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The Pros and Cons of Water-Based Finish for Hardwood Floors

When refinishing hardwood floors, there’s a lot of work involved. But some of the work is researching to find out what type of hardwood floor finish will work best. When you do your research, the most important thing to consider is what type of finish will be best for your specific flooring.

Pros of Water-Based Finish for Hardwood Floors

Clear finish

Water-based polyurethane provides a completely clear finish. This means that there is no amber tint that oil-based polyurethane finishes provide. Additionally, it won’t yellow over time, so if you want to make sure your hardwood floors’ color look is preserved, then a water-based finish will work do this best.

Low odor

Because of how water-based finishes are made, the odor is much less potent than if you were to use an oil-based polyurethane. Keep in mind that there is still an odor. It’s simply not as strong. If people who are sensitive to strong odors will be nearby when you’re refinishing hardwood floors, water-based is a better choice.

Dries fast

Water-based hardwood floor finishes usually dry in about two hours. This means your contractor can usually get at least two coats applied on the same day. Since it dries and cures faster than oil based, it is an excellent option for those under tight time constraints.

Environmentally friendly

Because it has a lower amount of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) than oil-based polyurethane, water-based finishes are much more environmentally friendly. As people become more concerned with the environmental impact of their choices, this can be an essential factor to consider.

Cons of Water-Based Finish for Hardwood Floors


Water-based hardwood floor finishes tend to be quite a bit more expensive than oil-based options. Additionally, you usually need an extra coat of water-based finish than you would with an oil-based finish, to handle heavier traffic.

Maintenance and Durability

Since it doesn’t last quite as long, new coats of water-based finish need to be applied more frequently than oil based. Doing this will bring back the fresh look and durability we typically look for in a hardwood floor.

Water-based polyurethane can be a great choice, depending on what your needs are. Make sure you weigh the pros and cons concerning your project to make sure it’s the right fit.

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