XTKkoKCOyMjq scaled Which Finish Is Right For Your Hardwood Floors? 1

Which Finish Is Right For Your Hardwood Floors?

Have you ever heard the old saying, “you can’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, when it comes to hardwood floors, that adage holds true. Ultimately, the longevity of your flooring depends on the type of finish you choose.

Hardwood floors are an investment in your home and selecting the right finish is key to ensuring your flooring looks beautiful for years to come. From oil-based polyurethane to water-based polyurethane, there are several options available for protecting and preserving your wood floors. But which one is best for you?

The answer to this question varies from homeowner to homeowner; however, one thing is certain: selecting the right finish can make all the difference between a hardwood floor that looks good and a hardwood floor that looks great. In this article, we will explore all of your options so you can make an informed decision when it comes time to select the right finish for your hardwood floors.

What Is A Hardwood Floor Finish?

A hardwood floor finish is like a coat of armor for your floors. It protects them from everyday wear and tear, giving them a beautiful luster that can last for years. Think of it as the icing on the cake – with the right finish, you’ll be able to enjoy your hardwood flooring for a long time!

As a handyman, I recommend assessing the type of hardwood in your home before choosing an appropriate finish. Different types of wood need different levels of protection, so it’s important to pick something that will keep your wood looking great for years to come.

Now that you know why you should use a hardwood floor finish, it’s time to find out what kind is right for you. There are several options available, each with its own unique benefits and drawbacks. Let’s explore those now…

Types Of Hardwood Floor Finishes

When it comes to hardwood floor finishes, there are several types out there. In fact, over 50 percent of hardwood floors in the United States are finished with oil-based polyurethane. As a handyman, I know just how important it is to choose the right finish for your hardwood floors. Here’s a quick rundown of the four most popular types:

  1. Water-based Polyurethane: This type of finish dries quickly and resists yellowing better than oil-based alternatives.

  2. Oil-modified Polyurethane: This finish features a mix of both water and oil elements which makes it more durable and resistant to scratches while still allowing some time for adjustment during application.

  3. Wax: If you’re looking for something that’s easy to apply and gives off a glossy shine, wax is your best bet. It also doesn’t require any sanding between coats and wears away smoothly over time.

  4. Acrylic Urethane: As the most durable option on the market, acrylic urethane stands up to heavy foot traffic while also providing great stain resistance and color retention capabilities. The first step in selecting the perfect finish for your hardwood floors is deciding which of these four options will provide you with the best results based on your needs, budget and style preference. Next up we’ll delve into the pros & cons of oil-based polyurethane so you can determine if it’s right for you!

Pros & Cons Of Oil-Based Polyurethane

Oil-based polyurethane is a classic finish that many handymen have used for years when finishing hardwood floors. It’s a great option if you’re looking for something that provides great protection against wear and tear. Plus, you can get it in various sheens to fit your desired look. But before making a decision, there are some pros and cons to consider.

One of the advantages of using oil-based polyurethane is that it’s extremely durable and resists staining, water damage and scratches more than other finishes. With regular maintenance, this type of finish could last up to 10 years or more! But there are some drawbacks to be aware of as well.

The major downside of oil-based polyurethane is that it takes hours—or even days—to dry completely, so it requires plenty of patience and preparation before you can walk on the floor again. It also has a strong odor while drying, so make sure you open windows or use fans to ventilate the room during application. Lastly, this type of finish has been known to yellow over time due to its higher VOC levels.

So while oil-based polyurethane offers great protection and durability, it also comes with certain inconveniences like long drying times and odors that need to be taken into consideration before making a decision about your hardwood floors’ finish.

Pros & Cons Of Water-Based Polyurethane

Water-based polyurethane is a great choice when it comes to hardwood floor finishes. It provides an attractive, durable finish and can be applied quickly. It’s also easy to clean up, since you just need soap and water. Plus, water-based polyurethane has a low odor during application.

However, there are some drawbacks to this type of finish. First, it requires more coats than oil-based finishes do – usually at least four. Secondly, while it dries fast – usually in one to two hours – it takes longer for the finish to cure completely. And finally, water-based polyurethane won’t last as long as oil-based finishes will.

It’s important to note that water-based polyurethane performs best on soft woods like pine or fir; if you’re using hard woods like oak or maple, you may want to opt for an oil-based finish instead.

TIP: To get the most out of your hardwood floor finish, make sure you follow all preparation instructions before applying the product. Take your time and use a quality brush or roller for even coverage and thorough penetration into the wood grain.

Pros & Cons Of Wax

Wax is the shining star of hardwood floor finishes. It has a warm, inviting lustre that can make any room look more welcoming. As if the glow itself was a living symbol for the wood’s natural beauty and protection.

Applying wax to your hardwood floors is an easy task, but it does require some know-how. You’ll need to start by sanding down any existing finish and cleaning the floor thoroughly before applying a thin coat of wax with a cloth or applicator pad. Then you’ll need to buff out any excess wax with another clean cloth.

Afterward, you’ll have glossy floors that will resist scratches and other damage from everyday wear and tear. Wax also offers an affordable alternative to other finishes, so it’s a great choice for homeowners on a budget. But keep in mind that wax won’t last as long as other types of finishes, so you may have to reapply it periodically over time.

Pros & Cons Of Shellac

Shellac is the next finish we’ll talk about. It’s a popular choice for hardwood floors, but it’s important to understand its pros and cons so you can make an informed decision. Here’s what you need to know before deciding on shellac:

First, let’s start with the basics. Shellac is made from a type of resin secreted by the female lac bug and dissolved in alcohol. It comes in clear or amber colors and has a glossy finish when applied.

When it comes to benefits, shellac offers several advantages:

  1. It’s easy to apply – all you need is a brush or cloth;
  2. It dries quickly;
  3. It gives your floor a glossy finish that will last for years with proper maintenance.

But there are drawbacks as well. Shellac won’t stand up to heavy traffic or water damage, so it may not be the best choice if you have kids or pets running around your house. Additionally, shellac doesn’t adhere well to existing finishes like varnish or polyurethane, so you may need to strip off any existing coatings before applying it.

So while shellac provides a beautiful glossy look, you’ll want to weigh its advantages and disadvantages carefully before making your decision. Onwards now – let’s dive into the pros & cons of lacquer!

Pros & Cons Of Lacquer

Lacquer is the shiny, glossy finish of choice for many hardwood floors. It’s a symbol of high-end style and sophistication, but this luxurious look comes with some drawbacks too. Let’s dive into the pros & cons of lacquer to see how it can help you decide if it’s right for your flooring.

As far as wood finishes go, lacquer stands out with its high-sheen gloss and slick surface. Applying this finish to your flooring can instantly transform a room, giving it an elegant, modern feel. Plus, since it reinforces the natural color of the wood, it brings out its true beauty. Handymen know that when it comes to making an impression, nothing beats lacquer!

Unfortunately, this luxurious finish may be too much for some homeowners. Lacquer requires more maintenance than other finishes due to its susceptibility to scratches and dings. Additionally, if not applied correctly this coating can end up looking uneven or streaky – no one wants that on their floors! All in all, lacquer is perfect for those who want a glitzy look in their home but are willing to put in extra effort to keep it looking great over time.

The decision between lacquer and another finish ultimately falls down to personal preference and lifestyle needs. Consider both your design goals and maintenance routine before choosing which hardwood floor finish will fit best in your home.

Pros & Cons Of Varnish

Alright, so the last finish we gotta talk about is varnish. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a bit of extra protection for your hardwood floor. Varnish is made up of resins, oils, and solvents that come together to create a protective finish. It’s popular because it can be applied with either brush or roller and looks really good when it’s dry.

When applying varnish, you need to make sure you prep the surface properly – sanding it down and removing any dirt or dust. It’s important to be careful when applying varnish so it goes on evenly and doesn’t leave streaks. Once it’s on there, though, you can expect a long-lasting finish that resists scuffs and scratches.

So what are the drawbacks? Well, varnish takes quite a while to dry – usually overnight – which means you’ll have to wait before walking on your floors again. Also, if water gets onto the surface then the varnish may start to wear away more quickly than other finishes do. But overall, it’s still one of the best choices out there for protecting your hardwood floors!

That brings us to another type of floor finish – moisture-cured urethane…

Pros & Cons Of Moisture-Cured Urethane

So, we’ve now looked at the pros and cons of varnish – what about moisture-cured urethane? Moisture-cured urethane is a great option when it comes to hardwood floor finishes. It’s an incredibly durable finish, so you won’t have to worry about having to redo your floors for years! Here are some key points about this finish:

• It’s very strong and long-lasting, with a lifespan of up to 10 years. • It’s great at protecting hardwood from scratches, wear and tear, dirt, and other damage. • This finish is also resistant to water, making cleaning much easier. • It provides a glossy shine that looks amazing in any home.

These features make moisture-cured urethane a great choice if you’re looking for an effective finish that will keep your hardwood floors looking great for years to come. The only real downside is that this type of finish can be tricky and time consuming to apply – but the results are worth it! With proper installation and maintenance, you can ensure your hardwood floors will stay beautiful. Now let’s look at the pros & cons of aluminum oxide as another option for hardwood floor finishes…

Pros & Cons Of Aluminum Oxide

It’s almost unbelievable how many floor finishes are available today! It’s a good thing that we have so much choice, because it means you can pick the perfect finish for your hardwood floors.

The latest finish on the scene is aluminum oxide. It has been around for a few years now, and it seems like every handyman I know is raving about it. This type of finish offers a great combination of durability and style.

Aluminum oxide finish provides excellent scratch resistance, making it ideal for high-traffic areas of your home. Plus, it comes in different sheens – from matte to glossy – so you can choose the perfect look for your floors. And unlike traditional urethane finishes, aluminum oxide doesn’t yellow over time. So if you’re looking for something that will last longer and look better than traditional finishes, this may be an excellent option for you.

On the other hand, aluminum oxide isn’t cheap and may require professional installation to get the best results. As with any flooring product, make sure to research all the pros and cons before making your decision. With all these factors in mind, only you can decide if aluminum oxide is right for your hardwood floors!

Pros & Cons Of Oil-Modified Urethane

So, you’re looking at oil-modified urethane for your hardwood floor finish. It’s a popular option for many homeowners, and it comes with its own set of pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look.

Oil-modified urethane is a common choice because it provides an extra layer of protection as well as an attractive sheen. The sheen isn’t too shiny, so it won’t look gaudy or cheap – perfect if you want to maintain the natural beauty of your hardwood floors. And while it’s not as durable as other finishes, it still stands up well to scratches and scuffs from everyday wear and tear.

One downside of oil-modified urethane is that it can be time consuming to apply. Depending on the size of the space, you may need several coats, which could add significantly to the total project cost. Additionally, some people find that oil-modified urethane takes a long time to dry completely – sometimes even longer than advertised by the manufacturer.

The good news is that with proper care and maintenance, an oil-modified urethane finish can provide lasting protection and a nice aesthetic appeal for many years to come. Now let’s move on to looking at the pros & cons of conversion varnish…

Pros & Cons Of Conversion Varnish

Statistics show that conversion varnish is one of the most popular hardwood floor finishes. This finish has a unique combination of characteristics that make it both attractive and durable. But, like any other finish, there are pros and cons to using it for your hardwood floors. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of conversion varnish.

The biggest advantage of using conversion varnish is its durability. It is highly resistant to scratches, scuffs, and dirt buildup, making it an ideal choice for busy households with pets or kids running around all the time. Additionally, it offers superior protection against moisture and ultraviolet (UV) light damage, so you don’t have to worry about fading or discoloration over time.

On the flip side, there are some drawbacks to this floor finish as well. For starters, it tends to be more expensive than other types of finishes because it requires special tools and applications techniques. Also, due to its thickness and high glossiness levels, you can expect a longer drying time after application compared to oil-modified urethane or acid-cured urethane finishes. Lastly, this finish may yellow over time if exposed to direct sunlight too often – something that’s not ideal for those who prefer light colors on their floors.

In short, conversion varnish can provide your hardwood floors with superior durability while still maintaining an attractive look – though there are some trade-offs in terms of cost and maintenance requirements that should be taken into consideration when choosing a finish. Moving onto the next option available – let’s take a look at the pros & cons of acid-cured urethane…

Pros & Cons Of Acid-Cured Urethane

When it comes to hardwood floor finishes, you’ve got a lot of choice. One option is acid-cured urethane. This finish has its pros and cons – let’s take a look at them.

The main advantage of this finish is that it gives your floors a glossy shine which can last for up to 10 years or more with proper maintenance. Plus, it’s fairly easy to apply and won’t require any extra sanding like conversion varnish would. However, there are some drawbacks to consider too.

It’s important to note that this finish needs to cure in a controlled environment, so it may not be the best choice if you need the job done quickly. Also, acid-cured urethane can be tricky to repair if you ever scratch or damage your flooring, as the patch won’t match unless you use exactly the same kind of finish originally applied.

Now that we’ve looked at the pros and cons of acid-cured urethane, it’s time to find out how to choose the right finish for your hardwood floors…

How To Choose The Right Finish For Your Hardwood Floors

Picking the perfect hardwood floor finish can be perplexing. With a plethora of options, it’s paramount to prioritize the purpose and process of selecting your desired outcome. Perusing this post will provide peace of mind when exploring the right choice for you.

Making the most suitable selection starts with surveying specifications. Selecting a stain color is step one; acrylic-impregnated floors require sanding while polyurethane requires no sanding. Next, consider your lifestyle and preferences; do you need an easy-to-clean surface or an elegant glossy finish? To make sure your hardwood floor stands up to everyday wear and tear, opt for a durable finish such as oil-modified urethane.

These finishes can help you create a unique look that lasts, but you must maintain it properly to ensure its longevity. Regular cleaning with gentle products is essential, as well as periodically applying additional coats of finish to protect against scratches and scuffs. Knowing how to care for your wood floors will also extend their life and keep them looking fresh and new for years to come.

Maintenance Tips For Hardwood Floor Finishes

As a handyman, I’ve seen a thing or two about maintaining hardwood floor finishes. As such, I’m going to pass on my wisdom and share with you some key maintenance tips that will ensure your floors will look as good as new for years to come. To start, let me take you back to the antediluvian days of hardwood flooring: waxing.

That’s right! Waxing is still one of the best ways to maintain the finish on your hardwood floors. Not only does it add a nice sheen to the wood, but it also protects it from dirt and spills while helping to fill in any minor scratches that may appear over time. Once applied properly and allowed to dry, your floors can be buffed up with a soft cloth or mop for an extra shine.

Now, if you’re looking for something more than just waxing – like perhaps a polyurethane finish – then you should be aware of how long-lasting and low-maintenance this product is. Polyurethane offers excellent protection against water damage and wear and tear, so no need for frequent touch-ups! But keep in mind that even with these finishes, regular cleaning and spot treatment are essential for keeping them looking their best.

So there you have it: waxing for a timeless sheen and polyurethane for excellent protection – two great solutions when it comes to maintaining your hardwood floor finishes!


Choosing the best finish for your hardwood floors can be a daunting and difficult decision. With so many options, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each type of finish in order to make the right choice for your home. Whether you opt for an oil-based polyurethane, water-based polyurethane, wax, conversion varnish or acid-cured urethane, proper maintenance and care will ensure that your hardwood floors last for years to come.

For functional flooring that stands up to daily wear and tear, oil-based polyurethane is a prime pick. Water-based polyurethane offers a similar level of protection while being less toxic than its oil-based counterpart. Wax offers a natural look with enhanced durability while conversion varnish adds a glossy shine and increased scratch resistance. Finally, acid-cured urethane provides a clear coat that is highly resistant to moisture damage.

Ultimately, selecting the right hardwood floor finish all boils down to personal preference and how much maintenance you are able and willing to commit to over time. With proper upkeep and regular cleaning, any one of these finishes can keep your hardwood floors looking pristine for years to come!

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