Oil based spar urethane?


Avid Member
Is oil-based spar urethane safe for chameleons? I am going to be staining the enclosure and then sealing it. The stain is water-based. Should I use a water-based sealer or is oil okay and safe enough? I can always get an oil based stain if I should stay consistent.
Would this be okay/safe to use?
The back and sides of the enclosure are wood, so I am going to be sealing it and then putting up PVC board.


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Staff member
I would use the water based sealer. The oil based is disgusting. I had to use it for an outdoor enclosure. It took a full 2 weeks gassing off outside. And honestly had this been an inside enclosure I think I would have given it another 2 weeks. The fumes are really intense. I did 2 coats of it.

I do not know if using oil based over water based makes a difference though. If you would have any issues with adhesion?


Chameleon Enthusiast

spar urethane is what you want. Its got the UV stabilizers in it.​

You can use oil based if you want, but as beman said, it takes a lot of work to clean up, and stop smelling. There is nothing wrong with water based milky urethane, just about any wood in your house right now is coated in it, for the last 35+ years.

Then again if you want the ultimate smooth, shiny finish, oil is my go to.

As long as the coating is cured, you can use oil based over water, or water over oil. You do have issues painting water based over oil based, just because oil is so smooth, you have to rough it up first.


Avid Member
Have you considered putting epoxy over it? That's what I did with my custom enclosure. Makes it water tight.

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
Interior or exterior enclosure? For interior, water-based is fine; for exterior, I would use oil-based.
I forget which can go over which, but that's easy enough to look up, and should be on the labels of the respective products.

How fast either completely cures & off-gasses depends on both temperature and humidity; it takes longer in humid climates/cooler temperatures. I always allow a month for either to fully cure (after final coat), then give it the sniff test. If you can still smell the product, it's not fully cured, and I wouldn't put an animal in it—even a screen enclosure with ample ventilation.
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