Urethane vs Polyurethane: Difference and Comparison

Urethane and Polyurethane are chemicals that are confused with each other because of their similar chemical properties, which are used to create or formulate a product.

The same is the case with the chemicals of Urethane and Polyurethane, which are frequently used as replacements for each other. Educating oneself about the differences between these chemicals shall be helpful while purchasing these chemicals for work at home or in commercial work. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Urethane is a type of polymer that contains a urethane linkage, whereas polyurethane is a polymer that has multiple urethane linkages.
  2. Urethane is commonly used in coatings, adhesives, and elastomers, while polyurethane is widely used in foams, coatings, and adhesives.
  3. Urethane is more flexible than polyurethane, but polyurethane is more durable and resistant to abrasion.

Urethane vs Polyurethane

The difference between Urethane and Polyurethane is that the chemical Urethane is a repeating unit of atoms that are arranged in a specific order. The atoms of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, and hydrogen make up Urethane. In contrast, Polyurethane is a chemical compound comprising Urethane’s reacting atom units.

Urethane vs Polyurethane

Urethane is a crystallized compound that is a pale and scentless, crystalline chemical compound that releases dangerous fumes of nitrogen oxides. They are released when nitrogen oxides are smelted until decomposition.

Urethane is largely utilized in the composition of amino resins but is also utilized in the production of pesticides, fumigants, cosmetic products, and pharmaceutical products.

Polyurethane is a chemical compound comprised of organic atom units of urethane made up through the process of polymerization.

Polyurethane is a compound that is a hard material and is used to develop paints to provide a shiny finish, and also used to design footwear and foams which because of its stiff element. Polyurethane compounds are durable and are also mainly used in commercial and residential furniture products.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonUrethanePolyurethane
DefinitionUrethane is a crystalline compound that is made out of carbonic acid. Polyurethane is a chemical compound that is formed after the polymerization of a bunch of urethane units. 
UsesUrethane is mainly used in insecticides, pesticides and incorporated in pharmaceutical products as well as cosmetic products.Polyurethane is a solid compound used in making footwear and foam and used in paints for shine.
ToxicityUrethane is slightly toxic in nature. Researches have proved that urethane has caused cancer in tiny animals and causes nausea in humans when taken orally in the form of medicines. Polyurethane is not as toxic when someone comes in contact with it.
MalleabilityUrethane is a chemical compound that is very soft, flexible and malleable and has a melting point is 50.Polyurethane is a stiff and hard material that does not have a melting point.
DurabilityUrethane is more resistant to scratches, is more durable and safer to use in paints.Polyurethane is not as durable and environmentally safe as compared to Urethane.

What is Urethane?

Urethane is a compound that was designed in the 1950s-1960s. Urethane comprises units of R1-O-(CO) NR2-, and each is created out of amide and esters of carbonic acid.

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Urethane is a compound that can be molded into varying shapes and sizes because of its docile, flexible, and malleability. The crystalline compound is used for various purposes.

Although the Urethane compound is mostly utilized in insecticides, pesticides, veterinary medicines, and pharmaceutical products.

 However, this chemical compound is not deadly to humans, although the compound Urethane can turn out to be toxic when animals come in contact with it. Research has proved that Urethane has caused cancer in animals orally consuming the compound.

The chemical compound is odorless and colourless but has a metallic and bitter flavor. As urethane is used to make medicine, the intake of urethane material can make a few patients nauseous.

It is a durable material that has load-bearing and compressing attributes and a good friction coefficient that helps maintain its shape and size after a long duration of wear and tear.

Urethane is also used as a paint or a protective cover over enamel because of its durability. Urethane has protective properties, which have a protective covering on furniture from harmful ultraviolet rays, which is also a reason why it is utilized in automobiles.

Some urethane paints contain polyurethane, but the two chemical compounds are quite different from each other. Urethane paints are very flexible, so it is very difficult to make them adhere to particular surfaces or on paintbrushes.

This quality of Urethane paints has innovated the unique urethane brushes which are specifically used for urethane paints. The surfaces are sanded roughly before Urethane paint is applied to the surface.

There are two ways Urethane paint is applied in two particular ways. Firstly, apply urethane paint by diluting it and applying it on the surface in multiple flat sheets or apply a heavy coat and “tip” utilizing an almost dry paintbrush.

urethane

What is Polyurethane?

Polyurethane is a chemical compound that is hard and stiff, which is why they are mostly employed in solid products such as footwear, foams, etc. Polyurethane is also utilized in certain types of paints when the surfaces require special coating as well as shine.

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Polyurethane coatings can be satin or glossy in finish. Regular polyurethane paint may require around 8 hours to dry, so the surface will be receptive to dust particles in the air.

This is a reason why water-based polyurethane was invented for a faster drying process. Polyurethane chemical compound has fastening attributes, which bond it with metals as well as plastic, and plays as a protective coating from ultraviolet rays and other environmental issues.

Polyurethane has also proved to be durable against hydrocarbon solvents.

As compared to urethanes, polyurethanes are tougher and have stronger wear and tear biases than urethanes, but they are mainly put to use for indoor furniture and products instead of outdoor products.

Polyurethane coatings are the more suitable choice for more durable pieces, and they are very favorable over rubber or even steel. They also have more satisfying compression and aging attributes than urethanes, which is why they are used in paints.

polyurethane

Main Differences Between Urethane and Polyurethane

  1. Urethane is a crystalline compound made out of carbonic acid, whereas polyurethane is a chemical compound formed after the polymerization of a bunch of urethane units. 
  2. Urethane is mainly used in insecticides, and pesticides and incorporated in pharmaceutical products as well as cosmetic products, whereas Polyurethane being a solid compound, is used in making footwear, and foam and also used in paints for shine.
  3. Urethane is slightly toxic in nature. Research has proved that urethane causes cancer in tiny animals and causes nausea in humans when taken orally in the form of medicines. Polyurethane is not as toxic.
  4. Urethane is a chemical compound that is very soft, flexible and malleable and has a melting point is 50. Meanwhile, polyurethane is a stiff and hard material that does not have a melting point.
  5. Urethane is more resistant to scratches, is more durable and safer to use in paints as compared to when Polyurethane is mixed with paint. 
Difference Between Urethane and Polyurethane
References
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0032386115300100
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0032386198007265

Last Updated : 16 June, 2023

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