Hardwood Floor Refinishing – Water Based Finish Vs. Oil Based Finish

If you have been spending time looking at your hardwood floors and are thinking of ways to cover them up instead of showing them off, you may realize that it is time to get serious about refinishing them. One decision you’ll need to make is what type of finish you will choose in order to ensure that your floors are protected from the wear and tear associated with time.

Hardwood floor finishes come in many varieties, Conversion Varnishes, Moisture Cured Urethanes, Wax’s, Shellac’s and Varnishes. Essentially though you can confidently narrow your choice down to two options: Oil Modified Urethanes and Waterborne Urethane. Both have their pros and cons and once you have heard both sides of the story you should be able to determine what type of finish will be best for you.

Oil Modified Urethanes are petroleum based with a blend of synthetics resins, plasticizers and other film forming ingredients that produce a durable, moisture-resistant coating. Over time the finish will amber, leaving a warm natural look. Oil based finishes are less expensive, feel smoother to the touch and tend to have a richer look than water based urethanes.  On the downside, oil-based finishes are more toxic, containing higher VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds). They’re also stronger smelling which usually precludes staying in the house while the coating is taking place.  Once dry, the odour from the solvent may still be discernable for several days but shouldn’t’ cause any discomfort to the residents unless they are sensitive to smells or have acute allergies. The finish is also less durable than water based finish and takes longer to dry.

Waterborne Urethanes are a blend of synthetic resins, plasticizers, and other film forming ingredients that produce a durable, moisture resistant coating. There are both one and two component waterborne finishes. While single-component finishes are ready to use out of the canister, two-component finishes have a catalyst or cross linker mixed into them at the job site. The two component finishes are more durable and considered essential for a commercial hardwood floor. These finishes are environmentally friendly with lower VOC’s than other hardwood floor finishes. As a result they’re considered low odour, meaning you don’t necessarily have to leave your home during refinishing. Waterborne finishes are also non-yellowing so will not change colour over time. They’re fast drying so you will be back on your floors at least a day earlier than if you used an oil-based finish. They’re also considered more durable than the oil based finishes. The downside to waterborne finishes would be that there more expensive and not quite as smooth to the touch as an oil based coatings. Also because of there fast drying nature, some floor layouts can prevent the finish from being flawless.

In conclusion we can see that both types of finishes have their pros and cons. The facts presented will hopefully help you to determine what type of finish is right for you. So whether you opt for the silky feel of an oil finish or its environmentally friendly water based counterpart, rest assured that both finishes will give your floors the protection needed to endure the years to come.

For more information on refinishing floors please get in contact with Restoration Hardwood. They offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee for every hardwood floor refinishing Vancouver project that they complete.

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