How Long Does Minwax Polyurethane Take to Dry on Floors?

Polyurethane Drying Time

Minwax polyurethane is one of the most popular and versatile products in the finishing world. Being flexible, strong, and durable, it has many uses, including as a sealant for wooden surfaces such as tabletops and hardwood floors.

With polyurethane getting more popular as a finish for hardwood floors, just how long it takes to dry once you apply it on a surface is still a question in the mind of beginners and DIYers who are using the product for the first time.

To answer in short, if you apply a thin coat of Minwax polyurethane correctly (using a high-quality, natural bristle or foam brush), it should not take more than 4-6 hours to dry under normal conditions with a dry and low-humidity environment.

But, before getting and using the poly finish, you should understand that it comes in two varieties oil-based and water-based. And also, there are differences between the drying and curing times of Minwax polyurethane that should be known.

So, let’s look at those details in the article below…

Drying Time for Oil-Based Polyurethane

Put simply; it takes about 24 hours for oil-based polyurethane to dry properly.

This means if you apply the Fast-Drying Minwax Clear Coat Polyurethane (an oil-based version) to your wooden floors, it will dry to the touch in 4-6 hours.

But you should walk across the surface in your socks – once the first 24 hours of drying time have been completed.

Do not walk on the surface with shoes until 48 hours have passed. And be sure to keep pets away from the area during the complete drying time.

To know whether the surface has dried enough to walk on, give it a sniff test to detect any odor. Then, apply your hand to the surface to feel if it is tacky.

If you do not smell the odor and the surface is dry and not tacky, you can most likely walk across.

The Curing Time for Minwax Oil-Based Polyurethane

To cure the layer of Minwax Polyurethane on your floors, allow at least a month (30 days).

This is the minimum time the oil-based polyurethane will take to cure adequately, which allows you to put back all the floor coverings (such as rugs) and furniture that were in the room.

When the polyurethane is dry on the surface, it generally means the oil solvent has evaporated; you can add another coat or do a little sanding.

On the other hand, curing is when the polyurethane bonds with and into the wood itself. And this will take additional time to complete.

The curing process follows the drying phase. During this time, the resin on the surface and in wood hardens to provide a plastic-like form. Also, this is when the poly resin reacts to the oxygen in the air and crosslinks with the polymer molecules to create a tri-dimensional matrix.

The more coats of polyurethane you apply to the surface, the more the crosslinking process will occur.

This typically means adding additional protection to the wood flooring, but you necessarily do not need more than two coats or layers of polyurethane to achieve the best results.

Because the crosslinking process takes time, 30 days is recommended before you put all your items on the floor, such as rugs, carpets, and furniture.

how fast does Minwax polyurethane dry and cure on wood floor

What’s the Drying and Curing Time of a Water-Based Poly?

On average, it takes about 2-3 hours for water-based polyurethane to dry under the same conditions that apply to oil-based polyurethane.

As with the oil-based polyurethane, give it the smell and tacky tests to ensure it has thoroughly dried.

Once the fast-drying water-based polyurethane has dried to the touch in around 3 hours, you can add a topcoat or do a little sanding to the surface.

After 24 hours, you can walk across the hardwood flooring surface in your socks or shoes. And after about 20 days hours, when the water-based poly gets cured, you can set up your carpets, rugs, and furniture inside the room.

Polyurethane Floors Drying Time

Dry to touch and time required between coats:2-3 hrs4-6 hrs
How long after polyurethane can you walk on floors24-36 hours24-48 hours
Completely cured for usage and to place things like furniture:20 days and plus30 days and plus

Factors that Influence the Drying and Curing Time of Polyurethane

A variety of elements can influence how quickly polyurethane dries and cures, including the base it’s crafted from and the environmental conditions in which it’s applied.

Factors that could affect drying time include:

a) Wood Condition:

Applying polyurethane over raw wood offers the fastest effect. However, if there is a preexisting finish present, this will increase drying time – especially when applying water-based products onto oil-based ones.

Additionally, curing stains or not sanding down prior to finishing layers can also add to polyurethane drying times.

Appreciate the sweat equity involved in diving into your project and fully understanding waiting periods between coats; once you don’t feel any tackiness nor detect odors from an oil base or sense a cool temperature on its surface, it’s ready for another coat.

b) Type of Polyurethane:

It takes roughly 2 hours for water-based polyurethane to dry and 4 hours for oil-based polyurethane to dry. This is because of the difference in the bases used, which are water and oil, respectively.

The dryer the air, the faster the polyurethane will dry. So, you can speed up the drying process significantly if you keep the air dry.

c) Temperature and Humidity:

The drying time of the poly increases if the temperatures are much more relaxed and the air is considerably dryer.

This means temperature levels above 70F degrees and humidity levels above 70% will increase the drying times for both types of polyurethane products.

Using a fan to circulate the air without blowing it directly on the polyurethane may also decrease the drying times.  

You can use devices such as humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air conditioners, and HVAC systems to control the optimum temperature and humidity conditions inside.

d) The Application Method and Thickness of the Poly Coat:

Applying polyurethanes? Not sure which technique to use for that perfect finish?

Going with a spray or wipe-on application is the quickest way and requires fewer coats than brushing or rolling.

But take caution – you could end up with too much product if your control isn’t precise.

Keep it thin for the best and fastest results. Too thick a coat can lead to caking and slow drying, so patience is key when finishing off your project.

Professionals recommend avoiding triple-coat or one-coat options that promise quick dry times – they often disappoint.

Also, remember that gloss and semi-gloss finishes will take a bit longer to dry for both types of polyurethane. So, select your finish carefully.

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