Hardwood Floor Finishes



Over the years, various manufacturers have introduced finishes that attempt to balance functional requirements with cosmetic results and real-world environmental and maintenance demands.

Penetrating finishes like tung and linseed oil were once common but have lost their popularity due to their time-consuming maintenance demands as well as their inability to offer adequate stain-resistance without the constant application of wax. Long drying times and durability issues present additional challenges for penetrating finishes.

Unlike penetrating finishes, surface finishes like oil and water-based polyurethanes create an effective, protective resin barrier on the surface of a wood floor. As the floor is exposed to traffic the surface layer wears away instead of the wood itself. These 2 types of surface finishes warrant some additional information that can assist you in making a well-informed decision.


Water-based – two-component finish

Extremely durable – delivers an extremely tough, protective finish. Provides effective moisture and chemical resistance. Perfect for homes with pets and high-traffic areas.
Fast drying time – approximately 8 hours is required between coats meaning that 2 coats can often be applied the same day minimizing the time spent away from your living space.
Little odour and reduced VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) – as a water-based finish dries it releases water-vapour instead of solvents, producing very little odour.
Simple to maintain – easy to sweep and damp-wipe.

Colour attention – especially on an oak floor, an initial coat of stain or an oil-based sealer is required to avoid a dull looking finish. (Recommended product: Basic Coatings, StreetShoe finish)

Oil-based Polyurethane finish

Cosmetically attractive – once applied, the floor turns an appealing amber colour.
Durable – with only minimal maintenance, will provide effective moisture and chemical resistance.
Simple to maintain – easy to sweep and damp-wipe.

Slower drying time – 3 coats is usually recommended. A full 24 hours is required between coats.
Elevated VOC’s and smell – for those with sensitivities to odours or chemicals, water-based finishes can be a better choice. Oil-based finishes produce a solvent smell while drying. With proper ventilation, the odour is usually gone in 24-48 hours.(Recommended Product: Bona, Woodline finish.)

(Both oil and water-based finishes are available in high-gloss, semi-gloss, satin and matte sheens. A satin sheen can often minimize the look of scratches versus a glossier finish.)

Delivering expert advice and personalized service has been Woodsmith Hardwood Floors’ promise for over 23 years. Gain from our experience and let us help you select the hardwood floor finish for your living space by contacting us today.

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