varnish vs polyurethene

What's the difference between varnish and polyurethene? I thought polyurethene is one type of varnish. Is Varathene a cross between varnish and polyurethene?
thx in advance
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brand name for a version of it
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wendi wrote:

It's a quagmire of terms. Basically varnish is a natural product and polyurethane is a manmade product. Flecto Varathane (trade name) is a polyurethane, but the can information will just say it is a clear plastic coating. Polyurethane and varnish are similar in application and use, but purist don't like polyurethane saying it is tacky (in the style sense). Non-purists tend to prefer polyurethane because it goes on easier, less bubbles, less drying problems (sometimes), and stays clearer (less yellowing) than varnish.
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George,
Thank you for clearing the confusion. How about durability? Since polyurethane is harder (than varnish), is it also more durable? Is it okay to use varnish (alkyd based) on top of acrylic-based paint?
-thx in advance

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Just when I thought I got all the terms figured out... Here what I read at http://www.doityourself.com/cabinetry/bcabfinishing.htm ...
The article first recommends using polyurethane on kitchen cabinets for high water resistance. Okay fine. It then keeps on referring to the polyurethane as the varnish. At one point, it even tells you to apply 3 coats of "urethane varnish" and wet sand inbetween coats??? And rub with fine pumice or mineral oil!?! Fine pumice??? That sounds too coarse! And mineral oil??? Oil on water-based polyurethane?
Is doityourself.com bogus?
-wen
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Good info but not in context. Polyurethane is a varnish but harder resins used hence the name, urethane resins. Pumice is used when "rubbing out" a finish and it is made in several grades. I used 4F pumice as an abrasive for rubbing out the waterbased polyurethane on a coffee table yesterday. Wood used is maple which isn't open grained like oak so it worked for me. The next step in achieving a high gloss finish would be rottenstone but I didn't want that sheen. Mineral oil is used as a lubricant when rubbing out a finish. It is also used in French Polishing where shellac is the finish. Varnishes don't amalgamate with previous coats so sanding between coats is required for a mechanical bond. I wouldn't wet sand oak as the slurry would get into the open pores and wouldn't be removed without a LOT of effort. Scuff sand and vacuum between coats.
On Fri, 9 Jul 2004 14:56:21 -0400, "wendi"

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doityourself.com gets all its information from trolling around in news groups just like this one. on a scale of 1 to 10 I give it a 3
what would you rate this lame website for morons that don't know any better?
how 'bout it Jim,Artie,Joseph,Binary and the list goes on.
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I wonder if they said that bcause polyurethane is varnish. Not all varnish is polyureathane though.
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Hm... A couple of people in this thread just said that varnish is oil-based, polyurethane is water-based???
-wen

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wendi wrote:

Nobody said that.
Let me repeat: varnish is (basically) a resin and a vehicle. The vehicle is the liquid which carries the resin. Polyurethane varnish can be made with either water or oil (hydrocarbons) as a vehicle.
-- dadiOH _____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.0... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico ____________________________
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Varnish is oil base . Polyurethane is water or oil base. Varnish is used as a generic term for a clear coat for wood either Polyurethane or varnish, as in Varnishing wood.
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Yeah... That's the impression I get. People just use varnish loosely to mean the protective clear finish regardless of the type of finish.

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Varnishes are available in both WB and oil. Polyurethane is a varnish with different resins than other varnishes. I've switched from oil based Varathane, a polyurethane varnish, to WB as it is so much easier to cleanup afterward.
On Thu, 15 Jul 2004 15:36:08 -0400, "wendi"

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wendi wrote:

Varnish is resins plus a vehicle. Plus assorted other stuff like driers.
Polyurethane is one kind of resin, alkyd is another. Both are synthetic. Plain old varnish is made with alkyd resins.
Varnish made with urethanes is harder than alkyd varnish and dries faster. It is a lot of work to recoat or redo because it must be sanded...alkyd sands much easier since it is softer. Sands better too, one can feather it.
Both are available in several sheens. Commonly, gloss, semi-gloss and satin. They all start out as glossy but flatting agents (usually talc) are added to reduce the gloss. One can do the same thing by rubbing out the dried surface with very fine steel wool, sandpaper or rubbing compounds.
A good (key word = good) alkyd resin job looks just worlds better than urethane...doesn't have the plasticky look. Additionally, it is less likely to crack at joints.
For a floor, I'd use urethane. For furniture or cabinets, alkyd. Actually, I'd probably use lacquer for the latter...much faster/easier but not as good looking. Better than urethane however (IMO).
-- dadiOH _____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.0... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico ____________________________
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What a great and clear description of Varnishes! Thanks dadiOH

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Blue wrote:

:) my pleasure. But keep in mind that their are other resins both synthetic and natural. Damar is an example of a natural one (not used in household type varnishes)..
-- dadiOH _____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.0... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico ____________________________
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-thx in advance
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Vehicle is the carrier. In this case, the liquid that carries the solid resins so you can spread them on the wood. The vehicle can be a solvent, oil, or water, or combination of liquids. Ed
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