What exactly is the difference between an oil based or water-based hardwood flooring finish?
Consider undertaking a hardwood floor refinishing project, as this is one of the simplest ways to update your hardwood floors and increase your home’s value. The lifespan of hardwood flooring can be increased by investing in its protection. When it comes to protection options, you need to choose between either an oil or water based polyurethane finish. Either option has advantages and disadvantages. Whilst both offer good protection, they cannot be used together. Let’s get into the details of what each option entails.

Which Option Provides a Wider Range of Colors for Kitchen Hardwood Floors?
Consider your hardwood flooring color scheme carefully before making a final decision on whether to go with the water-based or oil-based polyurethane. Neither option offers a wider range of color, but rather they each influence colors differently, creating different types of color tones. Oil-based polyurethane colors typically have more depth and create a warmer color tone. This option creates a richer color that will continue to darken as it matures.

In contrast, the water-based polyurethane option dries into a clear finish. This option will not mature the color and you will remain with the exact color of your choice. The water-based finish option will not surprise you after completion of your wood floor refinishing project, by having altered or affected the color in any way.

Which Polyurethane Option Provides Better Floor Protection?
Both the water-based and the oil-base polyurethane offers excellent protection after your hardwood floor refinishing work is completed. The difference really is that the oil-based option has a thicker consistency, meaning it is longer lasting compared to the water-based finish. The drawback is that due to the oil-based finish being thicker, it is also softer and therefore more vulnerable to dents.

In contrast, the water-based finish is thinner and dries into a considerably harder finish, making scratches more visible. Homeowners with children and dogs may not benefit greatly from the water-based option. Scratches can occur easier than you may think. Moving furniture, pets’ claws and children’s toys can easily contribute to scratches on your hardwood flooring. Furthermore, as the water-based option is thinner, more coats need to be applied to properly protect your hardwood flooring. Flooring Contactors may advise you that you need at least three coats. Due to the additional coats that need to be applied, the project may take longer. A fourth coat may also need to be applied in certain circumstances.

Which Polyurethane Option Has the Strongest Odor?
Polyurethane will leave behind an odor for a little while after the hardwood floor refinishing work is completed. Regardless of which option you go with, the smell will be present. If you are particularly sensitive to odors in general, then it would be better to go with the water-based option.

In general, the oil-based finish has a stronger smell compared to the water-based option. Either way, there will be a smell present that will last for a while. Oil-based polyurethane will take an extra two weeks to cure, but in comparison, water-based polyurethane requires more coats. More coats equal more time, therefore in the end, the smell of either will take a few weeks before it subsides.

Which Polyurethane Option Dries the Fastest?
Theoretically, a water-based finish dries faster than an oil-based finish, and a second coat can be applied within the same day. It must be said though, that scheduling constraints rarely allow for this. As mentioned previously, water-based polyurethane requires several coats therefore it may take two days or more to complete the job. Oil-based polyurethane, however, takes around 12 to 16 hours to dry and flooring contractors will typically advise to let the application dry overnight before they apply the second coat the next day.

At Ted’s Flooring, Inc. we work with both options and will evaluate which will work best for your home. In general, we recommend using the oil-based polyurethane finish for wood floor refinishing projects. This option is a tried-and-tested solution and has a longer lifespan.

Contact Ted’s Flooring, Inc. for all your home and kitchen hardwood floor refinishing requirements. We will gladly assist and advise you on all hardwood flooring solutions.

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