Just received a custom table finished with minwax water-based polyurethane. It's been about a week so I tested applying pressure with my fingernail, which did leave a small scratch if you look closely. I'm just wondering if this is expected for polyurethane finishes or if they should be completely scratch resistant. I'm mainly concerned with if it's fully cured or not (for health reasons)

If the expectation is that it should scratch a bit with my fingernail then that's fine with me. Just don't want to be using an desk that isn't fully cured because that might not be safe from what I've been reading.

More details from a comment posted below:

Since I don't know how hard a fully cured product feels, my main question was how can I tell if it is fully cured or not. The person who made the desk put on 7 coats within 20-30 min of each other spread out between 2 days, so people have told me it may never fully cure so I'm wondering if even if will never reach the expected hardness of a properly applied product, will it still be safe to use as a desk and occasionally eat on (its hard to tell from the smell since the water-based stuff has low odor)

  • 5
    Nothing is completely scratch resistant :-)
    – Volfram K
    Oct 9, 2021 at 5:38
  • 2
    There is lots of info captured in previous Q&A. Search for "polyurethane scratch".
    – user5572
    Oct 9, 2021 at 12:45
  • 1
    Hi, welcome to StackExchange. As already mentioned no finish is completely scratch resistant, although some industrial coatings get close! Waterbased poly is historically one of the poorest performers in this regard and also you picked what may be the poorest entry in that class (Minwax being frequently mentioned as bottom-tier stuff).
    – Graphus
    Oct 9, 2021 at 14:59
  • 3
    Does this answer your question? Water-based polyurethane Vs. Oil-based polyurethane
    – Graphus
    Oct 11, 2021 at 7:03
  • 3
    ...and (literally) nothing short of drinking the liquid finish or actively scraping it off and eating the flakes would be any sort of poisoning risk.
    – Graphus
    Oct 12, 2021 at 16:16


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