One flooring company may use polyurethane to finish wood floors, while another might use waterbased. What’s the difference?
Every unfinished wood floor needs to be sealed first, with either a sealer or a stain, and then have at least two coats of finish applied. Whether that finish is water-based or oil-based is up to the homeowner. Here are some facts about the two types of finishes:
- Water-based finish dries quickly, and can be walked on with stocking feet within 4-5 hours. Furniture can be moved back within a few days.
- With water-based finish, the natural tones and character of the wood is more apparent.
- Many professionals in the wood flooring industry feel that water-based finishes are better than oil-based.
- It is extremely durable.
- They are much more environmentally friendly and have lower VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
- Oil-based polyurethane finishes appear amber in color, and may amber more over time. They darken the color of the wood.
- It can take 10-24 hours dry to a point where you can walk on it with stocking feet, 4 days until you can move furniture back, and up to 30 days to cure.
- It is very durable.
- It is much more “smelly”, due to a higher level of VOCs.
There are different sheens or glosses of finish, as well. Satin (a low sheen) is a very popular choice. It looks natural and shows less wear. A higher gloss sheen will show wear and dirt more easily, but may be the look you are after. Think of a grand piano–it has a high gloss sheen and shows everything. It depends on how “shiny” you want your floor to be. Here are the choices:
- Matte has very little shine at all.
- Satin is a softer, lower-level sheen.
- Semi-gloss is a mid-level sheen (most prefinished floors have a semi-gloss finish)
- High gloss–just as the name indicates!