Can You Put Polyurethane Over Acrylic Paint?

Have you at any point had your painted project fade, get murky, or feel? If you have, you understand how disappointing it is to continue repainting the same project every year.

Here is where Polyurethane comes in handy. Homeowners who had painted their home with acrylic paint and want to protect the paint do ask, “Can you put polyurethane over acrylic paint?”

The ability to apply polyurethane over acrylic paint, and many other issues, are what I am going to share with you in this article.

Can You Put Polyurethane Over Acrylic Paint?

Yes, you can. Putting polyurethane over acrylic paint will help to keep the paint looking bright and shining. But, I would advise that you use water-based polyurethane, as the oil-based polyurethane can create a yellow coloring to the paint.

You can put polyurethane over acrylic paint to help reestablish its splendor and give it a shinier look.

What is Polyurethane

Polyurethane is a polymer used for multiple purposes. Examples of things made with are foam sponges, hoses, spandex, gaskets, etc.

Polyurethane is a petroleum-based item used for coating and as glue. Polyurethane comes in two forms – oil-based and water-based polyurethane. The yellowish color oil-based polyurethane leaves when applied on paint and dries for a longer time. It also emits a slight smell when dried.

However, the water-based polyurethane does not leave coloration when applying over acrylic paint. It dries faster than the oil-based. Also, it’s higher in price than oil-based and low in resistance to high temperature and chemicals.

Avoid using them on surfaces that are regularly open to sunlight and heat or contain many chemicals. Oil-based is moderately stronger than water-based and can deal with heat and chemicals to a greater degree.

What is Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic paint is a rubber-like product that dries off rapidly when applied to a surface. We use it for painting due to its water-resistance property. Apart from that, you use Acrylic to coat other substance surfaces.

Acrylic paints are more easygoing than oil. They leave a relatable exterior when dried. For this reason, they draw in dust and filth without difficulty. That alone makes it essential to put polyurethane over acrylic paint to protect and increase its lifespan.

Types of Polyurethane

Polyurethane comes in two forms – oil-based and water-based polyurethane. Let’s see their properties.

types of polyurethane - Can you put polyurethane over acrylic paint

Oil-Based Polyurethane

Oil-based polyurethane becomes yellowish or amber in color once you apply them. It lunches a hard thick covering in a couple of coats, but then, they dry slowly. You have to wait in the middle of each layer to dry before applying another.

Oil-based polyurethane requires around 24 hours to dry, after which you can do with it whatsoever you wish. But, still, they are not fully cured, so you’ll need to give it more time before you start walking the surface.

Apply your polyurethane in an open area and ensure that your pets and furniture stay away because they can interfere with the polyurethane drying period.

Water-Based Polyurethane

Water-based polyurethane do dries in six hours once it is applied. Afterward, the floor becomes dry, and you can move on it.

Yet, you can only perform some light-duty activities because they have not cured. Please, note that water-based polyurethane over acrylic paint will get dried after 48 – 72 hours.

But, it requires approximately 3-5 days to cure before you can continue your normal activities.

How to Apply Polyurethane Over a Paint?

Before thinking about applying polyurethane over paint, you need to decide if you need an oil-based or water-based polyurethane. For me, I would go for a water-based polyurethane to avoid the yellowish-brown coloration.

If you aim to protect the paint and add aesthetic to the painted surface, please consider applying at least two coats over the surface. It will enhance the surface strength and resistance.

Let’s see how you can apply polyurethane finish over paint.

Clean the Surface

Clean the surface by washing it properly. Washing it will remove oil, stains, dust, and a wide range of filth, which gives a clean area.

Use a clean wipe or soft sponge and strong cleanser to wash the surface. Or better still, mix One and a half cups of trisodium phosphate in warm water to clean the area.

Trisodium phosphate is a good cleaning agent painters use it for cleaning painted surfaces.

Do Some Scraping

After washing, give the surface about 24 to 72 hours to dry properly. Then, use 120- coarse sandpaper to scrape off the surface. Doing this will keep any substantial scratches from shaping and flatten the surface.

Ensure you sandpaper the surface. If you don’t, you will see some uneven surfaces and significant scratches beneath it after applying the polyurethane (Get sandpapers here if you don’t have them).

You can straighten the surface by way of hand. After that, clean the dirt with a moist cloth.

Applying your Polyurethane

Now, you have got the finish you intended to use (oil-based or water-based). Applying the finish is best done using a brush or spray. Try not to work with a roller to apply the polyurethane as it may cause the coats to form bubbles.

When working on a flat surface that requires several coats or thick film, you need a brush to give you the best result. But spraying, on the other hand, is ideal for a project with hard-to-reach areas.

In spraying, the layer isn’t as thick as that created when using a brush.

Coating – The First stage - polyurethane and acrylic paint

Coating – The First stage

Give the first layer of coat to dry completely. After that, begin scraping off the surface with sandpaper to eliminate any dusty particles to get a leveled surface.   

Coating – The Second Phase

Once you have the first phase done, it is time to start applying the second coat of film. On most occasions, you’ll not have to apply multiple coats. Following the successful application of the second coat, allow at least 24 hours for it to dry.

How to Make Polyurethane Dry Quicker?

To make polyurethane dry faster on surfaces:

  1. Proper cross ventilation is crucial when working with polyurethane. So, keep an airflow
  2. Make use of water-based polyurethane.
  3. Keep the temperature between 78.8 degrees Fahrenheit and 95 degrees Fahrenheit around the work area. Polyurethane dries better under temperatures that are neither too high nor low.

How Long Should Paint Dry Before Applying Polyurethane

Before applying polyurethane allow your painted surface to dry. The minimum time in the range of 24 and 72 hours is ideal. For best outcomes, leave the surface undisturbed for a longer time to cure. The more time it has, the stronger and finer the area is going to be.

Other factors that determine the wait time include the airflow, type of wood, type of paint, and the weather condition.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Put Polyurethane Over Enamel Paint?

Yes, you can put polyurethane over enamel paint, which often gives a hard finishing than latex-based paints. For quality outcomes, enamel paint is allowed a long period to dry. The waiting can be between three to seven days before applying a finish.

Can You Put Polyurethane Over Paint?

Yes, you can, but you don’t have to paint a surface before applying the coat to protect it. However, if you desire a solid color, painting is the best approach.

Polyurethane can help to protect latex and acrylic paint as long as you have prepared the surface accordingly.

How to Seal Acrylic Paint On Wood?

To seal acrylic paint on wood, use a spray or brush for this purpose (Get quality paint spray and brush from here).

Mostly, I stick with the brushing process since it gives me a smoother finish than the spraying technique, but the spraying method is best for hard-to-reach places.

Here is how to seal acrylic paints on wood

  • Pour a little pool of polyacrylic on the painted surface.
  • Use the brush and the sealant in light strokes to work on the corners outwardly.
  • Do it rapidly until the entire painting is uniformly covered.
  • Use warm water in washing the brush to remove the sealant from it.
  • Wait at least 2-3 hours between coats and ensure the brush gets dried before continuing the other finishing.

Can You Put Polyurethane Over Acrylic Paint? The Bottom Lines

The best way to protect and prolong the lifespan of your furniture and household items is by applying polyurethane over acrylic paint.

This act will shield the acrylic paint from scratches, make it shiny, and guide it from heat and water damages.

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