8 Hardwood Floor Finishes For Durability And Aesthetics

8 hardwood floor finishes

Deciding on the ideal hardwood floor finish can be a difficult decision, considering all of the available long-lasting floor options nowadays.

However, understanding each type’s unique characteristics is crucial to ensuring your wood flooring maintains its beauty and withstands daily wear.

In this comprehensive guide, we delve into various types of hardwood floor finishes – water-based polyurethane requires multiple coatings three times for optimal results, to moisture-cured urethanes known for their high durability.

We’ll also explore classic choices like wax and sustainable options such as shellac.

We will discuss modern engineered wood flooring offers and provide top picks from trusted brands for each category.

By examining the pros and cons associated with these hardwood floor finishes, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision about your hardwood floor finish.

Table Of Contents:

Understanding the Importance of Hardwood Floor Finishes

Hardwood floors are like the Beyonce of flooring choices – timeless, elegant, and always in style. But just like Queen Bey, they need some extra protection to stay fabulous. Enter hardwood floor finishes.

A good finish not only makes your floors look even more stunning but also acts as a superhero shield against everyday wear and tear.

It forms a protective layer that fights off scratches, scuffs, stains, and water damage while keeping your floors looking naturally beautiful.

The right hardwood floor finish can make your hardwood floors last longer. Water-based polyurethane finishes dry quickly and stays clear, while oil-based ones add a warm amber glow and can handle high traffic like a boss.

  • Durability: A quality finish protects your floors from heavy furniture and foot traffic, so they can handle anything you throw at them.
  • Maintenance: Finished floors are easier to clean because they’re like Teflon for moisture and dirt – nothing sticks.
  • Aesthetics: The right finish brings out the natural beauty of your wood grains, making your floors look richer and more vibrant.

And if you want ultimate protection without compromising on looks, check out aluminum oxide coatings.

They’re like the bodyguards of hardwood floor finishes, keeping your floors safe from fading, scratching, and scuffing, without messing with the color or grain pattern.

Just remember, these coatings usually come pre-applied, so no DIY adventures here.

So, before you choose a hardwood floor finish, do your research. Wax, shellac, penetrating oils – each has its pros and cons. Dive deeper into the different types and find the perfect match for your floors.

Water-Based Polyurethane Finish

If you want a hardwood floor finish that’s easy to apply and clean up, go for water-based polyurethane finishes. They’re loved by homeowners because they dry clear, even though they may look a little milky when wet.

Pros & Cons of Water-Based Polyurethane Finish

One major advantage is that water-based polyurethanes don’t turn yellow over time.

One plus of water-based polyurethanes is that they have low VOCs, which makes them more environmentally friendly and secure to use indoors.

Water-based polyurethanes, however, are not as tough as oil- or acid-cured finishes; thus they may not be the best selection for places with heavy foot traffic.

Top Picks for Water-Based Polyurethane Finishes

  • Bona Mega Clear HD: This one-component finish offers excellent flow and leveling properties with added protection against wear.
  • Minwax Ultimate Floor Finish: It provides superior durability with a quick-drying formula, perfect for residential applications.
  • Varathane Crystal Clear Floor Finish: Known for its advanced self-leveling technology, it gives a smooth crystal clear finish without brush marks.

If you prioritize ease of use and a visually pleasing result without worrying about heavy foot traffic, water-based polyurethanes are definitely worth considering.

Oil-Based Polyurethane Finish

Want to give your wooden floors a warm, slight amber tinge? Look no further than oil-based polyurethane finishes. They’re tough, durable, and perfect for high-traffic areas.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Oil-Based Polyurethane Finish

Oil-based polyurethane finishes offer long-lasting protection and rich color.

They deeply penetrate the wood, shielding it from moisture, scratches, and everyday wear and tear. Just keep in mind that they take longer to dry than water-based options and have a stronger odor during application.

Over time, they can also develop a slight amber tinge that may not suit all decor styles.

Best Brands Offering Oil-Based Polyurethane Finishes

  • Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane: This clear finish dries quickly and provides long-lasting protection for both finished and unfinished wood.
  • Varathane Stain & Poly Oil Base: Save time without compromising quality with this product that combines beautiful stain with strong polyurethane in one step.
  • DuraSeal’s Oil Modified Poly: Known for its easy application process, this brand offers excellent flow leveling and remarkable resistance against scuffs or stains.

Moisture-Cured Urethanes – For Tough Flooring Needs

If you want floors that can handle anything, moisture-cured finishes offer higher durability. Originally made for bowling alleys (those guys know how to party), these hardwood floor finishes are tough as nails.

Your floors consistently endure foot traffic and this suits them best because they can take a beating from scratches, stains, and all the wear-and-tear life throws at them.

challenges of applying moisture cured urethane

Challenges of Applying Moisture-Cured Urethanes

Applying moisture-cured urethane isn’t a walk in the park. It’s a sensitive product that reacts to humidity during curing.

To ensure the best possible results, it is essential to be mindful of the environment in which you apply moisture-cured urethane and take necessary precautions for its successful curing.

Oh, and did we mention the strong smell? You might need to evacuate temporarily while it dries. Fun times.

Leading Brands for Moisture-Cured Urethanes

  • DuraSeal Water-based Polyurethane – Tough and reliable.
  • Lenmar 1K Poly Gloss – Glossy and gorgeous.
  • Absco Grand 1K Finish – Grand and glorious.

All these brands offer top-notch products that protect your floors and make them look stunning. Moisture-cured finishes offer higher durability. But hey, don’t be a hero.

Talk to a hardwood flooring contractor before you go all DIY with moisture-cured urethanes.

Wax – The Classic Choice For a Low-Sheen Look

Before polyurethane took over, wax was the go-to for hardwood floor finishes.

It gives your floors a natural, low-sheen appearance that DIY enthusiasts and historic homeowners love. Plus, it’s easy to apply and adds a rustic charm.

The Limitations of Wax as a Floor Finish

While wax can make your floors look beautiful, it does have its downsides.

Unlike modern hardwood floor finishes like polyurethane or aluminum oxide coatings, wax isn’t as durable and needs regular maintenance to keep its shine.

It won’t provide the same amount of defense against scrapes and marks either.

Additionally, if you ever want to switch to a different type of finish in the future, removing the wax requires professional help.

Most other hardwood floor finishes won’t adhere properly over existing layers of wax.

The Best Long Lasting Floor Options for High-Quality Waxes

  • DuraSeal Paste Wax: This top-notch paste wax provides long-lasting protection while enhancing your wood’s natural beauty.
  • Bona Hardwood Floor Polish: A blend of waxes and polymers designed specifically for wooden floors, Bona’s product adds sheen without leaving any residue behind.
  • Fiddes & Sons Supreme Wax Polish: An excellent eco-friendly option, this beeswax-based polish is free from harmful solvents.

If you’re a fan of the classic look that only traditional methods can achieve, applying a quality floor wax might be just what your hardwood needs.

Shellac – A Natural and Sustainable Option

If you’re into eco-friendly choices, shellac is the way to go for your hardwood floors. Made from lac bug secretions mixed with alcohol, it’s been around for centuries.

It gives your floors a glossy, orange-tinted look that can be customized with bleach or more alcohol.

Durability Concerns with Shellac on Floors

Shellac may look great, but it’s not as durable as polyurethane or aluminum oxide; its susceptibility to scratches and lack of water resistance limit its longevity. It scratches easily and isn’t water-resistant.

However, with proper care, it can still last for years. Check out this guide on maintaining hardwood flooring finishes for more info.

Top Brands for Quality Shellacs

Don’t settle for subpar shellacs. Go for top-rated brands like Zinsser Bulls Eye Clear Shellac Finish and Sealer or Rust-Oleum Amber Shellac Traditional Finish & Sealer.

They are well-regarded for their superior products.

In conclusion,

  • Zinsser Bulls Eye Clear Shellac Finish: Easy to apply with a clear glossy finish.
  • Rust-Oleum Amber Shellac Traditional Finish & Sealer: Gives a warm amber tinted gloss that enhances wood grains.

Remember, always seek professional advice before attempting any DIY project involving potentially hazardous materials like denatured alcohol.

Penetrating Oils – Enhancing Wood’s Beauty Naturally

If you love the natural look and feel of hardwood floors, penetrating oils are your secret weapon.

These hardwood floor finishes soak deep into the wood’s pores, protecting it while highlighting its inherent beauty without any fake shine.

Maintenance Requirements for Floors Finished with Penetrating Oils

While they bring undeniable charm, hardwood floors finished with penetrating oils need regular TLC. Unlike other finishes that create a protective layer on top, these oils are absorbed by the wood itself.

Because of this, they are not as effective in protecting the wood from damage. Plan on recoating every few years to keep your floor looking fabulous.

Top-Rated Products with Penetrating Oils

  • Minwax Super Fast-Drying Polyurethane for Floors: Quality stuff from Minwax, this polyurethane dries lightning fast and is perfect for floors.
  • Bona Craft Oil 2K: A blend of plant-based and synthetic oils that offers high-performance protection, even in commercial areas.
  • Rubio Monocoat Oil Plus 2C: An all-natural option that covers like a champ and is a breeze to apply.

Acid Cured Finishes – The Creme De La Creme Of Hardwood Finishing

If you want durable and elegant floors, look no further than acid-cured finishes, also known as Swedish finishes.

They’re the gold standard in hardwood floor finishing, offering unbeatable resilience and enhancing the natural beauty of your wood floors.

The Challenges of Applying Acid-Cured Finishes

Applying acid-cured finishes comes with its fair share of challenges. These finishes have a strong odor, so you’ll need to vacate the premises until they cure completely.

Depending on the ventilation and temperature, acid-cured finishes can take from 48 hours to a week to fully cure.

Additionally, due to their potent chemical composition and quick drying time, professional application is a must. Check out this informative article on acid-cured aka Swedish finishes.

Top Manufacturers of Conversion Varnish

When it comes to high-end coatings, consider these leading brands:

  • Bona Traffic HD Commercial Semi-Gloss.
  • Lenmar Rapid Seal Quick Dry Sanding Sealer.
  • Absolute Coatings Last N Last Clear Polyurethane Wood Finish.

In summary, if you want supreme protection and a touch of luxury for your hardwood floors, acid-cured finishes are the way to go.

Aluminum Oxide Coatings – The Ultimate Defense Against Wear and Tear

If you want a hardwood floor finish that laughs in the face of everyday wear and tear, aluminum oxide coatings are your go-to.

These bad boys are known for their unbeatable durability and ability to shield hardwood floors from fading, scratching, scuffing, and all sorts of damage.

The Struggles of Refinishing or Touching Up Aluminum Oxide-Coated Floors

The downside to aluminum oxide coatings is the challenge of refinishing or touching up the floors once they’ve been coated.

Since these hardwood floor finishes are applied at the factory level, there’s not much room for DIY touch-ups at home.

If your floor sustains any damage, you may need to enlist the help of a professional for repairs.

why choose prefinished planks

Tips for Choosing Prefinished Planks with Aluminum Oxide

  • Quality: Always go for high-quality planks that come pre-finished with an aluminum oxide coating.
  • Durability: Before making a decision, check online reviews or consult hardwood flooring contractors to find out which brands offer the most durable products.
  • Maintenance: Understand the maintenance requirements for different brands, so you can be prepared. Some may need specific cleaning products or methods.

In a nutshell, while aluminum oxide may limit your DIY touch-up options, choosing wisely based on factors like quality and durability ensures your hardwood floors stay protected for the long haul.

FAQs in Relation to Hardwood Floor Finish

What is the best finish for hardwood floors?

The best hardwood floor finish depends on your needs, but for hardwood floors water-based polyurethane is often recommended for its durability and low VOC content.

What are the pros and cons of wood floor finishes?

Different hardwood floor finishes have pros and cons, like oil-based polyurethanes offering rich color but taking longer to dry than water-based ones that provide a clear hardwood floor finish but may require more coats.

Check out this guide from Minwax for detailed comparisons.

What is the finishing process for hardwood flooring?

The finishing process involves sanding imperfections and applying layers of protective coating like urethane or wax with adequate drying time between each layer.

Learn more about hardwood floor finishes from National Wood Flooring Association.

Protect & Maintain Your Floors With Professional Hardwood Floor Experts

Now that you’ve finished this epic guide, you’re a hardwood floor finish expert.

Whether you want water-based polyurethane for its quick drying time and low odor, or oil-based polyurethane for its durability and rich color, there’s a hardwood finish for you.

If you’re into that classic vibe, wax can give you a low-sheen look, but be prepared for some extra maintenance.

If you’re all about saving the planet, shellac is your go-to for natural and sustainable protection. And if you want to enhance the wood’s beauty, go for penetrating oils, but don’t forget the regular upkeep.

For ultimate wear and tear defense, acid-cured finishes and aluminum oxide coatings are the bombs. Just remember, each hardwood floor finish has its own challenges, so choose wisely.

Armed with this knowledge, you’ll confidently pick the perfect hardwood floor finish for your home.

For your hardwood floor recoating and refinishing needs, contact Sandless in Seattle today for an expert flooring service!