Polyurethane Vs Epoxy Wood Finish: Which is the Best Choice?

Polyurethane Vs Epoxy Wood Finish

When deciding on the best wood finish for a project, it’s important to take into account the pros and cons of the two most common types of finishes: polyurethane and epoxy. While both materials have their advantages and disadvantages, researching the two and understanding their differences can help you determine the best choice for your project. In this article, we’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of each, as well as give you an idea of what polyurethane and epoxy are used for, to help you make the right decision when selecting a wood finish.

Polyurethane vs Epoxy Wood Finish: Pros and Cons

When it comes to wood finishing, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach – each type of finish has its own unique benefits and drawbacks. Polyurethane and epoxy are two popular types of wood finishes that can bring out the beauty in wood surfaces, but there are several factors to consider before making a decision. In this section, we’ll explore the pros and cons of polyurethane and epoxy wood finishes, giving you the information you need to choose the perfect finish for your project.

What is Polyurethane Used For

What is Polyurethane Used For?

Polyurethane is a popular and durable finish used to protect wood and wooden objects from sustaining further damage or wear over time. It is a water-based resin that dries quickly and resists staining, cracking, and yellowing of the finish over time. It has a high gloss, satin finish, or matte finish and can be used on both interior and exterior projects.

Polyurethane is used for:

  • Protecting hardwood floors
  • Sealing and protecting wooden furniture
  • Sealing and protecting decks
  • Sealing and protecting cabinets
  • Sealing and protecting wooden trim pieces
  • Finishing unfinished wood projects
  • Preserving woodturning projects

Polyurethane can also be tinted to create beautiful, rich colors and it bonds well with other finishes, such as lacquer and varnish. It is one of the most versatile and durable finishes available, making it one of the most popular choices among professionals and homeowners alike.

What is Epoxy Used For

Polyurethane and epoxy are two popular wood finishes that offer different sets of characteristics and advantages. Epoxy is commonly used as a wood finish due to its ability to protect wood from water damage and increase the durability of the wood. It is also the most attractive wood finish in most cases. On the other hand, polyurethane is a more affordable and easier to use option for wood finishing.

Due to its versatility, epoxy is often used in multiple applications. Epoxy is a great choice for coating and protecting metal, wood and concrete surfaces. It is also often used as a primer for painting metal objects as it prevents rust and increases adhesion. It is also often used to line floors and ceilings because it has a glossy finish that makes surfaces look better and more attractive.

The other major advantage of using epoxy as a wood finish is that it is great at preventing water damage. Epoxy is a waterproof material and it forms an invisible but very tough barrier over surfaces that helps protect them from moisture. This makes it an ideal choice for finishing furniture and other objects that are regularly exposed to moisture such as boats and kitchen countertops.

Here are some of the advantages of using epoxy as a wood finish:

• Epoxy is waterproof and highly resistant to moisture, making it an ideal choice for protecting wood from water damage.
• It is very durable and long-lasting, making it an excellent choice for protecting furniture and kitchen countertops.
• Epoxy is also very attractive and adds a glossy look to surfaces.
• It also adds to the strength of surfaces and can help increase the durability of the wood.

Epoxy is also an ideal material for finishing metal objects such as furniture and other home goods because it prevents corrosion and increases adhesion. It is also often used to line floors and ceilings, providing a glossy finish and an attractive look.

The Pros and Cons of Polyurethane

Polyurethane is one of the most popular wood finishes on the market today, and for good reason. It offers a glossy, smooth finish that’s stain-resistant and easy to clean. Plus, it’s durable enough to stand up to heavy wear and tear. Here are the pros and cons of using polyurethane for your wood finish.


  • It provides a high-gloss finish that is stain-resistant and easy to clean.
  • Polyurethane is extremely durable and can withstand heavy wear and tear.
  • It’s relatively fast-drying, making it a good choice for projects that need to be completed quickly.
  • It’s a relatively inexpensive wood finish, particularly when compared to other wood finishes.
  • It’s available in both oil-based and water-based formulas, so you can choose the one that best meets your needs.


  • It can be prone to yellowing over time, so it’s best used in low-light areas.
  • The oil-based formula is highly flammable, so extra safety precautions should be taken when working with it.
  • It’s not UV-resistant, so it can tend to fade in direct sunlight.
  • The water-based formula won’t adhere as well to some surfaces as the oil-based formula.

Polyurethane is a great option for wood finishes in many households, but it’s important to understand the pros and cons of this popular finish before you decide to use it.


Advantages of Polyurethane

Polyurethane is a popular finish for wood because it is durable, reliable, and long-lasting. It resists scratches, water, chemicals, and even ultraviolet rays, making it ideal for outdoor furniture and other wooden structures exposed to the elements. It is also highly resistant to wear and tear, meaning that it is not easily damaged by everyday use. Additionally, because it is a clear finish, it accentuates the natural beauty of the wood grain.

Polyurethane also provides a few additional benefits for wood. It offers an extra layer of protection, so the underlying wood is kept safe from damage. Additionally, when you apply multiple coats of polyurethane, it can act as a sealer, preventing moisture from entering the wood and causing further damage. Lastly, polyurethane is easy to apply, making it a great DIY wood finishing option.

Advantages of Epoxy

Epoxy is a popular choice for wood finishes because it is strong and durable. Despite its name, it is actually quite flexible and can adjust to the natural movement and expansion of the wood. In addition, epoxy is chemical-resistant, so it is ideal for projects that use harsh or caustic chemicals. It is also much easier to apply than other finishes, such as varnish or shellac.

Because epoxies are created to chemically bond with the surface, they can provide an incredibly strong finish. This is especially useful on projects where strength is paramount, such as tabletops or boat decks. Additionally, epoxies can be used to fill in gaps and cracks, adding a much needed layer of protection. And because of the wide variety of different epoxy formulas available, it is easy to find a product that meets your needs, from products with UV protection to those with anti-slip capabilities.


Disadvantages of Polyurethane

Polyurethane does offer exceptional protection for wood surfaces but it does have some drawbacks. Here is a list of a few issues associated with polyurethane:
– It can be challenging to apply polyurethane evenly and it requires several coats
– Polyurethane can cause yellowing over time
– It dries slowly and takes a long time to fully cure
– Extreme temperatures can reduce the overall lifespan of polyurethane
– If it is not handled properly, it can produce bubbles or cause chipping

Disadvantages of Epoxy

Epoxy is an ideal choice for protecting wood surfaces but there are a few drawbacks that need to be taken into consideration. Here is a list of issues associated with epoxy wood finishes:
– Epoxy can be difficult to apply due to its thick consistency
– There is a short curing time for epoxy and it does not always offer a smooth finish
– It can discolor wood over time
– It tends to be more expensive than polyurethane finishes
– Cleanup is difficult and time-consuming

The Pros and Cons of Epoxy

Epoxy is a very popular wood finish among woodworkers. It is much more durable and versatile than polyurethane, allowing you to create a wide variety of custom finishes. It is also less prone to yellowing, and provides superior protection against water damage and wear. However, it does have its drawbacks, and it is important to consider both its advantages and disadvantages before deciding if it is the right wood finish for you.


  • Epoxy is more durable and can withstand more wear and tear than polyurethane.
  • It provides superior protection against water damage and yellowing.
  • It is easy to use and requires minimal skills to apply.
  • It forms a strong bond with the wood, making it resistant to scratches and chips.
  • It is much easier to repair if it does get scratched or damaged.
  • It is a good choice for outdoor use, as it is UV resistant.


  • Epoxy is more expensive than polyurethane.
  • It is difficult to work with and can be messy.
  • It is more toxic than polyurethane, so special precautions need to be taken when working with it.
  • It is not as easy to apply, and you need to be very precise in order to achieve a professional-looking finish.
  • It has a longer curing time, so you need to plan ahead when using it.

Epoxy can be a great choice for many woodworking projects, but it is important to weigh the pros and cons to determine if it is the best option for you. With its superior durability and protection, it can be a great way to ensure your wood pieces stay looking great for years to come.


When it comes to choosing a wood finish, polyurethane and epoxy both have many advantages. Here are some of the most significant:

Advantages of Polyurethane

  • Durable – Polyurethane is extremely resilient and can last a lifetime without requiring regular reapplication.
  • Waterproof – Polyurethane bonds to the surface of the wood and forms a protective layer that is resistant to water damage.
  • Easy to apply – Polyurethane is relatively simple to apply, making it ideal for DIY projects.
  • Clear finish – Polyurethane can be used to create a beautiful and glossy clear coat that will protect and enhance the natural beauty of the wood grain.

Advantages of Epoxy

  • Strong bond – Epoxy forms a strong bond with the wood and is generally considered to be the strongest available wood finish.
  • High levels of abrasion resistance – Epoxy is highly resistant to wear and tear, making it ideal for flooring and furniture with high levels of foot traffic.
  • Heat resistant – Epoxy can withstand high temperatures and is not affected by extreme changes in temperature.
  • Easy to clean – Epoxy is very easy to clean and maintain compared to other wood finishes, meaning that it rarely requires refinishing.

Both polyurethane and epoxy have their pros and cons, but when it comes down to it, the choice between the two is quite subjective. Polyurethane will provide a durable and waterproof finish, while epoxy will offer a strong bond and high levels of abrasion resistance. In the end, it is up to the homeowner to decide which wood finish is best for their project.


The Disadvantages of Polyurethane Wood Finish

Polyurethane is a popular finish for wood and is relatively easy to apply, but it has some drawbacks. Here are some of the disadvantages to using polyurethane as a wood finish:

  • Polyurethane will yellow over time, which means it won’t look as good as when it was first applied.
  • It can be difficult to remove without damaging the wood, so it may need to be stripped off and reapplied.
  • It’s not as durable as other finishes, and can easily become scratched or marred.
  • It’s prone to fading and can become discolored from exposure to sunlight or other sources of UV light.
  • Polyurethane can take weeks to fully cure and may not be the best choice if you need a finish that needs to be applied quickly.

Overall, polyurethane is a popular wood finish, but there are some potential drawbacks to consider before you decide to use it on your project.

Which Wood Finish Should You Choose?

When it comes to which wood finish to choose, it can be a difficult decision between polyurethane and epoxy. Both finishes offer a great level of protection and durability, but they do have some distinct advantages and disadvantages. It’s important to know the good and bad qualities of each type of finish and what it is best suited for when it comes time to make a choice.

  • Pros of Polyurethane
    • Dries quickly and is easy to apply
    • Resists fading due to UV light
    • Provides good flexibility and adhesion
  • Cons of Polyurethane
    • May yellow with age
    • Can be difficult to work with on large surfaces
    • Doesn’t last as long as epoxy
  • Pros of Epoxy
    • Stronger and more durable
    • Chemically resistant to spills, stains and dirt
    • Provides a clear, glossy finish
  • Cons of Epoxy
    • Takes longer to cure and stays tacky longer
    • Susceptible to cracking and chipping
    • Can be expensive and takes more effort to apply

Choosing between a polyurethane and epoxy finish can be a tricky decision, depending on the project. If a quick and easy application is desired, then polyurethane might be the better choice. However, if more protection and durability are needed then epoxy might be the better choice. But keep in mind that epoxy is more expensive and requires more effort to apply.

In the end, you must weigh the pros and cons of each type of finish to determine which one works best for your particular project. Consider the areas of use (indoor or outdoor), the surface to be covered and the desired look or finish when making your decision. With proper preparation and application, either product can yield results you will be proud of.


Devin B

Hi everyone! My name is Devin and I'm the author of this website about tips for woodturning and wood finishing. I'm an avid woodworker and have been doing it for over a decade. I'm constantly learning new techniques and experimenting with new materials and finishes.

I started my journey in woodworking when I was a teenager, making furniture for my bedroom and small projects for my family. As I got older, my interest in woodturning and wood finishing grew. I took classes on the subject and read books on the topic.

I'm passionate about woodturning and wood finishing because it allows me to express my creativity in a tangible way. I love the satisfaction of seeing a piece of wood that I have transformed from a block of raw material into a beautiful finished product.

I hope you find the tips and advice on this website helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me. I'm always happy to help out and share my experiences. Thanks for visiting my website!