Polyurethane coatings applied on stair railings

Create a watertight high gloss finish with polyurethane coatings

Polyurethane coatings (PU paints) are hard-wearing, highly-resistant coatings used in industrial and architectural coating systems for steelwork, concrete, wood, and other substrates. It is a reaction polymer, a combination of a polyol resin and an isocyanate hardener or curing agent. Essentially, polyurethane coatings are liquid plastic and they dry to form a paint-like film on a substrate. The properties of a polyurethane can be manipulated by the types of isocyanates and polyols which are used to make it, and so it can be modified to suit a wide range of projects. Polyurethane paint provides durability, resistance to chemicals, water, abrasion, and temperature, as well as an attractive glossy finish.

In this article we outline the benefits of polyurethane coatings, as well as the applications and industries that rely on it. We also look at the different types of polyurethane paint and where best to apply them.

Polyurethane coatings come with several benefits

The physical properties of polyurethane coatings are greatly influenced by the choice of base components, with different formulations strengthening certain qualities over others. It is this versatility which is one of polyurethane’s main strengths. It can be made to purpose for any number of applications. Some of its other strengths are:


  • Water and chemical resistance – Resistance to water, steam, moisture, and most chemicals means that polyurethane is a waterproof barrier, preventing corrosion of the substrate.
  • Extreme durability – When cured, polyurethane forms a hard, durable surface which provides protection from mechanical abrasion, stains and scratches.
  • Quick drying and easy to apply – Polyurethane coatings are fast curing, meaning less downtime and associated losses. Like an  epoxy it is easy to apply, but polyurethane has faster return-to-service times than epoxy.
  • Weather resistance and UV stability – Polyurethane can withstand harsh environments, from underground to offshore, as well as being stable when exposed UV radiation and having thermal stability across a range of temperatures.
  • Attractive finish – Whether high gloss, semi gloss, or matt, polyurethane coatings provide a flawless finish which resists color fade.

Note that polyurethane paint is not the best option for industrial heavy duty areas due to the fact that it lacks epoxy’s durability and the extreme chemical resistance of phenolic coatings. Polyurethane is also sensitive for humidity especially during the application phase.

Polyurethane coating and its most common uses

Because of their extreme versatility, polyurethane coatings have applications across the coatings industry. There are polyurethanes formulated for the architectural, industrial, automotive, and marine coating markets. With that breadth of application in mind, we have listed some of the most common uses of polyurethane paints and what properties they bring to each.

1. Protecting tanks and pipelines

Tanks and pipes present a particular problem for protective coating. The substrate needs protection both from the external environment and from the possibly corrosive contents it is storing. As well as that, they need to protect the contents and the local environment from contamination. For this task polyurethane is used in storage and process tanks, reservoirs, wastewater treatment tanks, secondary containment, water pipe lining and oil and gas pipelines. Polyurethane’s excellent ability to withstand exposure to chemicals, high temperatures, harsh environments including salt water, wind, sand, wet soil and more, as well as being UV stable make it the perfect candidate.

Example product: International Interdur 8860 (AkzoNobel). A two component acrylic polyurethane coating giving excellent durability and long term recoatability with a high gloss finish.

2. Preventing corrosion damage

Polyurethane provides a waterproof barrier between a substrate and the environment. When combined with its UV stability and its ability to withstand harsh weather and environmental conditions, this makes polyurethane an excellent anti corrosion coating. Polyurethane is often applied over epoxy coating, as an anti-corrosion system to provide the best possible protection against all kinds of corrosion.
Example product: International Interthane 1026 (AkzoNobel). A two component, high build, acrylic polyurethane primer/finish providing anti-corrosion barrier protection and long term recoatability.

3. Beautifying and protecting buildings

applying polyurethane coatings with a spray gun in white

Polyurethane coatings can be applied as decorative finishes on wood

Polyurethane is a popular protective coating for the architectural industry. They can be used for steelwork, paneling, infrastructure, as a clear topcoat, a vibrant color, or as a varnish for wood, metal, concrete, and plastics. PU paint is used as a finish on wood flooring, a topcoat to an epoxy cement flooring, and its resistance to chemicals makes it ideal for coating surfaces in laboratories, hospitals, leisure centers with pools and spas, and more.

4. Protecting car bottoms and giving interiors a soft ‘feel’

The automotive coatings industry covers everything from a vehicle’s color coat to underbody protection and internal plastic coatings. Polyurethane coatings’ abrasion and weathering resistance are used for the protective undercoating on a car, and for a vehicle’s clear top coat which seals and protects the color. The soft touch coatings that make a dashboard, armrest, or steering wheel feel soft and luxurious are polyurethanes. Polyurethane is applied mostly as an OEM coating in the paint shop, but underbody coatings are often part of vehicular refinish coating.

Polyurethane coatings specialists in the Emirates

Polyurethane coatings are available in the UAE for every segment of the market. Companies and brands such as BASF, Coo-Var, International (AkzoNobel), Rust-Oleum, Teamac, and PPG all have products in the UAE. If you would like more information about polyurethane paint, or have a more specific need for your project, use the search box above and follow the links. If you need polyurethane coating for a project, our experts are here to help! Let us, in cooperation with our coating partners, connect you with a coating solution. Take advantage of our 100% free quote service by clicking on the “Request a Quote” button below.