Oil-based vs. water-based sealer – which to use and why

No matter how many confusing names they give sealers, for the purposes of this post they boil down to two categories – Oil-based sealers and water-based sealers.

Oil-based sealers

- Offers great protection - Strong odor - Has an amber tint - Has a long cure time (24 hours or more before recoat)

- Offers great protection (some say less than oil-based, but I haven’t found that to be true) - Looks milky in the can, goes on completely clear - Shorter cure time (4-hour recoat or less)

Water-based sealers

Which sealer should I choose?


There are countless things out there that need sealer, but for this post we are talking about small household DIY projects…furniture, cabinets, doors, etc. For these types of projects, I choose a water-based sealer 95% of the time.

My favorite sealer is polycrylic, a water-based sealer that has never failed me. Plus it’s cheap. It comes in all different sheens, satin is probably the most popular.

Anyway, that is a very simplified answer to the oil vs. water debate, but hopefully you found it helpful!

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