Hardwood Flooring Finish Types

Hardwood Flooring Finish Types

If you are having your floor hardwood floor refinished or having new wood installed you, may be wondering which flooring finish to choose and what the benefits and drawbacks are for each type. The right finish type and sheen is a big choice and can affect the maintenance, wear and look of the floor for many years. There are traditional finish types as well as modern options available.


Wax is the original hardwood flooring finish and has been used the longest of any of the finish products on the market. It is not as durable as a poly finish but does give the floor a muted organic look unlike the more shiny modern finishes. Wax can be reapplied in small areas and is a low-maintenance flooring finish for small short term fixes. In the long run is does need more frequently than other finishes. Switching from wax to a different finish can be complicated.

Polyurethane or Poly

Poly floor finishes come in two different options- water based and oil based. Water based poly is expensive but dries faster and is easier to apply. Water based is also lower in VOCs and odor. Oil based poly is very smelly and higher in VOCs but can be considered more durable. Water based is also more eco-friendly than oil and dries clear. Oil based poly dries with an amber tint. Polyurethane is a durable, high-gloss and long-lasting finish and can be a great flooring finish.

Swedish or Acid Cured

These are a professional-only floor polish option and can be a beautiful flooring finish. This coating option is very durable but can be costly. This finish can dry quickly and takes up to 60 days to fully cure. It does take about three days to be walked on and two weeks before furniture can be replaced. Rug and mats need to be kept off the floor for 60 days.

Moisture-Cured Urethane

Moisture cured urethane is one of the hardest finishes on the market but also has one of the highest VOCs. It does dry fast and is challenging to apply. The fumes last for a few weeks and ventilation and respirators are needed to keep you safe. After application you will need to be out of your home for two weeks to allow the house to air out.

Penetrating Oil Sealer

A penetrating oil sealer is a traditional finish type similar to wax. Oil applies easily but is not the most durable finish. The sheen level is softer than a poly finish and looks more like a wax finish without the labor. Oil penetrating sealers penetrate the wood and add a rich finish and deeper color to your floor.

When you call Colorado Hardwood Floors, we’ll help you make the best decision possible when selecting the finish for your hardwood flooring!

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