5 Hardwood Flooring Finishes (Which Is Best for Your Floor?)

Before installing hardwood flooring in your home in Oakville, consider which type of finish will work best. It doesn’t matter whether you have rich walnut, rustic oak, or warm cherry as your flooring, each requires a protective layer (called finishing) to maintain its lustre.

To help you to make the right choice, let’s look at the basic types of finishing used with hardwood flooring.

Types of Surface Finishes for Hardwood

Here, we examine five of the most common wooden floor finishes. Which is best for your home?

1. Water-Based Polyurethane

For a clear finish that dries quickly, water-based polyurethane is the best option as it leaves the floor shiny and smooth. Upon application, it will appear milky but will become clear as it dries. This will help your floor avoid yellowing for a long time. High- and semi-gloss are the main options.

The use of plasticizers and synthetic resins makes it durable and increases its resistance to moisture. Cleaning this type of finish requires only the occasional use of a broom and damp mop. It is better to clean low-traffic areas like bedrooms monthly whereas high-traffic areas like a dining room or living room require weekly cleaning. Never use wax over the polyurethane as it dulls the finish.

If you care about the environment, water-based polyurethane is the best option as it releases fewer VOCs. Following the application, it dries quickly which allows you to apply another coat in a mere two to four hours. (A minimum of four coats is recommended for a shiny finish.) However, you need to wait at least 48 hours before moving furniture into the room and it is better to walk in with bare feet for a few days post-installation.

2. Oil-Based Polyurethane 

For high-traffic areas like the dining or living room, it is better to choose oil-based polyurethane for your hardwood flooring in Oakville.

Similar to the water-based option, it uses synthetic resin and plasticizer to make it durable. The only difference is the addition of linseed oil which makes the finish thick and resilient. Commercial properties use this finish most often, but you can apply it in your home too. Its durability means you won’t have to refinish it for a long time. Regular vacuuming or sweeping is all you need to maintain it.

Oil-based polyurethane has an amber tint that maintains the floor’s similar amber colour. It is possible to find the finish in semi-gloss, high-gloss, and satin sheens.

To complete the project, clean it with it mineral spirits the first time. Three coats are recommended, and you need to keep a gap of about 10 hours between coats.

3. Wax 

Hardwood Flooring

If you prefer a low sheen, choose a wax finish. This was the first choice among homeowners for the century before polyurethane finishes first appeared in the 1960s. It remains a popular option as it is easy to apply and looks natural.

Both liquid and paste wax are available. Liquid wax is applied with the help of a wool applicator whereas paste wax uses a rag. A colour can be given to the floor as you finish it by mixing a wood stain into the wax.

However, a wax finish is not durable and is prone to white marks when exposed to water. Therefore, it is not going to be a good option for kitchens or bathrooms.

4. Shellac

Shellac is a natural product made from denatured alcohol mixed with secretions from the Asian lac bug. It is used to finish and seal wood and dries quickly to give an orange tint with a high gloss finish. The surface becomes matte if you add more denatured alcohol.

It is easy to touch up, as a coat can be added when necessary. You can rub wax over shellac but not polyurethane. If you decide to change from shellac to polyurethane, you will need to strip it completely.

Compared to polyurethane, shellac is not a good option for high-traffic areas as it cannot withstand a lot of footfall.

5. Acid Wash Finish 

For an exotic-looking hardwood floor, it is best to use an acid wash finish (also known as Swedish or conversion finish). You can also use this finish for elaborately-patterned floors like parquet. Compared to polyurethane, it is more durable and adds a layer of protection.

To stop fumes and odours that arise from the finish, acid is used while keeping alcohol as the base. The result is a shiny surface that is durable and resistant to chemical damage. It also helps to highlight the hardwood’s natural beauty, grain, and colour.

Don’t stress if you are thinking about installing wood flooring with a high-quality finish in your home. Look at the types of finishes and choose between water- or oil-based polyurethane, wax, shellac, and an acid wash coat. Still unsure? Talk to our flooring professionals. Your desired flooring finish should complement your home and lifestyle, with no sign of damages for years to come, even if the area is a busy one.



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