The Best Finishes For Your Hardwood Floors

December 21st, 2018



When refinishing your hardwood floors, homeowners are likely facing one tough decision right off the bat. Do you choose an oil-based polyurethane or do you choose a water-based polyurethane? Both refinishing options have their benefits, and what it really boils down to is what you’re looking for out of your refinishing experience.

The Pros And Cons Of Oil-Based And Water-Based Polyurethane

The best way to determine if oil-based polyurethane or water-based polyurethane is right for you is to determine why each is likely chosen. A few reasons why oil-based polyurethane is chosen are:

It tends to look better – Oil-based polyurethane tends to have a richer, deeper, and shinier look when compared to its water-based counterpart. The effect it gives is essentially giving hardwood floors their quintessential timeless sheen. Over time, the oil-based polyurethane even develops an amber-like color to provide a golden tint.

Longer lasting – Oil-based polyurethane is longer lasting than water-based, and it’s not rare for this finishing choice to retain its sheen for 10 years or more before it requires a refinish again.

Tends to cost less – On average, an oil-based polyurethane finish will cost a bit less when compared to water-based polyurethanes. With the long-lasting finish and lower initial cost, it’s often the more cost-effective option of the two.

While oil-based polyurethane has plenty of advantages, so do water-based options. A few reasons why water-based polyurethanes are chosen are:

Faster dry time – If you’re living in your home while your floors are being refinished, living around the refinish can be somewhat difficult. Water-based polyurethanes dry faster than oil-based, which means your floors will get back to use again more quickly.

Lower odor – Oil-based polyurethane has a certain strong odor to it while it’s drying, and this an odor that can linger for a while after the floors are finished. For this reason, many duplexes, condos, and apartment buildings that use hardwood floors require water-based polyurethanes to be used over oil-based, so the strong odor cannot disrupt other residents.

Looks better on light colored woods – For lightwoods like maple, or woods with a white or grey finish, water-based polyurethane is typically the right choice to make. The deep amber color that comes out as the oil-based polyurethane ages looks great on medium to dark colors but can bring out unwanted notes of yellow in lighter tones of wood. While the majority of hardwood floors have color perfectly suited to oil-based polyurethane, there are some that will be considered too light or too cool-toned.

Refinishing Your Hardwood For Your Needs

With both oil-based and water-based polyurethanes, you can rest assured that you’re able to consider your own needs and make the choice that suits you best. Each pick has its pros and cons, and where one may present a challenge the other will often provide the solution. No matter your choice in the finish, each gives a way for your hardwood floors to look beautiful and last over time.