Expert hardwood flooring installations
15 Best Hardwood Floor Finishes: Which One Is Right For Your Need?

Whether you want to protect your brand-new hardwood floors or refinish the decades-old ones, the first task is to pick the right top coat. A newly installed unfinished hardwood floor is subject to daily wear and tear.

The beauty of these untreated floors is that you can customize this look to whatever you prefer through finishing, although, the procedure requires a lot of time.

Nevertheless, it’s best to coat all the hardwood floorboards with some kind of finish, or topcoats to protect them from spills, scratches, and scuffs. On one hand, it helps to maintain aesthetics and increase its longevity on the other.

But, the options to do so are rarely talked about.

Each wood floor has some unique characteristics that change the choices of one type of finish over another. They also have different levels of durability, ease, and glossiness, which are some of the most crucial aesthetic considerations. Moreover, your tastes and preferences affect these choices as well.

A little guidance can help you make this a less complicated decision!!

We understand how overwhelming it can be to find the right floor finish. That’s why we have come up with this detailed guide covering the 15 best hardwood floor finishes, including steps to apply them, maintenance tips, and a lot more details.

Continue reading to find the best hardwood floor finishes that satisfy your needs.

What Does A Hardwood Floor Finish Refer To?

A hardwood floor finish is a liquid substance applied to the wood surface to form a hard coating for protecting the floor from scuffs, water damage, spills, and scratches.

This liquid is composed of various chemicals that leave a slip-resistant surface and an attractive appearance at the same time.

The key purpose of this floor finish is to protect and maximize the longevity of the floors.

The outer shell of your timber floor indeed protects from spills, scratches, dents, grooves, wear, and tears. But, your floor finish acts as the ‘Guardian Angel’ of your hardwood in this regard.

Whether you want to finish a raw, unprocessed floor, or refinish a worn-out one, picking a suitable coating is the first step to ensure a smooth and protected floor.

Hardwood floor finishes are brilliant ways to personalize your timber floorboards as well.

Whether you like a dark finish, a light-hued finish, a satin finish, or a high-gloss finish, the options for hardwood floor ideas are endless. We have discussed these options in detail in the upcoming sections. Keep scrolling!!

Important Points To Remember About Hardwood Floor Finishes

Unveiling the hidden charm of a raw floorboard or a ragged floor cover significantly depends on the floor finish you are applying on its surface. Different hardwood floor finishes have individual characteristics, pros, and cons, which can mess up your mind. This happens especially if it’s your first time using floor finishes.

For instance, a water based hardwood floor finish has low VOCs but magnifies the scratches. Oppositely, the Moisture-Cure Urethanes are highly durable, although the content of VOCs is remarkably high in them.

Again Wax finishes dry up quickly but are not that much durable. Contrarily, Shellac finishes, despite being a natural product, are very flammable.

Isn’t it overwhelming?

But, trust us, finishing or refinishing your hardwood floor is much cheaper and easier than you think if you remember these points about wood floor finishes.

1. Drying Time

After applying the finish, you need to wait for some time before you can put another layer or step on the floor. This time is known as ‘Drying Time’ in the world of hardwood flooring.

Each type of finish comes with the manufacturer’s instructions which mention this drying time. Water-based and Wax-based products have the shortest drying time, while Oil-based finishes take 24-48 hours to be fully parched.

2. VOCs

The majority of hardwood floor finishes contain Volatile Organic Compounds, or in short, VOCs which enhance their effectiveness. As the liquids cure, they release these harmful vapors, which affect the air quality of your indoor space as well as the health of you, your family members, and your pets.

Water-Based finishes, Shellac Finishes, and Wax coatings have the lowest amount of VOCs whereas Oil-based urethanes, Moisture-cure urethanes, etc., have high VOCs.

3. Durability Level

Not every type of finish has the same durability level. You should apply a finish that can sustain better against daily wear and tears. Do you have kids and pets at your home? Is your space a high-traffic one? Well, a durable floor finish will protect your investment in these cases.

For example, an aluminum-oxide coat is the best hardwood floor finish for dogs, while, wax-based chemicals are not good choices for the same.

4. Change In Colors

Some types of hardwood floor finishes change their colors over time which can be both advantageous and disadvantageous.

Unlike Shellac, Wax-based, and Water-based hardwood floor finish, oil-based polyurethanes have a slight amber, yellowish tint. With time, it gives your floorboard a yellowish-dark appearance.

15 Hardwood Floor Finishes Options

The difference between a hardwood floor cover that lasts for several decades and one that doesn’t lies in the Topcoat Finish. No matter how many bucks you had to spend on a hardwood floor, you must take good care of it after installation to retain its premium look and boost its value in the market.

If you want to learn the process of installing hardwood floors, you ought to stick to this blog and continue reading.

Your choice of finishing material can enhance or ruin your floor’s beauty and taking this decision is not that easy. Upon searching on the internet, you will find hardly a few options with shallow descriptions, which are not going to satisfy your needs.

For that reason, we have brought not four or five but 15 best floor finishes for hardwood floors you can choose for your space. We researched in detail about each floor finish and jotted down the most important particulars that you need to know to make the best decision for your floorboard.

Keep reading!!

1. Oil-Based Polyurethane: The Most Premium Hardwood Floor Finish

Oil-based Polyurethane is an unquestionably durable option consisting of synthetic resins, linseed oil, and plasticizers. Its strength makes it one of the most sought-after hardwood floor finishes for commercial properties and high-traffic sites in the house. Just vacuum, sweep, and clean daily – these are all it takes to maintain the floor.

Available in satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss sheens, this finish gives a slightly yellowish or amber tint that darkens over time to bring out a rich, warm color. The only downside of oil-based poly you will face is that they release high levels of VOCs.

As a result, you need to shield your respiratory organs if you plan to finish yourself. Moreover, you need to wait for 8-10 hours between each coat and 72 hours before furnishing the room.

Steps To Apply

The oil-based polyurethanes need a pure professional application to get a flawless finish. In addition, you should pay attention while handling them as they contain toxic chemicals. We have elaborated the steps to apply oil-based poly below:

  • Make the subfloor ready by sanding and smoothening it thoroughly.
  • Apply right from the can using pads, brushes, or a lambswool applicator.
  • Start applying the finish from the edge of a wall and carefully move the T-bar toward the unfinished areas.
  • Apply the finish towards the direction of the wood grain.
  • Let the coat sit and dry undisturbed for at least 4-6 hours.
  • Sand between the coats lightly and clean with a tack cloth thoroughly ensuring the finish is dry to the touch.
  • Reapply the finish twice to achieve three resilient oil-based poly coats for the hardwood floor.


Maintenance Tips

  • Maintenance of your oil-based polyurethane-coated hardwood floor boarding includes regular damp mopping and dust mopping.
  • Refrain from doing wet mopping.
  • Among the cleaners, you should use only manufacturer-recommended ones, glass cleaners, and distilled white vinegar.
  • Keep your pet’s claws trimmed to prevent small dents and scratches.

Oil-Based Polyurethane-Coated Hardwood Floor Finish Is Suitable For Which Type Of Floor?

Oil-based poly is best suitable for floors having high traffic areas, and also when you have kids and large furry friends at your home. Applying it on Maple floors gives the best results.

Points to remember:

1. VOCs: They release a lot of VOCs and strong odor during application which affects your health as well as the interior air quality.

2. Durability: Oil-based polyurethanes can last for more than 10 years. If you apply a high-quality oil-based product, it can last around 15 years as well.

3. Drying Time: The drying time for this finish is around 24 hours, whereas the cure time ranges from 4 to 5 days.

4. Change In Color: The oil-based hardwood floors become darker and appear to be yellowish over time.

Pros Of Oil Based Polyurethane-Coated Hardwood Floor Finish

Provides good resistance against moisture.

  • Easy to maintain.
  • A cheaper option.
  • Extremely long-lasting.


Cons Of Oil Based Polyurethane-Coated Hardwood Floor Finish

  • Highly-flammable.
  • Ambers and yellows over time.
  • Super durable.
  • Not too much expensive.

2. Water-Based Polyurethane: The Most Pellucid Hardwood Floor Finish

Composed of synthetic plasticizers and resins, water-based polyurethane hardwood floor finish is a highly durable floor coating material. It has an excellent ability to resist moisture (that doesn’t mean you won’t wipe away leaks or spills ASAP).

These finishes also rank higher in the ‘environmentally safe’ category, venting fewer volatile organic compounds.

Also, during the application, it emits a little odor, which is a big plus if you plan to finish the floor yourself. Water-based poly dries quickly as well! After 2-4 hours of the coating, you will be able to walk on your new floor.

This is crazy how it reduces the finishing time than other options. Being a low-maintenance variety, it only requires warm water and soap to get cleaned up.

Steps To Apply

  • A water based hardwood floor finish is a safe, DIY-friendly, and cost-effective coating option. Take a look at the steps below for a beautiful, durable finish:
  • Clean and sand the floor to get a smooth and level surface.
  • Start to apply the finish along the edge of a wall and aim for smooth strokes.
  • Before beginning a new run, gently turn the T-bar in the direction of unfinished floor areas.
  • Don’t forget to leave space to exit the room otherwise you will get trapped in the corner.
  • To apply the finishing touches, use a cut-in pad to drain out any extra puddles of finish.
  • Wait for 2-3 hours before the first coat of Water-based hardwood floor finishes to apply another coat.
  • Repeat the coating process until the entire floorboard has sufficient cleaning.


Maintenance Tips

  • To keep your water-based finished floor cover looking its best, vacuum or dust mop, and wipe with a cleaner and a microfiber cloth at least twice a week.
  • For floors with considerably heavy traffic, dusting and vacuuming need to be done more often.
  • Being low-maintenance luxury hardwood flooring, Wax or Spray Buff doesn’t give you much pain.
  • Avoid walking on hardwood floors putting on sports shoes, cleats, and high heels.

Water Based Hardwood Floor Finish Suitable For Which Type Of Floor?

It’s best for floors in need of a clear finish that dry up quickly, for instance, Oak, Pine, cork, and Plywood floors.

Points to remember:

1. VOCs: It has a low odor and fewer VOCs. Therefore, this type of finish is environmentally safe and doesn’t affect your or your pets’ health.

2. Durability: Water-based finishes are highly scratch resistant and can last around 10 years.

3. Drying Time: It takes 6 hours for water-based finishes to dry up and 24-72 hours for a full cure after which you can move all the furniture back into place.

4. Change In Color: The water-based poly leaves a natural finish and doesn’t yellow or amber over time.

Pros of Water Based Hardwood Floor Finish

  • Smooth and shiny finish.
  • No yellowing.
  • Low odor, low VOCs.
  • Effortless application and cleanup.


Cons of Water Based Hardwood Floor Finish

  • High gloss defines every scratch even more.
  • Looks gold and doesn’t give a rich glow like an Oil-based variant.

3. Shellac Finishes: The Eco-Friendly Floor Finish

Shellac finish is being used to finish and seal hardwood floors for over a century. Made from secretions of Lac bug with denatured alcohol, it’s a high-gloss finish, and dries to an orange tint. Shellac is one of the best floor finishes for a hardwood that is very safe once hardened.

The VOC content of this tough floor finish is significantly low, thereby making it an ideal choice for homeowners.

Although it contains alcohol as one of the main constituents, this particular floor coating material is vulnerable to damage from ammonia and alcohol. Shellac can’t hold foot traffic as much as oil and water based poly but it’s a premium finish highlighting the natural beauty of wood grains.

The biggest advantage is that it’s easy to repair this hardwood floor finish if it’s distressed.

Steps To Apply

  • Shellac is not a suitable floor finishing option in very humid weather since it turns white under excessive moisture conditions. A pro-level finish can only help you carve out the ideal beauty of a Shellac floor. Check out the steps below:
  • Lightly buff your existing floor with 200-grit sandpaper to dull any shine after which thoroughly clean and vacuum the floor.
  • Put on a pair of rubber gloves and use a brush to apply the diluted Shellac to the floor.
  • Start from the doorway in the furthest corner and gently brush in the floorboards’ direction.
  • Let the first coat sit and dry for 6 minimum at least. Then sand it by hand lightly with the same 200-grit sandpaper.
  • Again apply a second coat in the same way and allow it to dry after which, buff it using your sandpaper.
  • Finally, put in a topcoat of raw Shellac or ‘uncut’ Shellac. Let it cure completely for 48-72 hours before using the floor.


Maintenance Tips

  • A Shellac finished floor needs regular cleaning with a rag.
  • First, dilute a biodegradable, mild, liquid soap in lukewarm water.
  • Then, immerse a soft rag into the mixture and squeeze out the excess water completely.
  • Finally, wipe down the floor surface with the damp rag and remove excess water (if any).
  • In the kitchen area, place a mat or rug near the sink.

Shellac Finish Is Suitable For Which Type Of Floor?

Shellac finishes are ideal for Oak, Mahogany, Walnut, and veneer woods as it defines the natural grains of the wood even more.

Points to remember:

1. VOCs: It doesn’t emit a lot of VOCs but certainly it’s not a zero-VOC product. Shellac finishes are quite sustainable which doesn’t affect your health.

2. Durability: Shellac is durable but not as much as water-based or oil-based variants. If maintained well, it can last for 5-7 years, even in high-traffic areas subjected to moisture, and humidity.

3. Drying Time: Shellac Finishes take 30 minutes to dry up and can be recoated within 45 minutes. The cure time ranges between 1 to 3 days.

4. Change In Color: Unlike oil-based finishes, Shellac floors are UV resistant and don’t tend to darken with age.

Pros of Shellac finish

  • Sustainable product.
  • Easy to repair.
  • Binds well with oil tropical woods.


Cons of Shellac finish

  • Highly flammable.
  • Less durable than other choices.
  • Complex application procedure.
  • Need to mix freshly before application.

4. Oil-Modified Polyurethane: The Hardwood Floor Finish With The Most Ideal Sheen

Protect your interior floor projects and preserve their beauty with Oil Modified Polyurethane finishes. It’s a fairly long-lasting protective hardwood floor sealer and finish that combines strength with the traditional aesthetics of polyurethane.

Since it’s oil-modified, it’s a low-odor, low-VOC product, and can be easily cleaned up with lukewarm water and mild soap. Being a fast-drying coat, it enables to do quick recoat in a couple of hours. With this protective oil-modified poly coating, get your finish done seamlessly.

Steps To Apply

Give your floor maximum durability and ideal sheen with Oil-modified Polyurethanes. Here is what the application procedure involves:

  • Sand the floor to obtain a uniform and smooth surface. Clean it thoroughly if there is any old finish, wax, paint, dirt, or grit.
  • Apply a thin coat of Oil-Modified Polyurethane finish with a foam brush gently.
  • Brush in the wood grain’s direction with light strokes to avoid the formation of bubbles.
  • Leave it alone for 2 hours until the moisture evaporates. Now, sand the entire surface with 220-grit fine sandpaper to ensure proper adhesion and an even finish.
  • Clean up all the accumulated dust.
  • Repeat this process twice as Oil-modified poly requires three coats.
  • Post the final coat, and keep it untouched for a day.
  • Wait for 72 hours after the third coat after which you can allow heavy traffic and furniture replacements.


Maintenance Tips

  • Oil-modified polyurethane floors need a regular clean-up with mild soap diluted with warm water.
  • Don’t use any sharp or edged objects during cleaning.
  • Microfiber cloth and soft rags are best for cleaning the dirt from the grooves thoroughly.
  • Trim the claws of your pets to protect the floor from grooves, dents, and scratches.

Oil Modified Polyurethane Finishes Are Suitable For Which Type Of Floor?

This type of finish is perfectly applicable for Maple-made gym floors, to the office and home floors made of white or red oak.

Points to remember:

1. VOCs: Oil-Modified Polyurethane finishes emit a comparatively lower number of VOCs and low odor during application than traditional solvent-based products.

2. Durability: An oil-modified poly combines a warm look with the superior durability of traditional polyurethane. If applied and maintained correctly, it can last for 10-12 years.

3. Drying Time: The dry time ranges between 4 hours to 6 hours, and the cure time is 48-72 hours. However, you can start recoating after 4 hours.

4. Change In Color: An oil-modified polyurethane turns slightly yellow over time, which warms up the wood color.

Pros of Oil Modified Polyurethane finishes

  • Low odor, low VOCs.
  • Easy cleanup with lukewarm water.
  • Gives a clear finish.
  • Defines the natural beauty of the woods.


Cons of Oil Modified Polyurethane finishes

  • Changes color with time.
  • Highlights the dents, and scratches.

5. Wax Finishes: The Gentlest Hardwood Floor Finish

Before the 1960s, when polyurethane wasn’t much popular, Wax was one of the most in-demand hardwood floor finishes. The popularity hasn’t diminished still now!

If you want a sturdy, low-sheen, and natural appearance for your hardwood floor, get a wax finish done. The wax seal checks the absorption of moisture to keep the wood from staining.

Either select clear wax to get a glossy finish or a solvent wax to get a satin or matte hardwood floor finish. Both liquid and paste forms are available, which ask for several coats of application.

Wax-finished floors are comparatively a natural alternative that is not much durable as oil and water-based polyurethane liquids. It’s a less-preferred choice for high-traffic areas such as kitchens, or washrooms but favorable for other spaces.

Steps To Apply

  • Wax polishing is one of the simplest ad oldest ways to restore or finish a hardwood floorboard. It’s a natural and adaptable material, free of chemicals, and easy to apply. Take a look at the steps below to get the best possible wax finish.
  • Sand the floor thoroughly to level any undulations and clean the existing stains, finish, and dirt.
  • Dampen a mop, a soft lint-free cloth, or a pad of an electric floor polishing tool to limit the wax solution from soaking in.
  • Rub the finish lightly and evenly in the direction of the flooring.
  • Allow the solvent to evaporate for 4-6 hours which will leave the polish behind.
  • Buff the floor using an electric polisher, a clean towel, and terry-cloth covered sponge mop. Repeat the coat and buff it again to polish it to bring the desired luster.


Maintenance Tips

  • For everyday cleaning purposes, a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar, a dry mop, and a microfiber cloth pad are all you need.
  • Strictly avoid wet-mopping floors with household cleaners as these will strip the wax.
  • Place a thick mat in areas such as the sink, washroom entrance, bathtub, etc., to absorb water.
  • You should place a good-quality doormat, at the exterior entrances to ensure there is no water in the shoes when you step on the floor.

Wax Finish Is Suitable For Which Type Of Floor?

Wax finishes work best for floors where you want a low-sheen finish. It goes perfectly well on almost all types of wood apart from Rosewood, or Cocobolo.

Points to remember:

1. VOCs: Wax finishes are completely natural and don’t produce any VOCs, or strong odors while applying. It’s a non-toxic option to protect indoor air quality.

2. Durability: Although it’s not that scratch-preventive like Oil-based or water-based polyurethanes, it gives sound protection against general wear and tear. With proper maintenance, you can make this type of floor last for 7-8 years.

3. Drying Time: Wax-finished floor covers dry up quickly. The average drying time is 4-6 hours, while the cure time is 24-48 hours.

4. Change In Color: Wax-finished floorboards sometimes darken or yellow over time. Therefore, it’s best to use over timbers already having a warm cast.

Pros Of Wax Finish

  • Little VOCs or odor.
  • Easy to touch up after application.
  • Penetrates deep into the wood
  • Dries up quickly


Cons Of Wax Finish

  • Not much durable as polyurethanes.
  • Labor-intensive application.
  • Darkens over time.

6. Penetrating Oil Sealer Finishes: The Aesthetic Floor Finish

If you love the natural beauty, grain, and depth of the wood, a Penetrating Oil Sealer is a wonderful choice if you are aiming to restore or build a historic home. There is a myriad of penetrating oils to choose from but Tung oil is the most enviable one because it’s easily absorbable and damage resistant.

Unlike the majority of hardwood floor finishes, these liquids don’t create a tough ‘shell’ on the wood’s surface. This calls for the need for a final layer of wax on the top for extra protection.

Made of natural oils, the penetrating oil sealers need a specially formulated wood floor cleaner to stay away from unwanted spots or stains. With this low VOC, low-odor, the finish can be touched up easily if your hardwood floors get a scratch. It’s quite an impregnable floor finish option that requires almost 24 hours to dry – a major downside.

Steps To Apply

It’s better to not take any chances while applying Penetrating oil hardwood floor finishes. They are nearly foolproof and fairly easy to apply. See how to coat your hardwood floor cover with Penetrating oils in the steps below:

  • Sand, level, clean, and dry the surface before application. You may inter-mix 3-4 containers to ensure get uniform hues.
  • Don’t think the finish. Stir it occasionally during the application to prevent thinning.
  • Test the penetration and color of the product on a small wood block (with which your floor is made) before applying.
  • Use a soft bristle brush for areas requiring high accuracy. Rollers should be used for rough surfaces only. A high-quality airless sprayer having a .33 to .43 mm tip also works great.
  • Saturate the surface lightly and back-brush any surplus finish using a pad applicator.
  • Ensure to get rid of puddling by evenly distributing the finish.
  • Maintain a wet edge during application. Apply the finish to the board lengths or end-to-end so that there isn’t any lap mark.
  • Avoid heavy finishes, one or two coats are enough for Penetrating Oil Sealers.


Maintenance Tips:

  • A penetrating oil finish is not as durable as oil-based poly or water-based poly. So, do not wet mop for the initial 6-10 weeks.
  • Use an electronic dust mop or a vacuum to prevent premature wear caused by sand and grit.
  • Place walk-off mats in the high traffic areas including the kitchen for better maintenance.
  • Cut your pets’ nails as they tend to scratch and damage the floor.

Penetrating Oil Sealer Finish is Suitable For Which Type Of Floor?

It gives a natural primer ideal for sealing dry, cork, and absorbent wood floors. The oil penetrates through the wood’s pores and brings out its beauty, depth, and grain without adding any high gloss or shine.

Points to remember:

1. VOCs: These floor finishes are composed of natural oils which makes them a safer option for human and environmental health.

They have an ultra-low VOC formula and don’t emit any chemical scent which makes them an ideal choice to create a low-shine finish.

2. Durability: Most Penetrating Oil Sealer Finishers are composed of highly modified Linseed oil or Tung oil in combination with additives.

Although their durability is lesser than Polyurethanes, they can stay intact for 7-8 years if kept up well.

3. Drying Time: This type of floor is dry to the touch after 4-6 hours based on the wood porosity and 24-48 hours before any kind of foot traffic. Furthermore, you have to wait for 72 hours for a full cure.

4. Change In Color: As penetrating oil sealer finishers are derived from soy, linseed oil, Tung oil, or other vegetable oils they are prone to become amber over time.

Pros of Penetrating Oil Sealer Finish

  • Natural, sustainable product.
  • Establishes the wood’s beauty.
  • Easy to Apply.


Cons of Penetrating Oil Sealer Finish

  • Way too much expensive.
  • Not highly durable like Oil, and Water-based Poly.
  • Requires recoating every 2 years.

7. Acid-Cured: The Most Professional Hardwood Floor Finish

Acid cured finish, also known as Swedish Hardwood Floor Finish or Conversion Varnish is more long-lasting than most polyurethanes. I

t uses acid for curing and has an alcohol base, thereby creating a high-sheen finish supremely resistant to physical and chemical damage. Despite having acid as one of the most predominant components, it highlights the wood’s color, grain, and natural beauty.

Let us tell you that Acid-Cured finishes release very high levels of VOCs and strong, pungent odors while applying. Because of this, you may need to make arrangements for excellent ventilation as well as protective equipment like gloves, eye shields, and a full-face respirator.

Note: We recommend you not apply this by yourself and seek help from experts to steer clear of potential accidents.

Steps To Apply

Let’s unveil a truth – a Swedish hardwood floor is not something you can do on your own!!! They contain extremely fatal chemicals that need proper handling.

One wrong step – and you will ruin your floor. Still, if you want to try it out, here are the safest and most feasible steps:

Before doing anything, rigorously sand and clean the floor to level and smoothen it.

  • Arm yourself with the necessary protective supplies such as rubber gloves, face masks, and eye shields.
  • Start coating the floor surface with smooth strokes of brushes and towards the direction of the wood grains.
  • Start from one corner of the room and gradually expand the area.
  • Make sure the wall doesn’t get stained.
  • Once the first finish is done, allow it to sit for 4 hours before another coating.
  • In between the two coats, buff the floor to polish and remove any excess finish.
  • After the 3rd application, leave it untouched for at least 72 hours before using the room.
  • It’s advisable to get in touch with a professional and ask him/her to assess the floor after you have applied the acid-cured finish.


Maintenance Tips

  • Don’t even think about waxing or using Murphy’s oil soap.
  • Never wet mop a Swedish finish wood floor.
  • Use a cup of white vinegar diluted in warm water for cleaning purposes instead of random cleaning fluids.
  • Use a doormat at the entrances to prevent damage caused by gravel and sand on the floorboard.

Acid Cured Finish Is Suitable For Which Type Of Floor?

It’s a slow-curing, quick-drying, and extremely durable option used to finish exotic wood floors having elaborate patterns like Parquet flooring. Despite its high VOC content, finishing hardwood floors with this option gives outstanding lasting beauty.

Points to remember:

1. VOCs: Acid-cured finishes have very high VOC content and release uncomfortable, allergic, and pungent odors during their application. You need to live somewhere else for some days after the finish is complete to let it off-gas. It’s one of the non-DIY-friendly hardwood floor finishes.

2. Durability: When it comes to longevity, it’s one of the most high-quality hardwood floor finishes for the kitchen and other types of residential usage. With a proper care regime, this finish can last up to more than one decade.

3. Drying Time: It takes up to 60 days to get cured fully but you can walk on an acid-cured floor after 3 days. After 2-4 hours of the application of the first coat, you can start applying the second coat.

4. Change In Color: A Swedish finish changes the floor’s color over time. With time, the acid-cured finish yellows to an amber tone. The original color is therefore altered as it ages.

Pros Of Acid Cured Finish

  • Dries quickly, and cures slowly.
  • Unbelievably durable.
  • Excellent elasticity.
  • Highly transparent.


Cons Of Acid Cured Finish

  • Tremendously high VOC content.
  • Highly expensive.
  • Professional-only application.
  • Flammable.
  • Hazardous finishing option.

8. Aluminum Oxide: The Most Durable And Pet-Friendly Hardwood Floor Finish

Aluminum oxide hardwood floor finish is an intensely long-lasting protective coating containing Aluminum Oxide, a naturally occurring mineral. It gives incredible protection to your hardwood floorboards from scratches, water damage, scuffs, fading, general wear, and tears without changing their natural grain or color.

Whether you want a semi-gloss or a matte hardwood floor finish, this product is available in multiple levels of shine. From our experience, it can last up to 30 years at minimum maintenance. It doesn’t effuse many solvents, though; the finely ground aluminum oxide irritates the respiratory organs. Of course, it’s not a DIY finish as this often involves processes like blasting.

Steps To Apply

  • It’s not safe to apply aluminum oxide finish onto an installed floor at home as the process involves so many potential hazards. However, if you still want to do it yourself, below we have elaborated on the most harmless step-by-step method:
  • Rub the floor with sand to remove any signs of residue on it.
  • Sweep away hair, dust, or any other debris using a broom, or a vacuum.
  • Apply a thin coat of aluminum oxide finish on the floor surface and buff it gently with a 175 RPM floor buffer.
  • Pour a little quantity of aluminum oxide finishing liquid into a bucket.
  • Dip a terrycloth mop in the finish and rub it all over the floor. Repeat the buffing step after it’s dry.
  • Reapply the finish in the same procedure after the previous coat is dry and buff it again.
  • Wrap up the application process with a manufacturer-recommended protective spray.


Maintenance Tips

  • A weekly vacuuming and dry cleaning with a microfiber pad keep the floor free of grits, sand, gravel, and other particles.
  • No buffing is needed for modern Aluminum Oxide floors.
  • Damp cleaning with a specialized moistening pad will keep the floor surface free of erosive agents.
  • Do not use any tape on the floors, even if they have low adhesion properties.
  • Always keep walk-off mats in high-traffic areas and use protection pads while removing furniture.

Aluminum Oxide Hardwood Floor Finish Is Suitable For Which Type Of Floor?

It’s one of the strongest hardwood floor finishes for pets. The aluminum oxide finish goes well with bamboo, engineered hardwood, and laminated wood floor.

1. VOCs: Aluminum oxide hardwood floor finish is one of the most preferred hardwood floor finishes today because of its relatively safe compositions. It’s both durable and safe although the dust is an irritant and may harm the respiratory tract.

2. Durability: It’s quite similar to the polyurethane-based finishes, but stronger and lasts for 20-25 years. This type of floor cover is more resilient than oil and water-based polyurethane hardwood floor finishes.

3. Drying Time: Finishing hardwood floor with Aluminum oxide makes the drying and curing lesser hassles. Allow it to dry 24 hours before light use and wait 3 days before starting to use the floor normally.

4. Change In Color: Aluminum oxide urethane age exhibits minimal color changes. On the other hand, it doesn’t improve the grain pattern as much as polyurethanes.

Pros Of Aluminum Oxide Hardwood Floor Finish

  • The most long-lasting finish.
  • Forms a scratch-resistant layer.
  • Low-maintenance.
  • Available in different glossiness.


Cons Of Aluminum Oxide Hardwood Floor Finish

  • Pro-level finish.
  • Difficult to repair or refinish.
  • Mostly comes with prefinished wood planks.

9. Pre-Catalyzed Epoxy Finish

Pre-Catalyzed Epoxy is a professional finish water-based acrylic liquid designed to coat newly installed floorboards requiring excellent chemical resistance and stain blocking. It gives a semi-gloss texture with a radiant sheen that resists moisture, mildew, and wear pretty well.

Steps To Apply:

The use of Pre-catalyzed epoxy finish is getting popular day by day among property owners. This low-VOC product offers the best longevity, adhesion, as well as stain resistance, and is best for commercial properties. Here is how you can apply it independently:

Scrupulously prepare the concrete or wooden subfloor and check in detail if the surface is free of moisture, dust, and other contaminants.

  • Prime the hardwood floor with a recommended Epoxy primer.
  • Fill in all the holes, cracks, dents, and grooves with Epoxy grout.
  • Now, apply the first film of Pre-catalyzed Epoxy finish with a roller or squeegee.
  • Wait for 16-24 hours and let the first coat sufficiently dry.
  • Lightly sand small new cracks, holes, and debris formed and trapped in the first coat.
  • Apply the final coat by using a good-quality roller.
  • In case the subfloor is problematic, you may need to coat it thrice to make it perfect.


Maintenance Tips

  • Give your Epoxy coated floor a good and gentle scrub weekly.
  • Clean up all forms of liquid spills as soon as possible.
  • Do not forget to sweep, dust, and vacuum your floors daily.
  • To repair a Pre-Catalyzed Epoxy finished floorboard, mend the scratches and gouges by coating.

Pre-Catalyzed Epoxy Finish Is Suitable For Which Type Of Floor?

The epoxy coating is ideal for floors with medium to light levels of activities – predominantly those in commercial areas. Apart from hardwood floorboards, it works pretty well with concrete floors as well.

Points to remember:

1. VOCs: It’s a low VOC finish, ideal for application in offices, homes, schools, and various other institutions. The water-based variations are acrylic and formulated for high-performance use.

2. Durability: Epoxy finish is ideal for all the high-traffic areas where washability and durability are critical. Floors of this type offer adhesion, corrosion resistance, ease of maintenance, toughness, and longevity for up to 10 years on average.

3. Drying Time: Pre-Catalyzed Epoxy Finish floors dry to touch within 1 hour at 77°F and 50% humidity which you can recoat after 2 hours. In 2 weeks, the paint film fully cures.

4. Change In Color: Hardwood floors finished with this don’t change color on their own. Although, you can change the color of your new epoxy floor by using a solvent such as Acetone paint thinner.

Pros of Pre-Catalyzed Epoxy Finish

  • Damage-resistant.
  • A lower number of VOCs.
  • Gives a clear, acrylic finish.
  • Dries quickly.
  • Easy to maintain.
  • Color doesn’t change.


Cons of Pre-Catalyzed Epoxy Finish

  • Suitable for commercial properties.
  • Long curing time.
  • Slippery when wet.

10. UV-Cured Polyurethane: The UV-Ray Resistant Hardwood Floor Finish

UV-cured polyurethanes are waterborne products that are cured by UV radiation and secure the underlying hardwood floor cover from the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays.

Recently, as more and more property owners are becoming increasingly concerned about the environment, this low VOC and low HAP (Hazardous Air Pollutant) finish is coming to the fore.

If you are considering installing a floor in the exterior spaces such as the house deck, selecting a UV-cured finish would deliver outstanding results.

Apart from that, it’s suitable for a high-traffic meeting room or a locker room too. Genuinely, finishes cured with UV light belong to the category of ‘latest technical advancements’ in the flooring industry.

Steps To Apply

UV-cured polyurethane finishing requires professional knowledge of using UV cure lamps. But you can manage it quite efficiently even if you don’t have prior flooring experience. Go through the steps below to apply this finish on your own:

  • Floors receiving UV-cure polyurethane finish should be solid, sound, and free of contaminants. So, sand with a 3M 7200 black abrasive pad lightly.
  • Pour the premixed finish in the ribbons onto the floor.
  • Saturate a non-shed nap roller (3/8 inches) with the product.
  • Spread the material uniformly and evenly at a right angle to the ribbon using the nap roller.
  • Wait for an hour to let the material dry.
  • Repeat the coating twice to obtain a 3-coat application before you start UV curing.
  • Now, use a UV cure lamp to cure the coating. Before this, put on protective equipment to avoid UV exposure to the skin and eyes.
  • Carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions before operating the lamp.
  • You will see the film getting cured instantly as soon as the UV head moves over the coating.


Maintenance Tips

  • Put door mats having stiff bristles at the exterior entries to the space.
  • Remove water or any other liquids immediately after spilling.
  • Groom your pets’ nails to reduce abrasion on the newly installed UV-cured floor.
  • Dust, sweep, and vacuum gently to keep the floorboard free of corrosive agents after applying the finish to the hardwood floor.

UV-Cured Polyurethanes Is Suitable For Which Type Of Floor?

UV-cured polyurethane is one of the most viable hardwood floor finishes for Oak floors. It gives an acrylic texture and ensures the natural color of the wood doesn’t change with time even after being exposed to sunlight.

Points to remember:

1. VOCs: This coating is widely used because of its eco-friendliness, and low emission of VOCs. Nonetheless, the rapid-curing speed of UV-curable poly leads to structural defects, though, rarely.

2. Durability: An on-site UV-cured Poly is a water-carried, transparent floor-finishing liquid that provides outstanding durability, and superb adhesion qualities for more or less 10-15 years. You can put your trust in it for residential or commercial floor finishing purposes.

3. Drying Time: Just like waterborne hardwood floor finishes, it needs 1 – 3 hours to dry to the touch and 48 hours to be ready for regular use.

4. Change In Color: Though its color doesn’t change drastically when activated by UV light, it gets a slight pinkish tone, indicating the cure is complete.


Pros Of UV Cured Polyurethanes Finish

  • Greater durability.
  • UV-rays resistant.
  • Faster drying time.
  • Clearer finish.
  • Better environmental friendliness.
  • Ideal for exotic wood.
  • Long-lasting.


Cons Of UV Cured Polyurethanes Finish

  • Expensive equipment.
  • Costly raw materials.
  • Limitation on pigmentations.

11. DIY Homemade Finish: The Most Budget-Friendly Hardwood Floor Finish

Some of you may wonder why you would use homemade paints, cleaners, or polishes leaving the polyurethanes behind. To be honest, there are plenty of homemade materials that give promising results.

Also, it’s easier, and cheaper to make DIY wood stains. All you need is just a few ingredients, give them a good whip and you are all set.

It’s always handy to have a go-to DIY finishing mix with you so that you can coat your hardwood floor whenever you want.

They are natural, although take an extended period to cure and need day-to-day maintenance.
Steps To Apply

There are so many ways to prepare your homemade hardwood floor finish. These nourish the wood without giving rise to any waxy build-ups. Below are the steps to do it rightly:

  • Sand the subfloor meticulously followed by cleaning, vacuuming, and sweeping.
  • Examine if the surface is free from debris, dirt, hair, dust particles, pollens, fibers, etc.
  • Mix water, white vinegar, and mineral oils, with natural products such as coconut oil, essential oils, Castile Soap, olive oil, vegetable glycerin, beeswax pellets, dish soap, etc., to prepare your simple yet effective floor finish mixture.
  • Apply the brewed material all over the hardwood floor in the room using a roller or a soft-bristled brush.
  • Let it dry for a few hours and apply the second and third coats accordingly.
  • After the final coat is applied, allow it to cure for a week, and replace all the furniture after that.


Maintenance Tips:

  • If you have finished a floor with homemade products, strictly keep it away from wet mopping or liquid spills.
  • Mix lemon juice or vinegar in lukewarm water and use this solution to clean the floor.
  • Dust and vacuum daily to prevent the formation of grooves, scratches, and dents.
  • Use rugs, and floor mats for high-traffic areas.

DIY Homemade Finish is Suitable For Which Type Of Floor?

While it’s true that homemade finishing liquids are not as effective as polyurethanes or chemical-based agents, it’s a decent option for Cork floors.

They give the floors sound protection from external erosive particles like sand, pets’ claws, gravels, fine pebbles, etc., you carry underneath your shoes.

Points to remember:

1. VOCs: Homemade finishing materials are some of the best DIY floor finishes for hardwood in terms of VOCs.

They are made of completely natural ingredients and are devoid of any toxic solvents which makes them an emerging environmentally floor coating option.

2. Durability: Durability is not much impressive for DIY Homemade Finishes. This type of finished floor can last up to 4-5 years if you follow a specific care regime.

3. Drying Time: The DIY hardwood floor finish drying time is approximately 48-72 hours, and for a full cure, it takes 4-5 days, sometimes, 1 week too.

It’s because these substances don’t contain chemicals that can speed up the drying process.

4. Change In Color: Since these finishing materials consist of vegetable oils, there is a high chance that the floors will change their color and yellow over time.

Pros of DIY Homemade Finish

  • No VOCs, no fumes, no odors
  • Enormous flexibility.
  • Raw materials can easily be sourced.
  • Gives a beautiful finish.
  • A quick procedure.
  • Cost-effective option.


Cons of DIY Homemade Finish

  • Need to hire professional equipment.
  • Prone to scratches, dents, and grooves.
  • Sanding and polishing can be hard.
  • Not as much durable as the previous options.

12. Lacquer: The Quick-Drying Hardwood Floor Finish

When finishing a flooring project, the primary goal is to get durable and beautiful results as fast as possible.

That’s why Lacquer is now the #1 choice for finishing floorboards. The process is super easy but the results involve a professional look, luxurious feel, and superior protection.

The best part of Lacquering floors lies in the fact that it requires less sanding. You don’t need to sand between each coat every time you apply this finish. Plus, each layer of lacquer bonds to the underlying layer because of its self-wetting capacity.

Steps To Apply

You can apply the Lacquer finish with either a spray or a brush. Nonetheless, spraying lacquer is a better idea as these versions dry and cure quickly. Check out the steps to apply lacquer finish here:

  • Sand the floor up to 150 grits to even it out.
  • Sweep and dust to clean all the foreign particles.
  • Check if there is good ventilation as a Lacquer finishing liquid contains solvents.
  • Hold the spray bottle and keep the nozzle 6-8 inches away from yourself parallel to the surface.
  • Move the can steadily.
  • Apply 3 coats thoroughly. Start by spraying on knots, edges, and end grain.
  • Allow it to dry for 3-5 minutes.
  • Examine if there is any pool, debris, or print on the floor. You can simply use your finger to remove it.
  • After an hour, your masterpiece should be hard enough to sand. Grab some 320-400 grit sandpaper to give it a good rub.


Maintenance Tips

  • Keep the floor along with the furniture dry.
  • Make sure to wipe spills in no less time as water damages lacquer easily.
  • Avoid placing excessively heavy items on the top of the floor.
  • Maintain a regular sweeping, dusting, and dry-mopping routine.

Lacquering Floor Finish Is Suitable For Which Type Of Floor?

It’s ideal for hardwood floors installed in areas where you can expect heavy footfall. In addition, if you want your hardwood floor finish to have a high gloss, you should prefer this one.

Points to remember:

1. VOCs: The Lacquer-based hardwood floor finishes have moderate to high solvents such as Toluene, and Xylene as well as VOC content. Nowadays, some modern Lacquer formulations that are coming up have low VOC content and emit lower odors.

2. Durability: Lacquer is extremely tough. It lasts longer than any of the other options without chipping and flaking. It remains clear and fine for years and gives your hardwood floor finish and a stunning gloss. Nevertheless, over time, it may begin to become scratched and discolored.

3. Drying Time: Lacquer coats for hardwood floor dry to the touch in 30 mins but the curing takes somewhere between 48-72 hours after which you can walk or shift furnishings.

4. Change In Color: Lacquer-based finishes vary in coloring. For instance, if you use a nitrocellulose lacquer, it will add a remarkable dark or slight orange tint to the wood. It also accentuates the beauty and the grain of the wood.

Pros of Lacquering floor finish

  • Forms a tough coating.
  • Application-friendly.
  • Quickest drying time.
  • Durable, and affordable.


Cons of Lacquering floor finish

  • Toxic off-gassing during application.
  • Prone to form bubbles.
  • Contaminants can easily get trapped in it.

13. Varnishing: The Hardwood Floor Finish With Different Gloss Levels

Give your floor a lustrous and smooth protective finish with Varnish. It beautifies the timber floor covers and protects them from stains and scratches. Modern varnishes are formulated with hardness, beauty, and adhesion which make them easy to use.

It’s a good dog-proof hardwood floor finish preferred by several pet parents looking forward to installing or refinishing floors at their homes. Although they vent significant VOCs and have a slow-drying formula, they give a nice sheen and are resistant to UV damage.

Steps To Apply

Achieving a lustrous and smooth look on your timber floor through Varnishing seems to be a magician’s wand swish. But once you get to understand the basics, it’s one of the most imperishable hardwood floor finishes. Here are the steps you need to follow to apply it professionally:

  • Purchase a newly manufactured varnish and get yourself a natural-bristle paintbrush.
  • Stir the product with a sterilized stirring stick slowly to avoid the formation of air bubbles.
  • Carefully pour a sufficient quantity of it into a container.
  • After sanding and cleaning the floor, apply the first layer with a light touch using just the tip of the brush.
  • Brush in the wood grain’s direction. Do not back and forth. Keep proceeding in this way until you get a full coat.
  • Drag the tip of the brush slowly to smooth and uneven streaks or loitering bubbles.
  • Let it rest for 6 hours and apply two or three more thin coats.
  • Finally sand the work piece with 320-grit abrasive paper.
  • In the last step, vacuum all residue.


Maintenance Tips

  • Give the floor surfaces a gentle wipe-over.
  • Spray polish over the wooden surface now and then.
  • In case there is a wax buildup, remove it with a piece of microfiber cloth dampened with synthetic turpentine and mineral spirits.
  • It’s safe to use a solution of lukewarm water and mild detergent with a soft cloth or a clean sponge.

Varnishing Is Suitable For Which Type Of Floor?

Give your Oak and Cork-engineered hardwood floor impressive protection and a natural look with a Varnish finish. It’s the best choice to obtain a high-gloss surface along with a deeper texture.

Points to remember:

1. VOCs: Varnishes use synthetic, petroleum-derived solvents that release a high level of VOCs at the time of application. They are not so much preferable concerning environmental sustainability but these VOCs make the results more effective.

2. Durability: Gloss oil, Danish Oil, or Polyurethane-based varnish can easily last up to 10-20 years being one of the heavy-duty hardwood floor finishes. Apart from general protection, it also safeguards the floorboards from harmful UV rays.

3. Drying Time: Varnish finishes dry within 2-6 hours but to prevent ruining, leave the floor undisturbed for 24-48 hours. In some cases, the cure window ranges from 5-7 days, even 30 days too but that’s a rare scenario.

4. Change In Color: It offers a clear barrier that provides natural protection to the wood from day-to-day erosive particles. It doesn’t significantly alter the wood’s color, although, some oil-based substances warm the wood a little.

Pros of Varnishing

  • Unmatchable results.
  • Inexpensive option.
  • Expresses the natural grains and imperfections of the wood.
  • Low-maintenance.


Cons of Varnishing:

  • Strong, unpleasant odor.
  • Relatively low resistance to wearing.
  • Hazardous to health.
  • Longer cure time.

14. Acrylic Impregnated Finish – The Most High-Gloss Hardwood Floor Finish

Acrylic Impregnated Finish or Acrylic Infused Finish is coated with Acrylic resin. It comes with a range of benefits and features suitable for both commercial and residential buildings.

This includes stability, water resistance, scratch prevention, marine-grade adhesiveness, and low-VOC emission. With this product, you will be getting a long-lasting, eco-friendly floor that would look great for decades.

Acrylic-infused flooring is an innovative alternative to carpeting, solid hardwood, vinyl flooring, and other traditional flooring options. It’s non-toxic, similar to the lacquer, and gives a reflective hardwood floor finish with a high sheen.

Steps To Apply

Applying an acrylic finish to the hardwood floor gives a mirror-like appearance which is something we know you crave. It’s a low-VOC procedure with decent durability and a perfect choice for commercial building owners. See the steps below to apply Acrylic Impregnated finish on hardwood floor covers:

  • Clean the hardwood floorboard of all dust and dirt using a dust mop, a vacuum, or a broom.
  • Vacuum out all the moisture from the wood using a high-pressure technique.
  • Inject the colored stain, liquid acrylic, and fire retardants into the open pores of the floorboard throughout its depth.
  • The wood will then go through a solidifying procedure creating an atypical hard surface.
  • The color of the acrylic stain will go all the way through the wood because of this infusion.


Maintenance Tips

  • Follow a regular care routine of vacuuming, dust-mopping, and sweeping.
  • Use a low-speed buffing machine equipped with an appropriate pad.
  • Adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for spot-cleaning stubborn stains.
  • Use only recommended wet mop treatments over anything else.

Acrylic Impregnated Finish Is Suitable For Which Type Of Floor?

Acrylic-impregnated flooring is best suitable for non-residential and commercial projects. It forms a very hard finish for Ash and Oak floor covers making them resistant to scratches and moisture.

Points to remember:

1. VOCs: Every plank of an Acrylic impregnated hardwood floor comes with a UV-cured finish that’s Benzophenone-free thereby making the product a low-VOC emitting one.

2. Durability: Hardwood floors are injected with acrylic-impregnated finishes to create an extremely durable, and super hard floor. This flooring can resist fading and degradation within a period of 5 to 10 years.

3. Drying Time: The thick films of professional acrylic finish take 1 hour or 2 to dry and the thin films dry in 20 – 30 minutes. This duration varies based on environmental conditions and often takes more than 24 hours to fully cure.

4. Change In Color: With this type of non-urethane flooring, there won’t be any noticeable color change, Nevertheless, with time, it lightens the natural tint of the floorboard.

Pros of Acrylic Impregnated Finish

  • Reflective, high-gloss finish.
  • Non-toxic product.
  • Has matte variants as well.
  • Resistant to moisture
  • Durable enough.


Cons of Acrylic Impregnated Finish

  • Can’t withstand extreme temperatures.
  • Won’t chip unless there is heavy damage.
  • Difficult to refinish.

15. Moisture Cure Urethanes – The Best Waterproof Hardwood Floor Finish

Moisture Cure Urethane finishes work differently than solvent or water-based wood flooring materials. Rather than just creating a mechanical bond with the wood, it firmly attaches itself both chemically and mechanically.

If you want prevention from water and chemicals, alongside flexibility and optimum toughness at the same time, get this finish done.

As the name suggests, this finish pulls out moisture from the surrounding air to cure.

The humidity in the air impacts its curing process on the day you will be applying. Remember, if the air is dry, the applied material won’t dry properly. An erratic finish indeed!!

Steps To Apply:

We found these steps the easiest ones to apply Moisture Cure Urethane finish faultlessly. Follow the procedure below to do it yourself:

  • Sand the interior hardwood surfaces properly with a sanding grit not higher than 120 grit.
  • Remove the accumulated dust and tack the surface with a dry, clean cloth gently.
  • Apply the 1st film of moisture cure liquid to the sanded wood and let dry.
  • With a moisture meter, see if the humidity in the air is at least 50% during application for 3-4 hours.
  • Wait for 6-8 hours after which sand and vacuum the surface.
  • Add 1 or 2 more coats and sand after the final coat to evenly spread the finish on the floor.
  • Wait for 48 hours to cure.
  • Never apply moisture cure urethane over already existing Shellac, Polyurethane, or Lacquer Finish.


Maintenance Tips

  • Wait till 2 weeks after the final application of the finish.
  • Clean with a cotton cloth and fresh water.
  • You can use a mild detergent in small quantities.
  • Lightly broom and dry mop the surfaces to keep the floorboard clean.

Moisture Cure Urethane finish Is Suitable For Which Type Of Floor?

Moisture Cure Urethane floors are recommended for commercial hardwood floors, dance floors, and restaurant hardwood floors. These are high-traffic in nature and require maximum durability, and performance.

Points to remember:

1. VOCs: High-level volatile solvents and fumes released from moisture-cure urethanes linger in the local air for days, sometimes weeks. Hence, you, and other property members have to migrate to some other place for at least 2 weeks after its application.

2. Durability: They provide unbelievable adhesion to the majority of the substrates and last for 20 years if you can take proper care of the floor. Since they are chemical resistant, they provide excellent corrosion.

3. Drying Time: It dries within 6-8 hours in an environment where there is 50% relative humidity in the air, post which you can apply the next coats. To cure, it takes 48 hours approximately.

4. Change In Color: No significant change in color is noticeable with this finishing material.

Pros Of Moisture Cure Urethane Finish

  • Easy to clean.
  • Waterproof and non-porous.
  • Suitable for areas that are not easily accessible.
  • Can withstand wear and abrasion decently.
  • Offers greater flexibility and toughness.


Cons Of Moisture Cure Urethane Finish

  • The VOCs released cause asthma, cancer, and many other respiratory problems.
  • The application procedure is difficult.
  • Needs professional touch.

Which is The Best Hardwood Floor Finish For Your Need?

We, at European Flooring, have been Finishing and Refinishing hardwood floorboards for a long time. Till now we have completed a series of floor finishing projects quite successfully. Trust us, we never settled for anything less.

Each of the 15 hardwood floor finishes we elucidated above is competent enough in every aspect – durability, installation, dry time, VOCs, change in colors, etc. However, it’s undeniable that “There is always a BEST in everything.”

From our years of experience in dealing with all the 15 types of floor finishes mentioned above, we can say with utmost confidence that – Water-Based Polyurethane is the best of all. We prefer it over the 14 other options definitely for some reason!

Water-based poly is as long-lasting as oil-based poly. If you follow the cleaning and maintenance regime appropriately, you can make it last for several DECADES. This means you don’t need to refinish your floor multiple times once you select this option.

It releases significantly lower amounts of VOCs and fumes during application, which makes it a wonderful eco-friendly yet effective choice at the same time. Plus, you can replace the furniture and start using the rooms on a daily basis after 2-3 days which makes sense as well. After all, who likes to wait for a long week after getting a beautiful floor done?

Water-based polyurethane finished floors don’t need an extremely high level of maintenance. This reduces a lot of burden from the shoulders of the homeowners. All you need to do is dust, sweep, vacuum, regularly and clean with the permitted materials weekly. These are some pretty simple chores to do!

Last, but not least, water-based polyurethane floors are also fairly great dog-proof hardwood floor finishes. We recommend all pet parents to go for it without a second thought owing to the lesser toxicity. Nevertheless, one primary responsibility you should take care of is keeping their nails groomed to ensure maximum protection of the floors.

Not only it has excellent scratch resistance and abrasion properties, but water-based poly coatings also give a natural, acrylic glow in just a few coats. Neither it changes the wood’s color, nor does it transform the natural grains of the timber boards.

Taking into account all these factors, we give a big fat THUMBS UP to Water-Based Polyurethane Hardwood Floor Finish and highly recommend it for your property.

A Checklist Of Tools And Supplies Required To Finish Hardwood Floors

The perfect guide to ” how to finish hardwood floors ” largely depends on the availability of the tools and materials. Coating the timber floorboards should be done professionally to get a superior quality finish and a deluxe appearance. Only a set of professional equipment can ensure that.

Our hardwood floor finishing maestros always keep these shreds of equipment handy whenever they apply finishes at a property. We suggest you have these tools and supplies with yourself as well to make the task less complicated:


  • Carpenter’s pencil
  • Putty knife
  • Small Pry bar
  • Wedge
  • T-bar
  • Extension cords
  • Paint Brush, Tack cloth, roller, Lambswool applicator
  • Stain applicator pads
  • Rags
  • Drum sander
  • Edge dander
  • Needle-nosed Pliers
  • Painter’s tape
  • Plastic sheets
  • Spackle knife
  • Wood filler – either a wood patch or full trowel filler
  • 120-grit sanding screen
  • Grit sandpaper for fitting every sander – 40, 60, 80, and 120-grit
  • Sanding pole
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Buffer
  • Denatured alcohol
  • The Finishes (Water-based poly, Oil-Based poly, wax, Shellac, acid-based, oil-modified, UV-cured, Pre-Catalyzed Epoxy, etc.)



  • Protective eyewear
  • Earplugs
  • Face mask
  • Wood putty
  • Paint stick
  • Duct tape
  • Wood sealer

On-Site Finishing Vs. Prefinishing The Floor

When finishing a floor, you may need to order either unfinished flooring and apply the finish on-site after the installation or let the manufacturers ship you a prefinished floor. Both these approaches produce incomparably elegant and premium floors well-protected from spills, scratches, and scuffs.

They also make the floors look great and sustain a lifetime. Nonetheless, each of these types ushers significant impacts on the overall look and cost of the floor in different ways. This is where the majority of the homeowners get stuck and wonder what to choose – Prefinished or Site-Finished hardwood floors?

Let us tell you that both Prefinished and Site-Finished floors have their unique advantages and disadvantages. We have had experience working with both types of floors over a long time. They differ in maintenance, pricing, installation, and design.

Read on to learn how On-Site Finished Hardwood Flooring differs from Pre Finished Hardwood Flooring and make an informed decision:

1. Maintenance

There are powerful chemical sealers applied during factory finishes which are typically not available to the on-site hardwood floor installers. The top coat of the Pre Finish hardwood floors offers greater durability than the latter one. As a result, there are lesser chances that it will require refinishing or replacement and if needed, that’s a difficult procedure.

But when it comes to site finish, they require refinishing and it’s very easy to do that. A simple Sanding and applying a thin coat of finish smoothen the imperfections and makes them shiny.

2. Installation

With Pre Finished Hardwood Flooring, there is no need for varnishing, sanding, or staining during installation like Site-Finish Hardwood Floors. These are messy procedures that cover the room with wood dust and allergens which require thorough cleaning afterward.

However, for Site-Finished flooring, the raw timber board is installed and sanded flat. This enables you to remove any irregularities on the spot that may exist because of an uneven subfloor. You don’t get to enjoy this advantage with the Pre-Finished planks and if there are any imperfections, you have to fix them on-site.

3. Pricing

The pre-finished planks cost higher than the unfinished hardwood planks initially. But the pricing does not include labor charges involved with staining, sanding, and finishing the wood. The site-finished floors on the contrary consider a plethora of particulars such as installation, finishing costs, and product prices.

4. Design

Quality factory-finished or prefinished wood floors are beveled with slightly rounded edges which gives it a more manufactured look. Since each board is finished separately, this approach produces a floor that’s not completely flat and has a visible groove in between the planks. Oppositely, a site-finished floor is perfectly flat having fully squared edges and a seamless flawless finish.
So, Which One Is Best?

There is no clear winner between Pre-Finish and Site-Finish Hardwood floor!
Both these types have individual pros and cons worth taking into account.

Of course, you may embrace the natural imperfections in site-finished/unfinished flooring or you may love the convenience of perfectly seamless, ready-to-install floorboards. Whichever you choose, it’s an undeniable fact that it will allow you to create a luxurious atmosphere in your space for the coming years.

How To Choose The Best Hardwood Floor Finishes For Your Home?

After researching a range of hardwood floor types, and finishes as well as assessing the likes and dislikes of our different customers, we found a common question that’s repeatedly coming up-

” How To Choose The Best Hardwood Floor Finishes For Your Home? ”

There is a myriad of options out there and each of them has discrete properties but picking the right one seems to be challenging. We have listed below some key points which we believe are crucial to consider while selecting the best hardwood floor finishes. Check these 5 points out to choose an impeccable and durable hardwood floor finish for your home.

1. Your Location

The type of floor finish to choose depends on where your property is located. For instance, in some areas, such as California, oil-based hardwood floor finishes are not allowed as per government regulations. Whereas, towards the Northeastern side, most property owners prefer only oil-based finishes over anything else.

Similarly, in the drier areas, you can easily use water-based hardwood floor finish for engineered hardwood as they are resistant to crowning or cupping. Contrarily, in humid areas, it’s advisable to use oil-based or wax-based floor finishes to prevent rapid floor damage.

2. Pricing

An oil-based hardwood flooring finish costs comparatively less than the single-component and two-component water-based options. So, after hardwood floor installation, if you have a tight budget, you can go for oil-based hardwood floor finishing.

But here is an interesting fact. From our years of experience in floor finishing, we can say those oil-based finishing liquids are more durable. Though today, water-based polyurethane finishes have evolved with advanced formulations, both are equally hard-wearing.

3. Appearance

When you are investing your hard-earned money into flooring, of course, you have to think again and again about the appearance. Appearance is the first thing that comes into mind while installing a hardwood floor.

Oil based floor finishes give a warm, amber hue and deeper appearance producing a richer tone. Furthermore, with time, it continues to darken, and amber or yellow over time. Inversely, water based timber floor finishes are clear and remain so for a lifetime.

The color difference is relatively less noticeable over a stained floor. Additionally, wax-based liquids and Penetrating Oil Sealers provide a low-sheen finish that darkens over time.

If you want rich, natural finish hardwood floors, you better choose a wax-based and oil-based look for some particular wood species like Brazilian Cherry, and Walnut.

4. Sensitivity To The Solvents

Moisture-Cure Urethanes and Oil-based liquids consist of a high volume of different types of solvents that enable the finish to last in the long run.

The fumes emitted from them are toxic and irritate your eye and respiratory organs.
Undoubtedly, it’s not the best hardwood floor finish for pets, children, and sensitive persons.

In that case, we suggest you apply water based hardwood floor finish or Shellac Finish to stay away from problems such as a pungent smell, burning eyes, and difficulty breathing. They are more eco-friendly, non-flammable, healthier, and dry quickly.

Looking For Beautifully Finished Hardwood Floors?

Some jobs are better left to the experts and finishing hardwood floors is one such task! Certainly, you can apply all the finishes we explained above on your own but letting a skilled team do it will guarantee professionalism and perfection.

At European Flooring, the leading Legno Bastone wide plank hardwood flooring service provider in the USA, our virtuosos use an all-natural UV-cured hard-wax oil finish. Be it stain resistance or scratch resistance; this finish offers supreme durability and ultra-low maintenance throughout its lifetime.

Want to give your space a premium outlook while getting peace of mind knowing your floor is safe from all types of erosive agents? Get in touch with us to hire our installers or Visit our gallery of hardwood flooring in Miami, Palm beach and fort laudradele and leave the rest to us.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is the most scratch-resistant wood finish?

Hardwood floor Polyurethane finish is the best option when it comes to choosing the most scratch-resistant wood floor finishes. It’s super effective in protecting the floorboards from abrasive damage, and scratches. Polyurethane is also water-resistant and formulated to enhance the natural appearance giving a satin finish to the hardwood flooring.

Q2. What finish is best for maple hardwood floors?

Maple hardwood floors are known for durability. Maple is a hard and highly dense wood, tougher than oak or ash. From our experience, Oil-based polyurethanes are best for finishing a hardwood floor made of Maple. It gives the floor a more intense color and denser texture than water-based or acid-based products.

Q3. What is the best finish for oak floors?

Stains sit on Oak well as it has a lighter natural color. Both water and oil-based hardwood floor finishes work great on Oak floors. Which one you would choose is entirely up to your personal preference.

However, nowadays, more and more homeowners are becoming concerned about eco-friendliness, and environmental sustainability. Hence, they are turning to water-based poly as it’s equally durable, easy to apply, and better for your family, and pets.

Q4. How do I pick a hardwood floor finish?

Finding the perfect floor finish is indeed a hard nut to crack. You should start by finding the type of treatment that gives you the maximum damage protection, and durability you need. Then decide what kind of shade and sheen you want to enhance your room’s interior beauty.

After that, consider your budget, drying time, as well as the sensitivity of your family members and pets to the VOCs present inside the hardwood floor finishes. Finally, you will be able to pick a hardwood floor finish that best suits your needs.

Q5. Should I use Oil-Based or Water-Based Polyurethane?

Oil-Based Polyurethane hardwood floor finishes provide scratch resistance and excellent protection from abrasion to your floors. It stays intact for 7-10 years; so, when it comes to durability, we always recommend an Oil based hardwood floor finish.

Today though, high-quality water based finish for hardwood floors has evolved as better eco-friendly alternatives that are as durable as oil-based products. You can use both of them taking into account several factors such as pricing, durability, style, susceptibility to the solvents, etc.

Q6. What is the downside of oil-based polyurethane?

Some of the most predominant disadvantages or downsides of oil-based polyurethanes are:

  • They are not too much expensive.
  • Oil-based finishes release a lot of VOCs.
  • These products tend to become yellowish over time.
  • These types of hardwood floor finishes are flammable.

Q7. What do professionals use to refinish hardwood floors?

For a pro-level refinish of the hardwood floors, professionals keep a set of tools and materials on hand:

  • Power Hand Sander
  • Scrum Or Orbital Sander
  • Plastic Sheeting
  • Nail Set
  • Pry Bar
  • Putty knife
  • Polyurethane or other hardwood floor finishes
  • Dust Mask and Respirator
  • Paintbrush
  • Hardwood Floor Cleaner
  • Mineral Spirits
  • Wood filler
  • Floor buffer
  • Sandpaper with multiple grits
  •  Painter’s tape
  • Cotton rags
  • Goggles and ear protection
  •  Lamb’s wool applicator/foam roller

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