Plastic Coating for Wood: A Guide to PVC and Polyurethane Wood Coatings

Wood is a classic, beautiful material used in home construction and furniture. However, untreated wood exposed to the elements can be susceptible to rot, mold, and insect damage. Applying a protective plastic coating is an effective way to keep wood stable and long-lasting.In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the most common plastic coatings for wood:

  • PVC
  • Polyurethane

We’ll discuss the benefits of plastic wood coatings, compare PVC vs. polyurethane, and provide tips for applying these finishes successfully.Whether you’re coating exterior siding, deck boards, or interior paneling, read on to learn all about plastic coatings for wood.

What are the Benefits of a Plastic Coating for Wood?

Plastic coatings offer wood several advantages that enhance its performance and appearance:


Plastic seals the wood surface, preventing water penetration that leads to warping, cracking, and rot.

UV protection

Plastic coatings shield wood from ultraviolet rays that break down lignin and cause fading and discoloration.

Resistance to insects/pests

Plastic leaves no pores or cracks for termites, carpenter ants, and other pests to infest the wood.

Mold/mildew prevention

Plastic coatings deprive mold and mildew of the moisture needed to grow on exterior wood.

Simplified maintenance

Plastic finishes don’t require the scraping, sanding, and re-staining of traditional wood finishes.

Enhanced aesthetics

Plastic coatings provide sleek, contemporary styles in a range of opaque and translucent colors.

Longer lifespan

Plastic wood coatings can extend the life of wood siding, decking, and furniture by up to 3 times.For both interior and exterior applications, plastic offers reliable protection and low-maintenance convenience.

PVC Coating for Wood

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a plastic polymer frequently used to coat wood surfaces. Here’s an overview of PVC wood coating:

What is it?

PVC coatings contain a PVC resin, acrylic modifiers, pigments, and stabilizers that are applied in liquid form then dry into a protective plastic film.

Where is it used?

PVC is a common coating for exterior wood surfaces like siding, trim, fencing, and decking. It’s also used on interior paneling and furniture.

How is it applied?

PVC coatings can be brushed, rolled, or sprayed in multiple thin layers, usually with a primer coat first.


  • Excellent durability and weather/UV resistance
  • Resists yellowing and chalking
  • Wide range of colors and finishes
  • Can adhere to many materials besides wood


  • Not as flexible as other plastics
  • Can feel “plastic-like” vs. natural wood
  • Requires proper surface prep and application

CostPVC wood coating costs $3-$7 per square foot professionally installed. DIY kits cost $30-$100 depending on coverage area.With proper prep and application, PVC provides long-lasting protection for exterior wood surfaces. It’s also budget-friendly.

Polyurethane Coating for Wood

Polyurethane is another popular plastic coating used for wood finishes:

What is it?

Polyurethane is an oil-based or water-based plastic resin. Oil-based versions provide a glossier, amber tone while water-based is crystal clear.

Where is it used?

Polyurethane works for both interior wood surfaces like floors and furniture, as well as exterior applications like decks and siding.

How is it applied?

Polyurethane can be wiped, brushed, or sprayed on. Multiple thin coats are better than one thick coat. Light sanding between coats ensures proper adhesion.


  • Extremely durable and moisture-resistant
  • Maintains natural wood appearance
  • Available in matte, satin, and gloss sheens
  • Resists fading, scratches, and stains


  • Oil-based version has strong odor
  • Water-based version is not as durable
  • Surface imperfections can be accentuated

CostPolyurethane coating costs $4-$8 per square foot installed. DIY kits range from $30-$150.Polyurethane provides excellent protection while maintaining the beauty of real wood. It’s ideal for surfaces like floors that need daily wear resistance.

PVC vs. Polyurethane for Wood Coating

How do PVC and polyurethane coatings compare for wood finish applications? Here’s a quick breakdown:

UV/weather resistanceExcellentVery good
AppearancePlastic-likeNatural wood

PVC is best for budget-friendly outdoor projects where durability and weather-resistance are top priorities.Polyurethane provides extremely tough protection while maintaining wood’s natural appearance. It’s ideal for indoor surfaces like floors that need daily wear-and-tear resistance.Consider where the coated surface will be used along with your budget and aesthetic preferences when choosing between PVC and polyurethane.

Tips for Applying Plastic Coatings to Wood

Here are some best practices to ensure your plastic wood coating project goes smoothly:

  • Carefully prepare the wood surface by sanding thoroughly and removing any grease, dirt, or old finishes.
  • Apply primer first for enhanced adhesion and optimal results from the topcoat.
  • For exterior surfaces, use an exterior-grade primer and coating. Interior-grade versions will fail outdoors.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions precisely, including proper dry time between coats.
  • Use thin, even coats instead of applying too much plastic coating at once.
  • Maintain adequate ventilation and wear protective equipment when spraying plastic coatings.
  • Lightly sand between coats to remove any debris or imperfections.
  • Work in dry weather when the temperature is between 50-90°F.

With the right prep and application techniques, you can achieve a beautiful, long-lasting plastic wood finish.

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