Choosing a floor finish

Written by Matt

Why do we recommend water-based floor finishes?

Choosing a floor finish to coat a wood floor? Two types of polyurethane are available: oil-based (solvent-borne) and water-based urethane (water-borne). Oil-based products were originally the standard in the industry until the development of water-based floor finishes. Over the past few decades, with the demand for a safer, more eco-friendly product, water-based finishes have evolved and are now the first choice for wood floor refinishing contractors on Vancouver Island, BC. Here are some of the advantages of water-based polyurethane.

choosing a floor finishChoosing a floor finish




Eco-Friendly, Healthier & Safer

One of the most significant advantages of water-based floor finishes is the safety they provide. Unlike their oil-based counterparts, water-based products emit virtually no VOCs (volatile organic compounds), making them a much healthier choice for homeowners, tenants, and contractors. In fact, on Vancouver Island, oil-based polyurethanes are no longer recommended due to their strong fumes and VOC exposure. Water-based finishes are not only safer but also non-flammable, providing an extra layer of security for your home and loved ones.


Water-based floor finishes have evolved as manufacturers develop better chemistry, delivering greater resistance to abrasion. Improved binders and additives have now made water-based floor finishes the most durable coating systems for wood flooring. Top-shelf products like Loba and Bona have been tested to be more durable than oil-based floor finishes. Vancouver Island Floor Finishing recommends the best quality products for long-lasting endurance. We recommend protecting your floor by frequent cleaning dirt and grit, placing throw rugs on high traffic areas, and feet protectors on furniture.

Faster Dry Time

Water-based finishes are known for their fast dry times, so two coats of finish can be applied in one day. Ideally, homes can be occupied in as little as 4 hours. A 3-coat oil-based coating system can take several days to dry and a few days for fumes to evacuate the home. Slower drying times may be an advantage for do-it-yourself and inexperienced tradespeople as they are more forgiving and allow time to correct mistakes when coating. For this reason, water-based finishes require a higher level of skill to apply. I’ve used water-based polyurethane for years and find these finishes to look and perform exceptionally well in all situations.

Water-based floor finishes are clear coats that maintain the natural colour of the wood and highlight the grain. Oil-based finishes are known to darken the colour of many wood floor species. Over time, and with UV exposure, the oil finish changes colour to a yellowish amber tone. It is a matter of preference whether this is desirable or not. However, with a water-based finish, you will know from the beginning what colour the floor will be, as water-based finishes discolour only slightly over time. This is especially necessary for keeping a natural look on wood like maple, whitewashed, and lightly stained floors.

More useful information…

Vancouver Island floor finishing

Wood floor refinishing, cleaning, and restoration. All finishes, cleaning, and refinishing supplies are supplied to Vancouver Island, BC cities.

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