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Hardwood Flooring Finishes

hardwood floor finishes

Polyurethane is just one of the finishes you can have applied to your hardwood flooring.

When choosing your hardwood flooring, you will have to make a lot of decisions. You’ll have to decide how much flooring you need, what flooring species you want, between sapwood and heartwood, and even what stain you would like. As if these choices weren’t overwhelming enough, you will also have to decide between different finishes for your hardwood flooring. So how do you choose between oil-based polyurethane, water-based polyurethane, moisture-cured urethane, wax, shellac and acid-cured finishes? Let’s take a moment to discuss the pros and cons of each of these finish options.

Wax Finish

Wax finishes have been around forever and have stood the test of time. These finishes are easy to apply, have a low luster perfect for sunny homes, and penetrates into the wood. Unlike other finish options, wax has a mild odor instead of a strong one. This finish is not as durable as a poly finish and is quite susceptible to stains. It also needs regular upkeep to maintain its finish.

Water-Based Polyurethane

Water-based polyurethane has a low odor and VOCs, which makes it perfect for people with allergies or children. This finish dries extremely fast in about two to four hours. Unlike other poly finishes, this finish dries clear onto your flooring instead of leaving a yellowish tint. It is easily applied but is more expensive than oil polys and is less tough than oil.

Oil-Based Polyurethane

Oil-based polyurethane is less expensive than its water-based cousin and is extremely tough and easily applied to your hardwood flooring. It does take several hours to dry and can yellow with age, which is seen as a benefit to some. This finish is high in odor and VOCs during application but will soon dissipate after application.

Acid-Cured or Swedish Finish

Acid-cured finish, also known as the Swedish finish, is an extremely hard and durable option for your flooring. It is quick to dry but can take up to 60 days to fully cure. This is the most expensive finishes and has to be professionally installed. When installed it does omit at high VOC and volatile odors.

Moisture-Cured Urethane

This finish is extremely durable and is actually one of the hardest finishes available. But you will pay for this hardness as it is one of the most expensive finishes as well. It is also quick to dry, which could mean your professional installers can put down multiple coats per day. The fumes from this finish can last a few weeks and are extremely high in VOCs. Low humidity can actually extend the drying time to a summer installation is good.


Shellac finishes are easy to work with but do have a few harmful VOCs attached to it. This finish is inexpensive and easily to spot repair once finished. However, this finish is not very durable and must be recoated periodically. Once it is put down on your flooring, you will not be able to refinish it with a modern finish like moisture-cured urethane as it contains wax.

Call John K Eareckson & Co. Today!

At John K. Eareckson & Co., we pride ourselves on providing the best quality and craftsmanship in the Baltimore-Washington area, from custom hardwood installation and repairs to refinishing. So if you’re in the market for new hardwood flooring, pick up the phone and give us a call today! If you have any questions about New Hardwood Floors, please contact John K. Eareckson & Co. by calling 410-788-4200 or visit today for a free quote regarding any of your hardwood flooring needs. You can also follow us on FacebookGoogle+, and Twitter!

This entry was posted on Friday, May 27th, 2016 at 2:17 pm. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.