Urethane paint is a type of paint where the pigment is combined with polyurethanes, which serve as the binder to keep the molecules of pigment together.
Polyurethane is a polymer derived from organic compounds in which urethane connections link chains of units. It’s made when two monomers with at least two isocyanate groups are combined. High-quality polyurethane paint generally contains a more significant proportion of the expensive polyurethane component.
Today, several manufacturers provide consumers with a variety of urethane paints. Although all urethane paints will be glossed to some extent, semi-gloss varieties have also been created for specific applications because of their high resistance and ability to reflect light.
Urethane Paint Uses
Urethane paint was created in the mid-1960s using cutting-edge plastic technology of that era to be superior to enamel paint in terms of longevity.
Presently urethane paints are available in a range of sheens, from high-gloss to semi-gloss, and are most commonly used as a protective coating on metal surfaces and vehicles in the automotive and marine industry due to their excellent durability.
Urethane paint is often used to achieve a high-gloss finish on wood surfaces. Especially woodworkers and DIYers keen enough to get a glossy, long-lasting paint job often choose urethane paint.
Benefits of Using Urethane Paint
The main advantages of urethane paint are its exceptional durability and resistance to a wide range of damage, including abrasion, chemicals, fading, and weathering.
Urethane paint is also resistant to chipping, cracking, and peeling, making it an ideal choice for high-traffic areas or areas subject to extreme weather conditions.
Urethane paint is excellent for outdoor surfaces since it is resistant to UV radiation of the sun’s rays. It also has the benefit of being a surface that may be painted over enamel if an enamel-painted one is prepared first.
How to Use Urethane Paints Correctly?
Urethane paint is challenging to get to stick to certain surfaces or even the bristles of your paintbrush. This means to be held and applied; urethane paint requires special brushes or sprayers.
Also, it’s critical to prime the surface before painting since sanding a smooth surface provides more opportunities for the urethane paint to adhere.
Since the overall process is tricky, I recommend not handling the task yourself if you are keen enough to spray your car using urethane paint for premium quality professional looks.
That said, as a DIYer, you can apply urethane paint to your smaller projects in these steps:
- Dilute the urethane paint with a specialized urethane thinner
- Apply the diluted urethane paint in thin layers using a paintbrush you have chosen
- Allow each layer of paint to dry completely and lightly sand between each layer to create a desirable paint coating.
Alternatively, the paint can be applied thickly with a small roller. Once it is mostly dry, you can “tip” it by dragging the tips of a dry paintbrush over the surface. This will score the paint and create channels for bubbles to escape through.
One disadvantage of using urethane paints is they can take a long time to dry and fully cure. This can be as high as three to four weeks, particularly in cold temperatures.
It’s recommended that you protect the painted surface properly until the paint is no longer soft to the touch.
You should also avoid exposing the surface to moisture and extreme temperatures until it is completely cured.
When the paint has been correctly applied and you have allowed it enough time to cure, urethane-painted surfaces will act much like a powder-coated surface in terms of durability and resistance.
Precautions and Maintenance Tips for Urethane Paint
Over time, a urethane-painted surface is likely to shrink and contract. This ensures that the material sticks even more closely to an inflexible surface, such as a car’s hood.
However, painting over wood surfaces necessitates some planning.
It’s preferable to paint both sides of the wood to avoid warping caused by the shrinking of the painted area. For example, if you plan to paint a tabletop with urethane paint, it’s also good to apply it to the underside of the table.
When wet or in its uncured state, urethane paint is highly toxic. So, when undertaking a DIY painting project involving urethane indoors, painters should always use a respirator rated for this type of work.
Exterior paints such as the popular Sears Weatherbeater Ultra urethane paints should never be used indoors without first putting on a respirator.
You should also avoid over-exposing the urethane-painted furniture to direct sunlight or heat since this can cause the paint to discolor.
In terms of maintenance, urethane paints are easy to clean. Simply wash the surface with soap and water when it gets dirty. Alternatively, you can use a urethane-safe cleaner like Simple Green to remove tough stains.
It’s essential to avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasives on the surface since these can damage the paint.
Urethane Paint vs. Epoxy Paint – Are They the Same or Different?
Although epoxy and urethane are referred to as resin types, they are not identical.
Urethane paints are thinner than epoxy but can withstand more chemicals, abuse, and impact while still being a durable coating. It is also UV resistant and capable of withstanding exterior conditions; however, it cannot be in constant contact with water.
Unlike expensive epoxy paints, urethane paint may be as cheap as $200 per gallon or less, depending on the manufacturer and the quality of the product. When applied correctly, it creates a tough, hard-wearing surface resistant to staining and fading.
And since urethane paint is straightforward to clean and maintain, cleaning the surface isn’t a headache either.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.