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Water vs Oil based Polyurethane on hardwood floors: Which option is best for you?

When selecting a finish for your hardwood floors, there are two main options that you’ll want to consider: water or oil polyurethane. Both of these finishes offer advantages and disadvantages, which is why you’ll want to evaluate your options closely before making a decision.

The Benefits of Water-Based Polyurethane

A water-based finish will dry quickly and will be completely clear. It doesn’t have much of an odor, and it is possible to apply multiple coatings in one day. It can give your floors an appealing natural appearance.

Because this finish doesn’t have any sort of tint, it’s an excellent way to highlight the character of your wood floors. Floors that are coated with this type of finish can be cleaned with water, which makes it a practical choice as well. Experts recommend applying four coats of a water-based finish to floors.

The Drawbacks of Water-Based Polyurethane

One of the biggest disadvantages of choosing a water-based finish is its price point. It will cost you nearly twice as much as an oil-based finish would. Because it’s clear, it also won’t give wood a glow or enhance it in any other way.

While a water-based finish can protect your floors, it’s likely that you’ll need to apply new coats every few years for the best results. As mentioned above, you’ll need to apply at least four coats each time in order to fully protect your floors. More coats are necessary because water-based polyurethane contains fewer solids than oil-based polyurethane.

The Benefits of Oil Polyurethane

One of the main reasons people choose this, finish is its affordability. It’s significantly less expensive than water-based polyurethane, especially when you consider that you can apply fewer coats and get the same results. Once it’s applied, it requires very little maintenance.

Another advantage of this coating is the way that it changes the appearance of wood floors. It has a slight tint to it and can leave floors with a beautiful amber glow. If you’re not a fan of the natural appearance of your floorboards, you may find that an oil finish is your best option.

The Drawbacks of Oil Polyurethane

It can take a long time to apply this finish to your floors. You’ll have to wait for five hours between coats so that each coat has a chance to fully dry. When the last coat is applied, it will need to dry for a full 12 hours.

It’s not unusual for this to turn into a multi-day project. This finish also has a strong odor, which can be difficult to deal with. If you’re applying a coating to the floors of a home you live in, this finish could wind up being a source of stress for you.

What Coating Should You Choose?

When you’re deciding on the finish you want for your floors, you’ll want to take a number of factors into consideration. You’ll want to think about your needs and your budget. You’ll also want to think about the impact each type of finish will have on the appearance of your floors.

You may want to look at examples of floors that have been coated with both a water and oil-based finish so that you can get a better idea of what you should expect. Focus on the short and long-term so that you can make the best decision about how to proceed.

Both water and oil polyurethane coatings can deliver excellent results. No matter what type of finish you choose, it’s likely that you’ll be satisfied with your floors. Learn more about your options and find the finish that will give you the look you’re after.


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About the Author

Kaya Wittenburg

Blog Author and CEO

Kaya Wittenburg is the Founder and CEO of Sky Five Properties. Since the age of 10, real estate has been deeply ingrained into his thoughts. With world-class negotiation and deal-making skills, he brings a highly impactful presence into every transaction that he touches.

He is here to help you use real estate as a vehicle to develop your own personal empire and feel deeply satisfied along the way. If you have an interest in buying, selling or renting property in South Florida, contact Kaya today.

Feel free to call me at: (305) 357-0635
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