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Most Durable Floor Finish - 

Water or Oil ?

January 23, 2019

BY Laura Anzures

Which polyurethane formula is best for protecting your hardwood flooring? Are water based formulas worth the extra cost or should you go with an oil based polyurethane? Having your hardwood flooring refinished involves moving everything out, staying off the floors and then moving everything back.  Admittedly, this can be a pain in the butt, especially when you have kids and pets.  When you have your floors refinished, you want that finish to last as long as possible. With cheap floor finishes, you have to apply a new coat of polyurethane every 2-5 years.  What a headache! 


Our clients are willing to pay a little more to get a floor finish that will last at least 10 - 15 years. Daniels Floors uses the same commercial grade finishes in homes as we use in high traffic locations, such as stores and restaurants. The question asked by most prospective clients is, "Which floor finish is better? Water or Oil?"  There is no simple answer to that.  There are a range of products in both formulas. As experienced flooring professionals, we are able to recommend the best product for your needs. For  example, for a natural, maple, clear grade floor, we recommend a sealer followed by three coats of Bona Traffic (two component)  waterbourne ,"Matte" finish for a light, Scandinavian look. On antique Heart Pine flooring, we recommend a sealer and two top coats of Poloplaz Supreme, oil modified, "Satin", finish for a deep rich tone with a subtle luster. 


Polyurethane coats the top of the flooring, forming a protective layer over the wood. It can be applied over a sealer, for a clear, natural look, or over stain and a sealer when colored wood is desired. The key to selecting a durable polyurethane finish is the amount of "solids" in the formula. The solids are what protect the floor. Bargain floor finishes are generally low in solids. This is why they need to be re-applied after only a couple of years.  Water based formulas are lower in solids than premium oil modified finishes.  This is why we apply an additional coat of water based polyurethane.  


A penetrating hard wax oil finish is an option many consumers may not have considered.  Daniels Floors prefers Rubio Monocoat, which penetrates the wood, bonding on a molecular level to harden the wood grain. Monocoat, as the name implies, only requires the application of one coat. This is a plant based, Zero VOC, non-toxic formula.  Rubio Monocoat is available is 53 colors with options for treatments such as "smoked" and "fumed" and pre-color treatments for contrasting grain colors. 


Bottom line, there is not a "one size fits all" option in floor finishes. Water based is best for some floors and oil based or oil modified is best for others. Daniels Floors helps clients determine which finish is best for their wood species, interior design and lifestyles.