, needs just about 6 hours to dry to touch or to be ready for slight traffic.

Watch the video below if you want to speed up the drying of polyurethane:

What is the Best Temperature for Polyurethane to Dry?

77°F is the best temperature for your polyurethane finish to dry. It is essential to know that the said dry time above depends on proper ventilation, the temperature of 77°F and 50% of relative humidity. 

Reduced temperatures, increased humidity, poor ventilation, and thick coats will prolong the drying times of your polyurethane finish. You will likely notice a slight ambering especially when you apply the polyurethane finish over light-colored wood surfaces

How Long Does it Take a Fast-Drying Polyurethane to Cure?

It will take up to 30 days for your polyurethane floor to cure; therefore, it would help if you allow the surface 30 days before you start putting the area rugs over the surface. If you are looking to have your rugs back a little sooner, you should give the surface for about 2 weeks; even so, 30 days is better.

Why is My Polyurethane Not Drying?

If you notice that your polyurethane finish still feels sticky 48 hours following its application, then there’s every possibility that the wood has natural oils that hinders the drying of the formula. In most cases, you will only notice this happening only on the first coat.

Can I use a Foam Brush to Apply Polyurethane?

Yes, you can use a foam brush in the application of your polyurethane finish. Alternatively, you can choose to use a bristle brush that is about 2″ wide. Foam does a great job of eliminating the chore of cleaning because these brushes are affordable and thus disposable. You can apply the initial coat without diluting or choose to dilute with half the paint.

Will Bubbles in Polyurethane Go Away?

No, it’s implausible that the bubbles will go away. In this case, the only solution is to sand out the bubbles and apply another layer of finish. Apply a thin coat of poly product after ensuring that the sanded surface is level and even.


Most people still find it hard to apply polyurethane finish to there wooden surfaces with a big number applying too much of the formula. Applying too much formula would likely leave your finish “fat,” which might not be entirely beautiful and would take longer to dry. So,

How Many Coats of Polyurethane?

As I stated at the start of this article, having at least two coats of polyurethane finish on your surfaces would do a great job. If you are going to apply polyurethane to areas that see so much traffic, then you should apply three coats.

Did you find this article helpful? Kindly let me know by sharing your opinion or questions in the comment section below.

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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.

1 thought on “How Many Coats of Polyurethane”

  1. We had our kitchen family room sanded and they were supposed to apply 2 coats ( I asked for 3 and would pay extra but he would only do two because of his team’s schedule. It has been about 3 months and there are so Jake scratches in the surface ( maybe from our 30 lb dog?). We do not have these issues with any of the wood floors in the rest of the house ( which were done years ago). Would this be a sign that they only applied one coat?

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