Polyurethane is a common finish for outdoor furniture, but finding the right product can be tricky. With so many different options and formulations, you'll want to make sure your choice will stand up to the elements and last as long as possible. We've compared all of the key factors below so you can make an informed decision about which polyurethane is best for your needs.

First off, it's important to know that there are two types of polyurethanes: water-based and solvent-based. Water-based polyurethanes are considered safer because they don't require harmful chemicals like solvents do to dry, making them better for both indoor air quality and the environment. However, these finishes tend to wear more quickly than their solvent-based counterparts because they have lower film build numbers (explained further in our recommendations). Because of this, we recommend using a water-based polyurethane if you plan on reusing your outdoor piece within 3–5 years or if it's made from wood that won't hold up well over time.

If you're looking for a longer lifespan or want something that will weather well even without a topcoat or sealer, consider one of our recommended solvent-based products instead. These typically have higher film build numbers than water-based options so they're more durable and protective against UV damage and moisture penetration. This means that these finishes last longer—sometimes more than 10 years—and often need no additional protection when used with certain woods like teak or cedar since they already naturally resist rot and insects. However, keep in mind that using any type of oil-based finish outdoors may attract bugs due to its pungent smell while drying; some customers also report having respiratory reactions after applying these products indoors due to sensitivity or overspray drifting into other rooms during application.

We hope you find your next favorite thing from the list below! Each product was independently selected by our editors. ConsistentReviews may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to buy something (that's how we stay in business). We hope you find your next favorite thing!

How We Choose

There are a few things to consider when choosing an outdoor polyurethane, including durability and weather resistance. Polyurethanes that are designed specifically for outdoor use tend to be more durable and resistant to the elements than standard interior polyurethanes. They should also offer excellent UV protection so your furniture isn't damaged by sun exposure.

If you're looking for an outdoor spray polyurethane, look for one that's labeled as "outdoor" or "exterior." These formulas contain additional UV protectants and hardeners, making them ideal for protecting outdoor wood surfaces from the damaging effects of sunlight and rain. Plus, they generally have a longer drying time which can make it easier to complete large projects without rush hour traffic!

Minwax Water-Based Helmsman Spar Urethane

Minwax Water-Based Helmsman Spar Urethane

Specially Formulated Protective Clear Finish for Exterior or Interior Wood that is Exposed to Sunlight

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Why We Love It

Minwax Water Based Helmsman Spar Urethane is the perfect solution for all your wood finishing needs. This crystal clear wood finish is specially formulated to protect against nature’s toughest conditions and forms a protective barrier against rain and moisture. It is ideal for use on doors, windows, trim, bathroom cabinets, bar tops, kitchen countertops, outdoor furniture, and more.

What You Should Know

Its special oils allow the finish to expand and contract with the wood as seasons and temperatures change. Plus, it features a semi-gloss finish that gives your wood projects a sleek look and protects the natural beauty of the wood for a long-lasting, modern sheen.

For over 115 years, Minwax has been America’s leading brand of wood finishing and wood care products. That means you can trust the quality and performance of this water-based spar urethane. It dries quickly and cleans up easily with warm water, so you can get your wood projects finished fast. Plus, it’s suitable for use both indoors and outdoors, so you can use it all year round. Minwax Water Based Helmsman Spar Urethane is the perfect choice for anyone looking for a reliable protective clear finish that will keep their wood projects looking their best.

TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish, Gloss, and Satin Polyurethane Finish for Wood

TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish, Gloss, and Satin Polyurethane

Durable Urethane Spar Varnish with Maximum UV Resistance

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Why We Love It

TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish is a high-quality polyurethane varnish that can be used to protect wood against water and UV damage. It's ideal for boats, outdoor furniture, and other outdoor wooden surfaces and objects that are exposed to the elements.

What You Should Know

The finish dries quickly and self-levels, so you don't need to spend time sanding it after it's applied. It also comes in gloss or satin (low-sheen), with coverage of up to 400 square feet per quart. The TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish can be applied by A natural bristle brush, rolling, or spraying — for a high-gloss finish use four coats of Gleam Gloss varnish followed by one coat of Gleam Satin varnish as the final coat; for a sleek satin finish use two coats of Gleam Gloss followed by two coats of Gleam Satin varnish as the final coat.

This product contains premium tung oil, phenolic resins, and UV blockers for an elegant amber color that will last years without peeling or cracking.

Seal-Once Nano+Poly Penetrating Wood Sealer with Polyurethane

Seal-Once Nano+Poly Penetrating Wood Sealer with Polyurethane

Water-Based Polyurethane Wood Finish

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Why We Love It

The Seal-Once U-C-500G Gallon Nano+ Poly Penetrating Wood Sealer is a great sealant for protecting wood against water damage. It's easy to use and comes in a 1-gallon size so you can cover more surface area with it.

What You Should Know

This product is designed specifically to protect against water damage, so if you're looking for something that will also add some color or shine to your wood, this isn't the product for you. The downside of this is that it doesn't offer any additional protection against stains or scratches, but that's not necessarily a bad thing as most people don't need an added level of protection beyond what their deck already offers.

This penetrating resin sealer will finish off your wood completely, allowing you to get on with the important business of enjoying your deck in all its glory before it gets wet again. Once the sealant has dried, it provides great protection from water damage and is easy to clean up afterward with soap and water.

Varathane 200241H Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane

Varathane 200241H Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane

Satin Finish Provides a Classic and Natural Look

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Why We Love It

The Varathane brand is known for delivering high-quality results time and time again. This water-based polyurethane is no exception - it delivers a flawless finish that will leave your wood looking like new.

What You Should Know

The Satin finish provides a classic and natural look, while the Durable formula provides outstanding stain and scratch resistance with excellent clarity. It dries to the touch in 30 minutes, so you won't have to wait around for it to dry completely before moving on to the next step of your project.

Water-based formula means this product cleans up easily with soap and water, making it easy to maintain and keep clean between using at least three coats if needed. The price may seem a little steep at first glance, but considering how long this can last you over time makes it well worth the investment.

Rust-Oleum 284470 Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane

Rust-Oleum 284470 Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane

Ultimate Durability and Protection

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Why We Love It

The Varathane Ultimate Wood Stain is a water-based stain that dries to the touch in just two hours. This means you can paint flat surfaces right away and get on with your day, without having to wait for the product to dry.

What You Should Know

The gloss finish of this stain adds a subtle sheen that brings out the natural beauty of the wood. It's also scratch resistant, so it will protect against scuffs and dents while adding an extra layer of protection to the wooden surface of your furniture. The one-coat coverage ensures minimal waste, making it easy to cover large areas quickly and efficiently.

This stain is ideal for use on all interior wood surfaces including furniture, doors, trim, and more. It even works well on painted or varnished exterior wood surfaces if you want to give it a fresh coat of color as well!

Best Outdoor Polyurethane FAQs

Polyurethane is a type of plastic that is used in a variety of applications.

It's important to know how to correctly use and care for your polyurethane products, so you can get the most out of them as possible.

We've compiled some Frequently Asked Questions about Polyurethanes below so you can make an informed purchase. If you have any additional questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below!

Which Polyurethane Is Best For Outdoors?

All polyurethane coatings, including those used outdoors, offer varying degrees of resistance to UV rays, water, and extreme weather conditions. However, their effectiveness can differ based on the specific grade chosen. For optimal water and mold resistance, opting for a high-performing premium grade is highly recommended. While it may require a greater initial investment, it will ensure that your deck or patio furniture remains durable over time.

In addition to selecting the appropriate grade, it is crucial to perform regular cleaning and treatment on your outdoor polyurethane finish. This maintenance routine helps preserve its color, shine, and protection against stains. To clean and maintain your polyurethane-coated surfaces, it is essential to use a high-quality cleaner specifically formulated for polyurethane, such as Hyde Polyx Cleaner & Conditioner. Prior to using any cleaners or treatments, always ensure they are safe for the specific surface you are working on. This precaution guarantees the best results without causing any damage.

Moreover, if you are working with wood surface the use of a wood grain filler should also be considered. Wood grain fillers help to smooth out the surface by filling in any gaps or imperfections in the wood grain. This process not only enhances the appearance of the wood but also improves the adhesion and durability of the polyurethane coating. By incorporating a wood grain filler into your preparation process, you can achieve a more flawless and professional finish.

Is There A Polyurethane For Exterior Use?

Yes, there is a type of polyurethane specifically formulated for outdoor use. When it comes to protecting wood surfaces outside, you can rely on exterior polyurethane. It's designed to withstand the challenges of the outdoors, such as sunlight, moisture, and temperature changes. By applying the best exterior polyurethane now, you can ensure a long lasting and durable finish for your outdoor wood projects.

Now, if you're searching for the right polyurethane for both interior and exterior wooden surfaces, you might come across products labeled as "interior and exterior polyurethane." These versatile options can be used on both indoor and outdoor wood projects, providing Uv protection against UV rays, water damage, and regular wear and tear.

Another option worth considering is oil-based exterior polyurethane. This particular formulation is well-suited for outdoor applications. It not only offers superior protection but also enhances the natural beauty of the wood. With its hard and protective finish, oil-based exterior polyurethane shields the wood from water damage and the harmful effects of UV rays.

To summarize, there are different types of polyurethane finishes available for exterior use. These include exterior polyurethane, interior and exterior polyurethane, and oil-based exterior polyurethane. Each of these options serves the purpose of safeguarding and beautifying outdoor wood surfaces, providing durability and resistance to outdoor elements.

Is There An Outdoor Water-Based Polyurethane?

Water-based polyurethane sealers are widely available in the paint aisle of home improvement stores. These generally have a lower odor and VOC (volatile organic compounds) levels compared to traditional oil-based sealers, which makes them safer for your family and the environment.

Most water-based sealers are suitable for use outdoors as long as you follow the manufacturer's instructions for application and drying time. Many experts also recommend applying a coat of shellac first to help seal the wood and prevent rot and other damage from moisture. Be sure to choose a shellac that is appropriate for use with your specific type of wood so you don't create an unwanted finish when you apply it on top of your oil-based polyurethane.

Is Polyurethane Or Varnish Better For Outdoor Use?

Polyurethane is the more durable of these two options. It has a water-resistant seal that can withstand sunlight and rain, making it a good option for deck surfaces, fences, and other exterior items. Varnish has less protection against the elements and will deteriorate much faster than polyurethane. Many brands claim their products are weatherproof or water resistant, but unless you find an appropriate certification (like ACMA or UV), there's no guarantee the finish will stand up to years of sun and rain.

If you're working with a professional paint contractor on an outdoor project, they can help you select the best product for your needs. Many people choose to apply several coats of varnish over a base coat of polyurethane so they get extra durability in extreme weather conditions.

Which Polyurethane Is Waterproof?

Most polyurethane sealers are water-resistant, not waterproof. Water-resistant means a moderate amount of water won't damage the surface. However, if you submerge the material in water for an extended period of time or expose it to extreme amounts of moisture over a long period, you may experience some deterioration.

You can find products that claim to be waterproof; however, it's very important to note that these materials can only withstand temporary flooding and high-pressure hose streams. If you live in a flood zone or have frequent plumbing issues, this might be the best option for you. Otherwise, we don't recommend using products that are specifically labeled as waterproof unless your project is in a contained area with minimal exposure to rain or high tides.

Is Polyurethane 100% Waterproof?

Polyurethane isn't 100% waterproof, but it is water-resistant. Water won't penetrate the coating, but prolonged exposure may lead to water damage underneath the smooth surface. For example, leaving a bowl on top of a finished polyurethane surface for an extended period of time will result in water damage even if no obvious cracks appear.

Oils and other non-polar solvents can also penetrate polyurethane coatings, so it's important not to use these cleaning products on these types of finishes. Be sure to follow manufacturer instructions when using cleaners and other substances around your polyurethane-finished outdoor wood surface.

What Is The Most Durable Polyurethane?

As we've already mentioned, polyurethane is an extremely durable material. It's used to craft things like basketball courts, hardwood floors, and high-end shoe soles, after all! That said, different types of polyurethane have their unique advantages when it comes to durability.

High-performance polyurethanes are the most durable. These varieties are specifically crafted for use in applications where the surface will be exposed to a lot of wear and tear, such as gymnasium floors or bowling lanes. They're typically more expensive than other types of urethane though. High-performance urethanes boast excellent abrasion resistance and exceptional impact absorption. They'll also stand up well in extreme weather conditions such as heat or cold – another advantage compared to PVC flooring alternatives!

Moderate-performance polyurethanes offer good durability but are not quite as good as high-performance varieties. These kinds of urethanes are ideal for applications that see moderate levels of traffic and wear, such as classrooms or hallways at offices. You can find moderate performance urethanes in a range of sheen levels too including matte, semi-gloss, gloss, and high gloss finish!

What Are The Three Types Of Polyurethane?

Polyurethane is a type of plastic that forms flexible, hard shells. It's commonly used to make products like furniture, upholstery, and packaging materials because it's highly durable. Polyurethane comes in three main types: HX (hydroxyl-excluded); PM (polymethylene); and EPM (ethylene/propylene/meta-diene). All three types are water resistant but differ slightly in the way they harden when exposed to heat and pressure.

HX polyurethanes have the most flexibility, making them a good choice for upholstery or other applications where movement is needed. PM polyurethanes form stiffer shells with more impact resistance than HX but less flexibility than EPM. This makes it a good all-around material for things like chairs, tables, and cabinets. EPM creates the hardest shell of all three types; however, this can make them difficult to shape while they're being formed in the machine.

Is Polyurethane Sun Resistant?

Polyurethane is a type of plastic, so it does not have any sun protection properties. If you're looking for a fabric that can stand up to direct sunlight and UV exposure, consider choosing one made from leather or another animal-based material. Alternatively, you could choose a synthetic steel wool with a water-repellent coating. While these fabrics won't perform as well in extreme conditions compared to genuine leather, they will fare better than polyurethane.

Polyurethane is often used in furniture and other household items because it's tough and durable. However, it's important to note that it isn't suited for use outdoors long term unless you make appropriate adjustments to the item (choose hardwearing materials with UV protection). For short-term use in the great outdoors – such as when setting up an event space – this fabric may serve your needs well if you plan accordingly and take steps to protect the finished product from harsh conditions.

Does Polyurethane Protect From the Sun?

Polyurethane is a good choice for water-based protection because its flexible base allows the coating to move and flex with the movement of your furniture. Polyurethane coating does not protect against UV rays, however, so it should be used in conjunction with another type of sealant or finish. Other water-based finishes include shellac and lacquer, which are both low gloss finishes that mimic the look of polyurethane but do not offer as much protection.

There are also oil-based polyurethanes that provide a high gloss finish and better protection from spills. Regardless of which type you choose to apply, we recommend purchasing an additional protective sealant or laminate to safeguard against sun damage and other elements that could harm your furniture.

What Is The Most Popular Polyurethane?

Polyurethane is a synthetic material, but there are different types of polyurethane that have different properties. Some polyurethane paints are better at resisting water or UV light than others. The best type of polyurethane paint depends on your needs and location.

If you live in an area with high rainfall, look for a water-resistant brand of paint like Defender Polyflex Waterproofing Paint or Kiwi All Purpose Paint & Primer. These paints will be able to withstand rain and snow without cracking, peeling, or blistering for up to three years.

If you live in the desert where rain doesn't fall very often, you may want to opt for a paint specifically designed not to collect condensation like PPG iFuze Interior Semi-Gloss Polyurethane (Interior) or Sherwin Williams Hi-Dry Exterior Paint & Primer. These paints won't feel clammy when you touch them and they'll do a great job preventing mildew from forming inside your home too! If collecting condensation isn't an issue where you live, and semi-gloss or gloss variety should be sufficient for protecting your property against UV rays.

May we say in conclusion...👍

The best outdoor polyurethane is a good choice for individuals looking to protect their project from harsh weather conditions. Polyurethane is an ideal coating due to its superior durability and moisture resistance, which makes it great for protecting wood, metal, and other surfaces from corrosion or rusting. Furthermore, there are many different types of polyurethane available so you can choose one that matches your specific needs - from water-based versions that don't require special equipment for spraying to solvent-based versions that offer superior bonding strength at the cost of flammability. Additionally, several brands offer specialty products designed specifically for exterior use or high-end finishes such as satin or gloss; these options provide extra protection against the elements while still providing an aesthetic appeal. Ultimately, selecting the most suitable outdoor polyurethane depends on your budget and desired results - but it's certainly a worthwhile investment if you want to protect your property from adverse weather conditions without compromising quality or appearance in any way.

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