Choosing the Right Protective Clear

What is Minwax Polycrylic

When painting a wooden bench, you should ensure that you use an appropriate finish to prevent premature wood damage. Understanding the difference between chemical wood finishes, such as Polyurethane and polycrylic, will help you make prudent decisions. 

That said, Minwax polycrylic is a clear and fast-drying water-based proactive wood finish commonly used on wood surfaces of doors, cabinets, trim, furniture, and paneling. 

Minwax polycrylic can be applied over bare wood or surfaces with oil-based and water-based coatings. The coating protects and enhances the beauty of interior wood surfaces, keeping colors vibrant, and intact much longer than without a clear coat.

polycrylic vs polyurethane

Polycrylic vs. Polyurethane?

Polycrylic and Polyurethane are both chemical wood coatings with similar functionality. Despite the seemingly similar naming, these coatings are not the same and have varying applications.


To begin, Polyurethane is a viable polycrylic alternative to most woodworkers looking to give their wood pieces a shiny look. Polyurethane is liquid-based and dries on wood and oil surfaces. It also comes in different finishes, including satin for a smooth finish and glossy for a shiny appearance. 

Polycrylic ….

On the other hand, polycrylic sprays are water-based solutions that can be used on water and oil surfaces as well. It is available in various sheens, including gloss, semi-gloss, and stain, which add subtle appearance to your piece. Polycrylic finish is comparably less toxic than Polyurethane, but not heat resistant. 

That said, before choosing between polycrylic and polyurethane finish, always think about what you need from the painting project. For instance, if the wooden piece will be exposed to high temperatures and water, the polyurethane finish is more effective than polycrylic. 

On the other hand, if you want to apply a sealer, consider polycrylic paint over Polyurethane, which typically causes a yellow color tint. 

What Finishes Does Minwax Polycrylic Come In?

Minwax polycrylic is available in four sheens. They include;

  1. Matte
  2. Satin
  3. Semi-gloss
  4. Gloss
Graco Paint Sprayer

Can Polycrylic be Sprayed?

Minwax polycrylic can be applied in two ways. Woodworkers can choose between using the aerosol polycrylic spray or applying it with a brush. 

For both cases, ensure that you prepare the surface adequately. Among the preparation measures include repairing dents and cracks and cleaning the surface. 

Using the polycrylic spray is easy and straightforward. It is recommended that you hold the spray at approximately 1 foot away from the woodworking piece and apply an even layer by ensuring that you regulate airflow in the room. 

You should as well put on protective equipment to avoid risks associated with inhaling the spray. 

On the other hand, applying polycrylic with a brush may be a better fit for some large projects. Similarly, repair and clean the workpiece before applying. Use a high-quality synthetic brush, ensuring that you avoid leaving streaks and brush marks. 

To avoid leaving brush marks, use high quality and fine bristle brush and apply the polycrylic in one direction, always in the direction of the wood grain. Also, don’t apply excessive pressure on the brush to make a thin layer.

How Many Coats of Polycrylic are Recommended?

As mentioned, regardless of your method of application, ensure that you apply thin layers of polycrylic at all times. 

Manufacturers recommend that you apply 2 – 3 coats of polycrylic over each other rather than applying one thick layer at once. Users of polycrylic finish also recommend up to three coats with a light sanding between the coats. 

Sanding is essential to remove the fine dust particles that settle on the finish as it dries. It also helps in abrading the surface, improving the overall intercoat adhesion. 

Can You Use Polycrylic Over Paint?

Yes. Polycrylic coats can be applied over latex, oil-based paints, and well-bonded coverings.

However, since it might result in slight ambering, beginning with a spot test on an inconspicuous woodworking surface and allowing enough time to dry is essential.

If there is no ambering, you can proceed to use polycrylic over your initial paint.

Will Minwax Polycrylic Turn Paint Yellow?

Those who have used polycrylic attest that polycrylic does not change the color of the paint. However, it does tend to turn yellow over white paint.

What is Polycrylic Dry Time?

Applying polycrylic and allowing it to cure requires some knowledge. So to say, polycrylic is fast drying and dries faster than most finishes or varnishes. However, this doesn’t mean that it dries or cures instantly. 

Polycrylic drying time depends on the number of layers. The coating will dry to touch within 30 minutes and can be handled 1 hour after application. 

If you have to recoat, you can apply the second coat 2 hours after applying the first coat. You should repeat the same for the third coat as well. 

After the third coat, your woodworking piece will take 24 hours before curing fully. Therefore, depending on how much coating you apply, polycrylic takes roughly 24 hours to dry.

Is Polycrylic Food Safe Surfaces?

Generally put, all wood finishes are food-safe, only if they have cured. Polycrylic does not present any known hazard but is not safe until fully cured. 

As a rule of thumb, complete curing is achieved by a wood piece after 30 days at room temperature. However, issues with food safety arise due to the metallic driers included in the varnishes and oils to speed the drying process. 

Initially, most manufacturers used lead as a drying agent but it has been banned. Regardless, there is no evidence stating that modern driers used in coatings are safe. Besides, no cases of poisoning from polycrylic finishes have ever been reported. 

The FDA also approves the use of these driers in wood coating with no warnings on cans and safety data sheets.

The Bottom Line

Any woodworking piece is incomplete without a durable coat or finish. For many DIYers and avid woodworkers, the challenge is in choosing what to use. In most cases, you will have to choose between polycrylic and Polyurethane. 

These coatings are essential when it comes to finishing your woodworking pieces, as they ensure the durable finish that you want. However, you should only pick one. The best way to make a good choice is by understanding each, their best uses, and more.