Polyurethane is a common polymer mainly used as a finish coating for wood in furniture and flooring. Polyurethane hardens to a shiny finish and protects wood from dirt, wear and damage. Getting poly to dry faster makes sense, so that the floor or furniture piece varnished is available for use faster. The drying time of polyurethane varies depending on room conditions and application thickness.
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Oil-based polyurethane lasts longer -- 9 to 12 years -- than water-based poly -- 7 to 10 years, but water-based poly dries a lot faster. If drying time is a major constraint for you, use water-based polyurethane.
Urethane accelerators are additives that reduce the drying time of polyurethane finishes without significantly affecting the major physical properties of the varnish. Polyurethane is supplied in two parts: base component and activator component. After mixing these two components properly, the accelerator is added, in amounts recommended by the manufacturer. Mix the mixture thoroughly and apply it to the surface of the wood. Exceeding recommended amounts of accelerator does not further reduce the drying time of polyurethane further, but may adversely affect the substance's performance.
Use electric fans to speed up the drying process; position as many fans as you can in such a way that they allow air to blow across the entire piece. It is not advisable to point the fans directly at the object, as the breeze may cause ripples or bubbles in the finish. An air conditioner can also speed up drying as it draws moisture out of the air.
Keep a space heater in the room to reduce the drying time of polyurethane, but place it at least a few feet away from the object. If heat falls directly on the finish, it may diversely affect the quality of the finish. Make sure you provide plenty of ventilation in the room, to avoid excessive heat build-up in the room. Keep the heater a safe distance from any flammable object. Poly is highly flammable, but only in fluid form, so using a heater to heat the air around polyurethane applied to furniture or a wood floor should be safe.
Apply thin coats of polyurethane one at a time, allowing the poly to dry completely between coats. Applying a new coat over a wet coat will cause the first layer to remain wet, increasing the drying time. Thin coats dry faster, so succeeding coats can be applied in less time.
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