Wood Staining

How to Use Polyurethane

Leftover Paint

How to Use Polyurethane


After applying wood stain, it’s a good idea to seal it with polyurethane to protect your project. There are several different types of polyurethane products to choose from. It’s important to select the one that’s right for your project and apply it correctly to achieve the best results.


What Is Polyurethane?


Polyurethane is a protective top coat for indoor stained wood, such as furniture. Its clear, hard finish prevents damage from scratches, scuffs and spills. Different types of polyurethane are available based on desired appearance and protection needs.


Do I Need to Use Polyurethane After Staining?


Wood stain in various colors highlights natural wood grain, but it does not provide long-term protection. Without a protective top coat like polyurethane, wood can be damaged easily due to contact with water, food, or sharp objects. A polyurethane top coat protects the wood from scratches, stains and water damage.


What Type of Polyurethane Should I Use?


Polyurethane comes in different sheens, including matte, satin, semi-gloss and gloss. The sheen you choose should be based on now natural or shiny you want your wood to look. You can also choose among different formulas made for specific surfaces.


Depending on your project, certain polyurethanes may be better than others. For example:


  • Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane in Matte Finish: Gives wood a natural look while providing the protection of traditional polyurethane. Matte finish also helps hide fingerprints, making it a good choice for surfaces used on a daily basis.



  • Varathane Water-Based Polyurethane: Delivers clear protection to stained wood without altering the color. This is a good choice for surfaces treated with very light or white wood stain.


  • Varathane Ultimate Spar Urethane: Protects outdoor wood from weather damage and discoloration caused by UV rays. Spar urethane comes in an oil-based formula that offers a warm, golden-colored finish and a water-based formula that leaves a clear, non-yellowing finish.



Can I Use Polyurethane on Bare Wood?


Yes. If you prefer the look of bare wood, you do not need to use stain before applying polyurethane. Polyurethane in matte finish offers a subtle appearance and soft-touch feel, while providing the long-term protection of polyurethane.