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Which is Better? – Oil-Based Vs. Water-Based Polyurethane Floors

When doing hardwood floor refinishing, you might have some challenges choosing between oil and water-based polyurethane materials. Both products are suitable to refinish hardwood floors, but some differences might help you decide which product is suited for your preferred hardwood floor refinishing outcome.

Here is all the information you need to choose to decide which of our two products is better to refinish hardwood floors. It can be simple to choose, but different customers who come to us have different needs for their hardwood floor finishing. Thus it is our role to give a perfect experience.

When used to refinish hardwood floors, oil-based polyurethane gives more depth as it is shiny and looks the way we expect hardwood to look. On the other hand, water-based floors have duller colors and duller finishes.

 When Wood floor finishing is done using oil-based polyurethane materials lasts longer than one done using water-based materials. On the other hand, water-based polyurethane has less VOC’s which is more friendly to the environment.

If you choose to use water-based polyurethane for refinishing hardwood floors, remember that you will require four to five coats to match the durability of three coats of oil-based polyurethane. This is because water-based polyurethane is thinner.

 We have also noted that most customers who call us for refinishing hardwood floors call again after five to six years in cases of water-based polyurethane and around ten years for oil-based polyurethane. The water-based wood floor refinishing looks terrible; actually, they have started peeling, and the hardwood floor is turning grey.

Always bear in mind that refinishing your hardwood floor might be a bit cumbersome, especially if you live there because you need to move all your furniture and you might need to move away for some days. Thus if you decide you are going through the hassle of refinishing your hardwood floor, do it right for more durability.

Refinishing your hardwood floors using water-based polyurethane will be more expensive compared to oil-based polyurethane. On top of that cost, remember you will be required to redo it again sooner.

Water-based is also an excellent option for others for some circumstances. Wood floor finishing done using water-based polyurethane dries faster. It can be done in two days, and you can walk on the same night. This advantage is ideal, especially for commercial businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and stores.

Furthermore, water-based polyurethane doesn’t smell bad compared to oil-based polyurethane that your neighbors won’t be uncomfortable with water-based polyurethane. Water-based polyurethane also has less volatile organic compounds; thus, it is more environmentally friendly. Oil-based polyurethane has more volatile organic compounds; therefore, it is likely to interfere with the ecosystem.

However, from another perspective, hardwood floor finishing done using water-based polyurethane doesn’t last long. Thus the need to redo them more often means they will still emit more volatile organic compounds, thus canceling their benefit.

I hope you won’t be stuck again when choosing which polyurethane is better for your circumstances; with the above info, I bet you will make a perfect decision. 


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