Best Exterior Polyurethane – [Reviews&Guide 2024]

If you’re looking to enhance your outdoor furniture without altering its appearance, we have the perfect solution for you: the best exterior polyurethane. When applied to the surface, polyurethane provides a clear finish that enhances the natural look of your wooden furniture without affecting its color.

Moreover, exterior polyurethane contains a flattening agent that reduces excessive gloss and provides UV radiation protection. Thanks to this natural agent, exterior polyurethane offers a long-lasting finish. To help you discover the best options on the market, we’ve compiled a list of the top 7-rated exterior polyurethane products for this year. Choose the perfect one for your home.

Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane is a clear, protective finish formulated to resist the damaging effects of sunlight, water, and temperature changes on wood. It offers long-lasting protection against fading, yellowing, cracking, and peeling without clouding or dulling your finish. Minwax Helmsman is available in three different finishes to suit your needs.

What I love most about Minwax Helmsman is its ability to protect against the sun’s harmful UV rays, which can cause wood furniture to deteriorate over time. With Helmsman, your furniture will look great year after year. It has a longer lifespan compared to other finishes and is water-resistant, making it suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

I tested Minwax Helmsman Indoor/Outdoor Spar Urethane by applying it to a piece of wood and exposing it to direct sunlight and various weather conditions. It did an excellent job overall, protecting the wood from discoloration, cracking, and peeling. I highly recommend using Minwax Helmsman for your woodworking projects.

  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use
  • Protects against moisture, rain, and dirt
  • Adapts to rapid temperature changes
  • Contains UV protection against sunlight and fading
  • None noted

Can The Polyurethane Work on Materials Other Than Wood?

It depends on the material. Urethane can work on materials with properties similar to wood, such as resin or acrylic.

How Long Does It Take To Dry?

You should wait for at least 24 hours to ensure it dries before you start using any item coated with this urethane.

overall impression
Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane is an exceptional product that I highly recommend for top-quality clear protective finishes. It’s easy to apply, effectively protects wood surfaces from the elements, and preserves the original finish.

TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish

Best Exterior Polyurethane For Big Projects

I recently had the opportunity to try TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish on my backyard furniture, and I was thoroughly impressed with its performance. This varnish is specifically formulated for marine use, offering long-lasting protection against saltwater, UV rays, and environmental factors.

One of the things I liked most about TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish is its ease of application. It goes on smoothly, dries quickly, and leaves no streaks or bubbles. It can be applied using a brush, roller, or spray, providing versatility for different projects.

What truly sets TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish apart is its durability. After months of exposure to sun, rain, and other elements, my backyard furniture still looks great. It hasn’t faded, peeled, or cracked, showcasing the quality of this product.

In conclusion, I highly recommend TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish to anyone seeking a high-quality varnish capable of withstanding harsh environments. It’s easy to apply, durable, and provides long-lasting protection against the elements.

  • Gloss or satin finish options
  • Dries quickly; up to 3 coats per day
  • Contains premium Tung oil, phenolic resins, and UV inhibitors for all wood types
  • Adapts to weather changes and prevents cracking or peeling
  • Somewhat costly

How Much Area Does The Polyurethane Coat Cover?

It covers an area of up to 250 square feet.

How Much of the Exterior Polyurethane Should I Apply on clean Wood?

As a general rule of thumb, you should apply 2 to 3 coats of polyurethane.

Overall impression
TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish offers excellent UV inhibition and waterproofing, ensuring long-lasting durability and a classy appearance. Its smooth formula makes it suitable for various surfaces, from wooden furniture to fishing kayaks.

I recently used Rust-Oleum 9341 Ultimate Spar Oil-Based Exterior Urethane for a project, and my experience was somewhat mixed. As mentioned in one of the reviews I came across, the product is quite thick on the brush and can be challenging to level out. However, I found it relatively easy to apply with minimal brush marks, and it didn’t dry too quickly, allowing me to work with it for a decent amount of time.

I applied three coats of this urethane over a stained finish, and the results were pleasing. The first coat didn’t have an even sheen, but the final coat looked fantastic with a consistent satin gloss. It’s important to note that the product took some time to fully cure, even after exposure to high temperatures for several days.

Overall, Rust-Oleum 9341 Ultimate Spar Oil-Based Exterior Urethane is a decent product. While it has its drawbacks, it ultimately provides a beautiful finish. As always, thorough research is essential before purchasing to ensure it meets your specific needs and preferences.

  • Satin finish and natural look due to oil-based formulation
  • Adapts to weather changes
  • Fast drying profile allows for quicker recoating
  • Offers waterproof finish, mold, and mildew resistance
  • The finish is somewhat glossy

Can I Use This Polyurethane on Metal Items?

Yes, thanks to its somewhat thick consistency, this exterior polyurethane can be applied to metal items such as steel.

For How Long Do I Wait Before I Can Use The Coated Surface?

For light use, you want to wait for at least 24 hours. However, for regular use, you want to wait for at least 3 days.

overall impression
If you’re looking for the ultimate polyurethane option for optimal protection and durability, Rust-Oleum 9341 is a suitable choice. It offers an attractive satin finish, weather and water resistance, and the ability to withstand UV rays.

Rust-Oleum Water-Based Urethane features a low odor and non-yellowing formula, making it eco-friendly and safe for home use, especially in households with young children or pets.

Despite its focus on safety, it delivers excellent functionality and durability. The low-odor formula makes it easy to apply, and it dries in just 30 minutes, covering an area of up to 87 square feet. Its quick-drying profile allows for recoating in just 2 hours, and the non-yellowing formula is suitable for various wood types. It offers weather and UV resistance, protecting against UV rays and preventing mold and mildew buildup.

  • Low odor formula
  • Crystal-clear satin finish for a natural wood look
  • Allows up to 3 coats in just a day
  • Non-yellowing formula preserves the surface look
  • Its clear color changes to milky when wet

Can I Use This Exterior Polyurethane for Interior Furniture?

No, this urethane is specially formulated for exterior furniture due to its outdoor properties. It is not advised for use on interior furnishings.

How Do I Apply It?

It is advised to spray this exterior urethane rather than brush it or roll it, as it tends to be a little light.

overall impression
Rust-Oleum Water-Based Urethane offers eco-friendly properties while thriving outdoors. It enhances the aesthetics of outdoor furniture and wooden equipment while remaining safe, even in homes with young children or playful pets.

Deft Interior Exterior Water-Based Polyurethane Finish

Best Exterior and Interior Polyurethane

Formulated to meet environmental regulations, Deft Interior Exterior Polyurethane can be used both indoors and outdoors. Its low odor and low VOC profile ensure a toxin-free and irritation-free application process.

Using the latest technology, this water-based urethane offers a surface coating that is twice as durable. Available in a glossy finish, it gives any wooden surface a sleek and attractive look. Its UV protection prevents fading and disintegration, maintaining the surface’s appearance over prolonged periods. It also features a protective waterproof and dirt-proof barrier for extra preservation. Thanks to this durable formula, you can even use this polyurethane for marine applications on items such as boats, kayaks, or canoes.

  • Suitable for interior, exterior, and marine applications
  • Superior UV protection against the brightest sun rays
  • Environmental protection offers a barrier against water, moisture, and dirt
  • Allows a 2-hour recoat period
  • May cause yellowing on painted wood surfaces

How Do I Apply This Polyurethane Finish?

You can choose to apply polyurethane through three key methods: using a brush, a pad, or an HVLP spray applicator.

Can I Use It on Other Surfaces Than Wood?

No, it is advised against using this polyurethane on materials other than wood.

overall impression
Deft Interior Exterior Water-Based Polyurethane offers a cost-effective solution for transforming wooden furniture and equipment. Its waterproof, UV- and weather-resistant finish ensures survival in any environmental conditions.

ZAR 34112 Ultra Fast Drying Exterior Polyurethane

Best Exterior Polyurethane for Extreme Weather

If you experience extreme weather or rapid weather changes, ZAR Ultra Fast Drying Exterior Polyurethane is an excellent choice.

This high-quality exterior polyurethane is designed to work with various materials, including wood, fiberglass, and steel. It can be used on wooden marine surfaces, exterior doors, and patio furniture. Despite its oil-based formulation, it dries in just 2 hours. Its UV treatment protects against UV rays, and its ability to adapt to rapid weather changes makes it perfect for the most extreme weather conditions.

  • Suitable for wood, steel, and fiberglass
  • Super fast drying function in just 2 hours
  • Blended with UV absorbers and antioxidants for protection against UV radiation
  • Oil-based formula offers a clear and natural look
  • Marine wooden surfaces should be above the waterline

Should I Thin the Polyurethane Before Application?

Yes, it’s a good idea to thin the polyurethane before application, especially if you are using the spraying method.

How Much Area Does the Polyurethane Cover?

Polyurethane covers up to 150 square feet of area.

overall impression
Thanks to its reinforced formulation that protects it against extreme weather, this exterior polyurethane is versatile and adds a touch of class to various surfaces without compromising the natural clear look.

General Finishes Exterior 450 Water-Based Topcoat

Best Water-Based Exterior Polyurethane

General Finishes Exterior Topcoat incorporates built-in mildewcides, preventing mold and mildew growth despite being water-based. This eco-friendly and safe topcoat is suitable for homes with young children or pets.

The clear satin finish retains the surface’s original color while providing a natural glow. Packed with UV absorbers, it stabilizes the coated finish and protects it from sunlight. Thanks to the water-based formulation, it dries quickly, although it should not be applied to white or light-painted surfaces as it may cause yellowing.

  • Pre-treated formula prevents mold and mildew buildup
  • Easy cleanup with soap and water
  • UV absorbers maintain the color and durability of the coated finish
  • Water-based formula is safer and eco-friendly
  • May cause yellowing when applied to a white or light-colored surface

How Do I Apply This Topcoat?

You can choose between three application methods: brushing, spraying, or rolling.

Can the Topcoat Use it For Interior Items?

Yes, you can. This polyurethane is water-based; making it a low-VOC topcoat. Additionally, its odorless and toxic-free nature makes it ideal for indoor use.

overall impression
General Finishes Exterior Topcoat offers a safe and environmentally friendly option that adds shine and elegance to wooden surfaces without affecting their original color.


Exterior polyurethanes provide an excellent way to maintain neat and attractive aesthetics for outdoor furniture and accessories. These polyurethanes are formulated to withstand outdoor conditions, surviving rapid weather changes and other environmental factors.

Polyurethanes like Rust-Oleum 9341 Ultimate Spar Oil-Based Urethane offer functionality tailored to the outdoors while maintaining durability. With advancing technologies, you can expect exterior polyurethanes that smoothly cover different types of materials beyond wood.


We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Woodworker's Universe
Enable registration in settings - general