Duco paints and PU paints are both popular finishes for your wardrobe and kitchen cabinetry. What exactly are they, how are they used, and what are the pros and cons of each? Our architects give you the lowdown, so that you can make an informed choice!

What Is Duco Paint?

Originally used only for painting automobiles, Duco is a premium quality air drying paint brand, which is used for getting a lovely finish on all types of wood or metal surfaces. It is very popular among interior decorators as a high-quality surface paint for kitchen and bathroom cabinets and wardrobes, and is available both in high gloss and matte finishes in a wide variety of colours.

What Is PU Paint?

PU Paint, or Polyurethane paint, is a hard, stretchable polymer pigment coating that is used to surface-finish and protect wooden and metallic surfaces. It provides a smooth and luxurious finish, and is available in matte and high gloss textures. The PU coat protects furniture from moisture, scratches, dust and makes it very durable; a PU coating looks exactly the same for as long as 15 years.

Here is a table that shows a comparison between the two types of paint.

Duco Paint PU Paint
Composition Duco paint is a Nitrocellulose (NC) Lacquer; it is a one component mix PU paint is a coating of a polymer layer; it comprises one or two components
Appearance Duco is available in matte and high gloss finishes PU paint is also available in matte and high gloss finishes, and gives a more luxurious finish than Duco paint
Time for drying Fast-drying Takes time to dry
Application Best finish is achieved using a spray machine Can also be applied with a brush and roller, but the best finish is achieved using a spray machine
Colour retention After some years, gives a yellowish effect Excellent, stays the same if indoors. Some shades of PU tend to become a bit darker over a very long time, but only if they are exposed to the direct sun.
Water resistance Excellent Excellent
Durability Excellent Excellent, will last for over 15 years (longer than Duco)
Metallic finishes Lower quality than PU High quality metallic effect
Maintenance Wipe with moist cloth Wipe with moist cloth
Flammable Highly flammable Less flammable. The polymer surface does not melt when exposed to heat; however it is flammable when directly exposed to fire.
Cost Less expensive than PU. Costs approximately Rs 350 to 450 per litre. Very expensive, almost twice the cost of Duco. Costs approximately Rs 450 to 550 per litre, but the labour component is also higher.
Environmental safety Not very environmentally friendly as it is solvent-based. An exhaust system is needed during application to extract the solvent that flashes off the surface. PU paint is safe for children, as it is free from VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
Strength Very good, superior strength. PU has greater strength than Duco.
Expertise Duco painting requires expertise. PU painting calls for greater expertise and care while painting.

Where Is Each Type of Paint Used?

Both Duco paints and PU paints are used on all types of fixed and movable wooden furniture, and on cabinet and wardrobe shutters. Duco can also be used on sheet metal, metal structures and heavy equipment like automobile bodies; while PU is used on wood, metals, plastic and glass furniture and for all kinds of industrial applications.

PU is preferred for exterior surfaces that could get exposed to sunlight, as it has greater colour resistance. It also does not leave rings with hot coffee cups, and affords a greater level of protection against moisture and heat. However, it takes a longer time to dry and also requires high levels of expertise, making it more expensive than Duco.

How Can You Make Your Decision?

If the budget is not a constraint and you require superior, high luxury finishes, opt for PU coating. It will also last longer and the colour does not fade or become yellowish. Especially if used in an area with high traffic and heavy usage, PU will last longer. The polymer coating in PU is very hard and strong and offers exceptional wear resistance, making it the more durable option of the two.

Opt for Duco paint if you have budget constraints or are planning to redo the décor after a few years.

Note that Duco paint is highly flammable, while PU has a layer of polymer which does not melt when heated; which makes it the safer option for your kitchen. However, even PU is also flammable when directly exposed to fire.

Regardless of which paint you choose, the services of an experienced painter will go a long way to giving you the coverage, final finish and appearance that you’re looking for. Duco Paints and PU paints will both protect your wooden furniture, give it a high-quality appearance and keep it looking good for many years to come.

Need a helping hand with your home décor? HomeLane has an expert team of designers, artisans, painters and carpenters who can get your home décor completed in record time and within your budget. Take the first step to a beautiful home!


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