Urethane Finishes for Your Wood Floor

Urethane is the term for a group of chemicals that are used in a variety of applications to add strength, wear and abrasion resistance to a variety of products.

Urethane finishes are a good choice for high-traffic areas. They will work where there is a high probability of spills.

Urethanes finishes have a long life, but some yellow with age, especially if they’re exposed to direct sunlight. In sunny rooms, a finish that contains an ultraviolet inhibitor will last longer.

There are several different kinds of urethane finishes for wood floors. Here’s a quick review.

Water-based urethane finishes are usually combinations of urethane and acrylic. In general, the higher the percentage of urethane, the more expensive and durable the coating will be. Water-based finishes do little to change the color of the wood.

Water-based urethane finishes are clear. They don’t yellow and are available in different shine levels. They also have a milder odor than oil-modified finishes and dry more quickly. Overall, water-based urethanes are considered the most popular finishes with homeowners.

Oil-modified urethane finishes are fast drying but slow to cure and require buffing between coats. Oil-modified urethane also has a high VOC level, although not as high as other products. Oil-modified urethane will give you a moisture-resistant finish, though it takes about eight hours to dry. Oil-modified urethanes are available in glossy and satin finishes.

Moisture-cured urethane finishes create the most wear-resistant surface which is why they’re popular for commercial buildings. They are also extremely flammable, difficult to apply because relative humidity affects the process. They also contain high levels of VOCs. Moisture-cured urethane finishes should only be applied by professionals.

Another finish that should only be applied by professionals goes by the names “Swedish” or “Bona” finish. These finishes are low VOC and are generally more expensive, but they have a reputation for durability, transparency and elasticity. The fast curing rate minimizes downtime, meaning that you can use the floor sooner. Bona finishing is colorless, which highlights the true color of stained or natural wood floors.

The biggest disadvantage of a lacquered finish on a wooden floor is that it ‘sits’ on the floor. A sharp object or long-term abrasion can wear away the surface. When that happens it doesn’t protect the wood any longer. The wood may look grey in spite of maintenance efforts and some “cleaning” efforts can actually make things worse.

If you live in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) one of our Flooring Consultants will be happy to help you make a wise decision about flooring finishes.

You should also review the parts of our site that cover types of flooring ways to install, and maintain and restore your flooring. While you’re here, we hope you’ll take a moment to find out more about TipTop Flooring and the professional flooring services that we deliver in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Discover how TipTop Flooring will help you get the most from your flooring investment. If you have a question, we’ll be happy to answer it. When you’re ready to schedule a consultation, we’ll be ready to help.