November 1, 2022

Protecting Your Hardwood Floors: Which Finish is Your Best Option?

Installing your dream hardwood flooring may come with a few challenges, but fitting them into your home is not the end of your wood flooring ventures. To keep your hardwood appealing and new-looking for the decades to come, protecting them is your utmost priority. What better way of doing it than coating your hardwood floors with the right protective finish? Choosing the best finish for your new floors can be intimidating. Refresh your knowledge of all things hardwood with this top 8 list of hardwood flooring finishes.

1.   Water-Based Polyurethane

Homeowners who love having shiny but still durable hardwood floors should go for water-based polyurethane finishes. In recent years, this smooth, quick-drying finish has become one of the most popular hardwood finishes.

Water-based polyurethane creates a liquidy, water-like layer upon application and turns into a moisture-resistant coat. It dries fast, lasts long, and enhances the color and grain of the hardwood. In addition, this wood finish is an environmentally-friendly alternative to oil-based polyurethane. Apart from its easy application and smooth, shiny finish, WBP resists the yellowing that comes as hardwood floors age.

One notable downside of this hardwood top coat is that scratches and scrapes become more noticeable.

2.   Oil-Based Polyurethane

One of the classic wood finishes available, oil-based polyurethane is a favorite of many hardwood flooring owners. These are often applied to hardwood floors with high traffic, like hallways and households with children or pets.

Oil-based polyurethane coats are readily available, affordable, durable, and moisture-resistant. They're also easy to maintain and clean.

Because of its composition, oil-based polyurethane has strong odors and is one of the least eco-friendly options. In addition, the coat yellows over time, which is good if you want rich and warm amber tones for your hardwood floors. They also need at least 48 hours to dry- not the best choice if you lack time.

3.   Wax

People who prefer low-sheen finishes for their hardwood floors tend to use wax finishes. This type of wood top coat is convenient to apply, dries fast, and is easy to maintain. Homeowners can also mix their preferred wood stain to apply color on the floors while waxing.

Wax finishes are also the classic go-to coat for hardwood flooring for centuries. Historic and rustic homes love to use wax to keep the floors' appearance and protect the old hardwood floors.

But remember that wax finishes can darken or yellow as time goes on and are not the most durable finishing options. Applying it also requires intensive labor. However, a good wax finish can hide hardwood blemishes like furniture scuffs and scrapes.

4.   Moisture-Cure Urethane

For hardwood floorings in high-traffic commercial areas like restaurants and bowling alleys, moisture-cure urethane finishes are a definite must-have.

Moisture-cure urethane coats are the toughest and most durable hardwood finish available and offer heavy-duty protection and moisture resistance from foot traffic while leaving a glossy shine.

Choosing this type of finish may require you to hire refinishing services as they're difficult to apply,  have high levels of VOCs,  and have a strong chemical odor that can linger for weeks.

5.   Penetrating Oil Sealer

Penetrating oil sealers are one of the least popular hardwood finishes nowadays. While they're not as in demand as they were in the 60s, some homeowners still use them to bring out the natural look of their hardwood floors. They give off a type of low-shine and slightly matte finish that helps showcase the natural hues and patterns of your hardwood floors.

Although they're easy to apply, oil sealers need recoating every few years and require a layer of wax coating for more protection and durability. These finishes often need an entire day of coating and drying.

6.   Shellac

Shellac is the go-to finish if you prefer a high-shine coating on your hardwood floors. This quick-dry high gloss wood coat also gives a slight orange tint and emits low VOC levels. Mixing denatured alcohol with shellac creates a matte surface for your hardwood floors, depending on your style.

Because it's fast drying, shellac finishes are difficult to apply, highly flammable, and tend to stain and water certain spots.

While best used for low-traffic areas and easy to touch up, these finishes aren't durable.

7.   Aluminum Oxide

Aluminum oxide is most hardwood floor owners' favorite wood finish. It offers the best protection and durability for any hardwood floor, is low maintenance, and has low-gloss or high-shine finishing options. Aluminum oxide lasts over two decades and will not change your wood's grain and color.

The most notable disadvantages of this wood finish are the difficulties you face when touching up or refinishing your hardwood. Removing aluminum oxide from your hardwood floors can mean replacing your floorboards.

8.   Acid-Cured Finish

Are you an exotic hardwood floor owner in need of a wood finish? Using an acid-cured finish is your best option. Often seen as a high-end wood finish, professional refinishing services are necessary for a perfect and even acid-cured application.

Unlike other top coats, they're more difficult to touch up and refinish. But it won't be a problem as this finish is extremely durable and resistant. In addition, they enhance the natural color and grain of your exotic hardwood species.

For more information on hardwood flooring, contact Kelly Hardwood Floors!