Those Who Build the Buildings

Those Who Build the Buildings

The Differences Between Oil-Based And Water-Based Polyurethane Hardwood Floor Finish

Ashley Hart

If your hardwood floors are showing signs of age and wear, it's probably time to have them refinished. Refinishing involves sanding away the top of the wood that contains the old finish, scratches, and other damage. Then the new finish is applied. You even get to select the type of finish your floors get so your home has the look you want. Popular options are oil-based and water-based polyurethane. Here's how they differ.

Oil-Based Polyurethane

Oil-based polyurethane is a good choice when you refinish hardwood floors in high-traffic areas. The finish is durable, resists water, and lasts a long time. It's available as a gloss, semi-gloss, and satin finish. An oil-based finish is an affordable option for floor refinishing. However, this type of hardwood floor finish has a very strong odor, so you may need to stay out of your house for a few days when you have it applied to your floors.

The floor finishing company may apply two or three coats of this floor finish, and each coat has to dry several hours between applications and then cure at the end. You probably won't be able to stay in your home during this process. Oil-based polyurethane is a good choice if you want to give your floor an amber hue since the finish tends to yellow over time, and this can be a desirable effect with certain types of wood.

Water-Based Polyurethane

Water-based floor finish is a popular option for residential use since it dries much quicker and it doesn't have much odor. This finish goes on clear and it is available in semi-gloss, satin, and high-gloss, so you can get the sheen that's right for you. If you want the natural color of the wood to show through, then water-based polyurethane is a good choice.

Water-based polyurethane is also very durable and easy to care for. It resists water, but it's always important to clean up spills as quickly as possible on hardwood flooring. This finish also requires multiple coats, but since the finish dries fast, refinishing can be completed quickly so you can get back to your normal routine faster than you can with an oil-based finish. You might be able to apply a water-based finish and sleep in your home the same night.

A downside to consider with a water-based polyurethane floor finish is that it costs more than the oil-based finish. It also doesn't contain as many solids as an oil-based product, so water-based polyurethane usually needs more coats applied and it may need to be applied more often than an oil-based finish.

For more information about refinishing hardwood floors, contact a local professional.


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