What is the difference between urethane and polyurethane dumbbells?

What is the difference between urethane and polyurethane dumbbells?

So what is the difference between urethane and polyurethane when it comes to dumbbells?

In the article we will be looking at  the difference between urethane and polyurethane when it comes to dumbbells. 

Chemical overview

When it comes to describing free weights that are manufactured from urethane, or when manufacturers talk about their products that have polyurethane coated heads, it can be confusing to the non-engineering, non-chemical scientists among us, which is most of us.

The terms urethane and polyurethane are commonly interchanged and people often refer to the same product in different ways, however, in order to understand the difference we need to dive into a little bit of chemistry, so here goes.

What is polyurethane?

Scientifically, polyurethane consists of two main chemical elements; polymers and urethane. During the chemical process, the polymers are linked together by the urethane elements which creates a polyurethane material.

polymer chain

Image of a polymer chain

Urethane is just a chemical group, and polyurethane is a material that incorporates many urethane groups. The term "polyurethane" simply means that the material in question contains multiple urethane groups.


urethane chemical element

Urethane chemical element

By altering the actual chemical composition during the processing phase, it is possible to produce polyurethane with different properties, which we will look at next in this article.


What are the properties of polyurethane?

Polyurethane has excellent versatile qualities that can be applied to countless applications. The hardness of polyurethane can be pre-determined by the chemical composition and can vary from 20 Shore A to 85 Shore D (Shore being a hardness scale used to determine how hard a plastic or rubber material is).

Some of the physical properties include:

  • Wide range of hardnesses
    • Polyurethane dumbbells are normally in the region of 85 Shore A hardness.
  • High Load Bearing Capacity
    • The high compression load capability makes it a perfect material for dumbbells.
  • Flexibility
    • This means a polyurethane dumbbell is capable of taking high impacts without permanently going out of shape.
  • Abrasion & Impact Resistance
    • This makes it the idea material for high traffic and high use facilities
  • Tear Resistance
    • Polyurethanes possess high tear resistance along with high tensile properties.
  • Strong Bonding Properties
    • With its excellent bonding properties, this allows the polyurethane to permanently bond to the steel dumbbell heads during the manufacturing process.

So which is it, Urethane or Polyurethane dumbbells?

Due to the fact that the terms urethane and polyurethane are interchanged without batting an eyelid just means that it is a common terminology used for polyurethane dumbbells, which in the fitness industry are generally known as just urethane dumbbells. We discuss urethane dumbbells and how they are more of a commercial grade product here in out buying guide.


Troy commercial urethane dumbbells

Troy commercial urethane dumbbells



So as you can see, there is effectively no difference between the terms urethane and polyurethane when it comes to the material used in dumbbell manufacturing. It is all down to a chemical makeup of a material known as polyurethane which is classed as a polymer. We now know that a polymer consists of repeating patterns or chains and these chains are built up from different chemical elements. Some of the repeating units in polyurethane are urethane groups. The term polyurethane simply means that it contains multiple urethane groups.

So when purchasing urethane dumbbells you are in fact buying dumbbells with a head that has been coated in a polyurethane polymer.

For more information on urethane dumbbells, you can read more in our blog “The Home Gym Dumbbell Buying Guide”.