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Polyurethane coating causing smell


Not so new Member
Hello my dudes, I'm hoping some of you might have run across this issue that I am having in the past and know what I can do about it.

I recently built a pair of plywood enclosures for my two pythons. I stained the wood with water based stain and sealed it with clear water based polyurethane. I'm using 100 watt infrared globes with a reflector as heating, with a thermostat set at 32°C (89°F), but whenever I turn on the heating, the whole enclosure starts smelling mildy toxic. I assumed the reflector was getting too hot and burning the wood it was touching so I put a layer of insulation in between, but it made no difference.

Any idea if this is dangerous to the snakes? Or if the smell will eventually stop? Thanks!


Almost Legendary
APS Veteran
Trusted Seller
I've found those coatings to take a fair while to cure. I don't like using them within a month of applying the coating. Plenty of people do and I don't know of any definite cases of it causing problems, but if the smell bothers me a little I don't want to put an animal literally inside a concentrated chamber of that stuff in the air.

If you've only just painted it on in the last few days, it'll likely get better. I've always installed lighting/heating with a sheet of insulation in between them and a coated surface.


Not so new Member
Sorry for extended wait on reply, I forgot that I posted this.
Yeah I put the Cabots Water Based Polyurethane on back in april, and it still smells, but only when I turn on the heating. Ive resorted to turning it with the opening facing downwards and putting one of those electric oil heaters inside for a few hours, but the smell still hasnt gone away. It's crazy.


New Member
Set the box up out side empty & if possible put 2 heat lights in.
Turn lights on close it up with the main doors open a smidge & leave it on for 24-48hrs.
U want to fast cure the chems out.
If poss set a room fan at 1 on low so it airs out the chems as they burn of.
U just want bit of gentle air movement, don’t let it get cool.
U need to bake the paint.