What to Know About the Four Most Popular Wood Floor Finishes

November 9, 2021 11:08 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Choosing a hardwood floor is more than choosing the right wood, grain and board size. You also need to choose a finish, whether you’ve got a new hardwood floor or you’re opting for hardwood floor resurfacing. The right finish can protect your floor and enhance the wood’s natural beauty. The wrong one could turn out yellow, glossy or otherwise unsuitable for your home.

Here’s an overview of the four most popular wood floor finishes, so you can pick the right one for your restoration or new installation project.

Oil-based polyurethane

Traditionalists love this finish, citing its durability. It has three different sheen levels (matte, low gloss and high gloss) and has a low VOC (volatile organic compound) content. It’s cheaper than water-based polyurethane, resists scratches and only needs regular cleaning to maintain.

However, it’s also not as durable as water-based polyurethane, can give off a yellowish color and tends to give off heavier odors. You also can’t spot-finish it like you can with other finishes.

Oil finishes

These finishes are a more modern development, using natural oils or an oil-wax combination. They also have low VOC content. If you want to show off the natural wood grain, this is a great choice, and scratches can be fixed by using a recommended cleaner.

On the other hand, you’ll need to refresh this finish every few months, and add a coat of oil once per year. If you choose an oil finish, know that you’ll be spending more time on it than other finishes.

Water-based polyurethane

These finishes have low or no VOC content, which is welcome news for homeowners. Like oil-based polyurethane, there are three different sheen levels. It’s clear (meaning it won’t tint the wood) and is extremely scratch-resistant. Regular cleaning is the only maintenance required.

If your floors get a lot of wear and tear, know that eventually you’ll have to sand them down and perform hardwood floor resurfacing. However, this finish dries quickly and provides a long-lasting finish once more.

Wax finishes

Finally, wax finishes are coming back into style. These are low-sheen finishes that also have a low VOC content. They add a “warm” effect, and they enhance the natural wood grain. You can even spot-finish trouble areas, without having to perform an entire wood floor restoration.

On the negative side, wax finishes require multiple coats to build up depth, and you have to seal the floor before you can apply the finish. It’s high maintenance, can darken wood and doesn’t have the same scratch resistance that other finishes do. It’s also the most expensive of all the hardwood floor finishes.

When deciding what kind of finish to use for your wood floor restoration project, consider all the details above. What works for other homeowners doesn’t automatically mean it will work for you. Pick the finish that will serve your needs and your budget.

SNR First Rate Floors is your source for all things hardwood flooring: installation, repair, resurfacing and more. Call today to learn more about our services and selection.

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