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Water Based or Oil Based Floor Polyurethane. Which one is Superior?

As a hardwood professional, it's important to understand the differences between water-based polyurethane and oil-based polyurethane. These two types of floor finishes are used to protect and enhance the appearance of wood floors. The primary difference between the two is the type of solvent used.

Water-based polyurethane is a good choice for indoor use because it dries much faster than oil-based polyurethane and has a much lower odor. Water-based polyurethane is also more environmentally friendly and less toxic than oil-based polyurethane. However, oil-based polyurethane is more durable and longer-lasting than water-based polyurethane, making it a better choice for high-traffic areas.

When choosing a finish for your wood floor, it's essential to consider factors such as drying time, odor, durability, thickness, hardness, color, and cost. Quality water-based polyurethane can be durable, but in our opinion, not as much as oil-based, but it's important to choose a reputable brand and have it applied by a professional. It's also important to choose the right finish for the specific type of wood, as some finishes can change the color of the wood over time.

For gray stained, white stained, or white-washed hardwood floors, it's essential to use a water-based polyurethane to avoid a yellow tone over time. Water-based polyurethane is also recommended for hardwoods that have a yellowish tone to them naturally. On the other hand, oil-based polyurethane is more suited for dark-colored wood. However, you can use any finish with any color but be aware of the yellowing that happens with oil-based polyurethane.

If you're choosing to go with White Oak floors, we highly recommend going with a water-based finish to showcase its natural beauty. We recommend topcoats such as Bona HD Traffic, Loba Invisible, or 2k for a super clear finish that won't amber like oil or a residential grade water-based finish.

Ultimately, the choice between water-based and oil-based polyurethane will depend on the specific needs of the project and the preferences of the user. Contact The Hardwood Guys of Connecticut for a free estimate and to discuss your options.


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