This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission from purchases made through them, at no additional cost to you.
Any renovating or finishing of floors requires a superior quality finish and the best polyurethane for floors is the way to go. Discover the best water-based polyurethane and oil-based polyurethanes and how to use them correctly to create beautiful and functional floors.
Table of Contents
- 1 Oil-Based or Water-Based Flooring Finishes
- 2 Best Polyurethane for Floors
- 3 Considerations for Buying Polyurethane for Floors
- 4 Guide to Applying Polyurethane to Floors
- 5 Guidelines to Follow for Polyurethane for Floors
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions
- 6.1 Water-Based Flooring Finishes or Oil-Based, Which is Better?
- 6.2 Are Water-Based Polyurethanes the Right Choice for Floors?
- 6.3 What is the Dry-Time for Water-Based Polyurethanes?
- 6.4 Is Sanding Required Between Layers of Water-Based Polyurethane?
- 6.5 How Frequently Should One Refinish Wooden Floors?
- 6.6 To Apply the Polyurethane, Can I Use a Roller?
Oil-Based or Water-Based Flooring Finishes
Both of these options offer protection for your floors, it can also be applied to both the traditional hardwood and developed hardwood. However, there are a few distinctive differences.
Water-Based Flooring Finishes
This type of polyurethane for floors when applied is clear and will not affect the wood color. It also dries faster and is a lot thinner than other options. After about 8 to 12 hours after the floors have been completed, you can walk on them.
Why Choose Water-based Flooring Finishes
- When you do not have enough time
- If you think the odor is going to be a problem with other options
- Use if you are going to renovate maple and want it to look natural
- If you want to keep the organic appearance of any surface
- Choose if you are going to use a gray blend or stain, or a whitewash
Oil-Based Polyurethane Floors
Developed mostly for hardwood surfaces, oil-based polyurethane can offer a protective overlay that will preserve and maintain the look for many years.
Why Choose Oil-Based Polyurethane Floors
- Wanting to pay less
- If you have a dark wood
- Looking to produce a dark stain
Best Polyurethane for Floors
Thinking of adding a polyurethane finish to your floor? This is a great idea, as it is both a durable and attractive solution. We have picked out some of the best products to choose from below.
Best Oil-based Polyurethane for Floors: Minwax Polyurethane
Minwax polyurethane for floors offers an amazingly clear finish that dries super-fast and is perfect as a topcoat for any indoor wooden floors. You can also use it on other wood surfaces like paneling, doors, trim, furniture, and cabinets. The finished floors clean easily by simply using some soapy warm water. You can use this oil-based polyurethane on bare wood or on wood with a finish.
You can recoat in a short time, after two hours, as there is a low number of VOCs. When you measure the Minwax polyurethane for floors against other solvent-based polyurethanes, the product dries quickly, with very little odor, and provides an amazingly clear finish. The product not only protects but also enhances the beauty of the wood.
Applying is simple, stir thoroughly, and then using a T-bar floor coater, apply a thin layer to your surface. Let this dry for two hours, then begin with another coat. Stop a further two hours and spread over a third layer. Once completed, leave for 24 hours before using it.
Minwax polyurethane for floors comes in various sheens from satin, to gloss and semi-gloss. The result is durable and gives the wood a stylish appearance. For best results, apply at least three layers and use the correct tools including a lambswool applicator or synthetic bristled brush and a foam brush.
Best Water-Based Polyurethane for Floors: Bona Mega Floor Finish
The Bona Mega product can be placed among average water-based flooring finishes, great for those who have to work with a small budget. But it still provides the best results, as the formula has been designed to offer excellent capabilities.
One of the Bona Mega water-based polyurethane reviews states that it is an oxygen crosslinking pole, which produces accurate results and meets all industry standards. You can purchase the product as semi-gloss, gloss, or satin. You will not find any additives, which only improves the natural appearance of your wood surface. Benefits include no finish wastage and there is no limit to the processing or pot time.
Provided instructions are simple to follow and should produce an excellent outcome. Have a high traffic surface? No problem, the Bona Mega will still hold up under pressure. However, when you apply, make sure to do it when it is humid or warm. Try not to wear shoes when applying, rather put on some socks, as the hard shoes will leave marks.
There should hardly be any odor to the product when applying, which makes it safe to use around pets. Also, if you suffer from breathing issues, you should be able to apply this product without problems. The water based polyurethane reviews for this product are excellent on Amazon.
Best Premium Polyurethane for Floors: Bona Mega Clear
This product is more of a premium choice when it comes to the best water-based polyurethane. This is because it offers superior results, a great look, and performance. The available sheen is satin and has been formulated to provide the best water-based polyurethane. The properties deliver great scratch resistance and there is no amber tint, which means that it will not turn yellow over time.
The product is nice to work with, as it has extremely little odor and is also non-flammable. You can take a single gallon and it ought to overlay 600 square feet. On the label, you should find that it says you should not apply if the temperature is too high or low, or in a room with high humidity.
You do not have a limit on your processing or pot time, so you will not have any wasted product. The results offer great clarity and will improve the floor’s appearance drastically. It also offers exceptional flow and leveling features as well as a quick dry time. In only two to three hours, it should be dry, however, it is only fully cured in a week.
Considerations for Buying Polyurethane for Floors
The polyurethane is there to form a protective layer over your floor, and in most cases, you will need three coats to get the best results and ensure it is durable enough. The brand you choose is important and is what decides whether the floor lasts as it should or not.
Your choice, unfortunately, does depend on what you can spend, but you also need to consider the color you are looking for and the type of wood you are going to coat.
Oil-Based vs. Water-Based
Your choice depends on what outcome you are looking for. The best water-based polyurethane for floors offers a quicker dry time, minimal odor, and a crystal clear finish. The oil-based polyurethanes were more common in the past, but with all the new research and formula improvements, the water-based polyurethanes have stepped up.
Where once the oil-based products provided better durability, now the water-based products can offer the same, some even better. Since there have been numerous improvements, water-based polyurethane for floors should be closely considered.
The advantages of water-based polyurethanes are that they are more affordable, yet they offer durability, cure easily, has less odor, and provides a great finish. Consider the next few factors when purchasing water-based polyurethane.
There are improved formulas on the market, which can offer enhancements, like the Deft Interior and exterior Polyurethane. The enhancements provide protection from damages, which also takes into account damages that are caused by the weather.
The Time it Takes to Cure
Water-based polyurethanes dry quickly, and you can use your furniture and floors in a few days after being applied. If you do have heavy traffic, you should think about choosing a polyurethane that has been formulated with fast-drying capabilities.
If you are concerned about the odor, look for a brand that observes all the environmental and VOC standards. Furthermore, you should work in a well-ventilated space and consider wearing a mask.
The Cost of Polyurethane Floors
Look around for the best water-based polyurethane, that also offers a good price. Bona Mega Polyurethane is an example of an effective product that is well priced.
If your project is a tabletop or involves surfaces outside, consider a polyurethane that will not yellow over time.
Is it Easy to Clean
This especially important if the surface is going to be used often and will need to be cleaned often. Choose a polyurethane that is easy to clean once applied.
Guide to Applying Polyurethane to Floors
There are quite a few things you need for this type of job, but most are not expensive and are easy to get. So, you have chosen the kind of polyurethane you want to use. Next, you should research the brands available to find the right match for you. Try to find a brand that is open about their products and has a help number, in case, you need some advice.
You will need to get yourself an orbital sander if you do not have one already. You should be able to rent one from a hardware store and while you are there, make sure to get yourself different kinds of sandpaper. Preferably, to start, get 36, 60, and 120-grit sandpaper. Remember to also get yourself some 220-grit sandpaper and also a pole sander to use between layers. You can also make your own pole sander out of a sanding block and broom handle.
The brushes you use must be urethane compatible and the applicator should either be lambswool or synthetic. To get into difficult nooks and corners, use a T-bar coater, which is great for water-based products. A roller might be a better choice in other cases.
Preparation is always important, as it lays down the foundation for the rest of the work and if not done will affect the result. So, even if it is tiresome, it is necessary. You can start by vacuuming the surface to pick up the dust. Open some windows, so the dust will not just settle down again.
Next, sand off the old floor finishes using the orbital sander. You can easily find some instructions online if are in doubt about how to use it. Begin using the roughest sandpaper and work on to the finer paper.
Do not keep the sander in one spot for too long, as you might sand a bit too much and run the risk of scratching the wood. Once done, make sure there are no splinters or uneven areas. Clean and vacuum all the dust up and wipe clean using mineral spirits and a clean soft cloth.
Applying the Polyurethane for Floors
Once the floor has been well prepared, you can apply the polyurethane. Stir the product using a paint stick, do not shake the container, this will just add air bubbles. Put your applicator or brush into the polyurethane and remove the excess. Choose a corner and then begin about a foot from there, apply with the grain of the wood. To make sure the coat is even, stretch out your strokes and then as you move overlap each application.
Check to see for any signs of dripping, fix if necessary, and then wait a few minutes. Check again for any missed spaces or problems. Then apply to the corners and merge into the wood boards. Let the first coat dry, then move on to the next coat. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions, this will tell you the drying times for the specific product.
When the floor has dried properly, you can wet sand any problems like drip marks. You can then start the whole process over again, allowing each coat to dry before the next one is applied. You will have to do about two or three coats. But make sure about this by checking with the flooring manufacturer.
Note: It is not difficult to coat your wooden floor with polyurethane, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done correctly. Make sure you have the facts, have patience, and are ready to finish the job.
Guidelines to Follow for Polyurethane for Floors
Stir Before Applying
When preparing the polyurethane before application, always stir and never shake the container. Shaking will only produce bubbles, which will then alter the final finish. Stir properly, to begin with, and stir again before each layer is applied.
Your workspace should have plenty of ventilation and must be clean, you do not want dust floating around and landing on the applied polyurethane while it is still curing, which could take hours. Any dust or dirt will ruin the final finish. Also, if you are working with strong odors, a well-ventilated space is even more necessary.
Apply an Even Layer
To avoid dripping and ruining the final finish, apply thin even layers onto your flat floor. If you still find that it is dripping, let the coat dry and then remove them with a blade and clean with a soft cloth. Make sure to use the exact tool for application for your specific polyurethane project.
- Brush on for flat surfaces
- Wipe on for contoured surface
- Spray for a surface that is hard to reach
Inspect Your Work
Before your coating dries, always inspect your work to check for imperfections. Bumps, bubbles, and other marks can be detected in the proper light. Get close, so you can see where there are uneven areas or other problems. Inspecting before the coat dries will allow fixing problems before they cause unnecessary difficulties.
Frequently Asked Questions
Water-Based Flooring Finishes or Oil-Based, Which is Better?
Water-based polyurethane options are commonly the best choice, but not every time. Water-based polyurethanes tend to offer similar results as the oil-based option but takes less time and also has other benefits.
Oil-based polyurethanes are also more expensive than the water-based variety. But oil-based finishes do offer a more glossy and smooth finish. However, as a floor application, this might not be the result you want, as it increases the risk of somebody falling. If this is in a busy area and somebody slips, this could also pose legal problems. Therefore, water-based polyurethane is, in most cases, the best option for floors.
Are Water-Based Polyurethanes the Right Choice for Floors?
Yes, as mentioned above these are a great choice for floors. Water-based floor finishes help to protect and create long-lasting floors. You can even use and apply it to non-wooden floors and is a popular choice for many reasons. The main reasons for this are:
- The water-based polyurethanes dry fast, faster than the oil-based options. If you are doing floors, you do not want to have to wait for long periods until you can use the room again
- Water-based finishes provide a clear look and enhance the appearance of natural wood
What is the Dry-Time for Water-Based Polyurethanes?
You want to make sure you take your time when refinishing your floors, you do not want to ruin the final finish. Set aside a whole day so the floor is sure to dry properly.
Verify the manufacturer’s directions to make sure of the dry time, as this could vary between products. Generally, you should wait 24 hours or more until it fully cures. This might seem like a long time, especially if you want to get back into the room. In most cases, these products dry to the touch in 4 to 6 hours. But will need longer to cure fully. Even though you might be able to touch it at this time, it is not advisable to walk on it.
Is Sanding Required Between Layers of Water-Based Polyurethane?
Many have different ideas on the subject, but the instructions on most water-based polyurethane recommend you do sand between coats.
Begin with the first coat and let this dry completely. Then take fine-grit sandpaper and sand the surface, which will roughen the surface and make it easier for the next coat to adhere. Try not to remove too much of the coating when sanding, the layers are usually thin, and you could reach the wood underneath. This can easily happen on the first coat. Only use lighter sanding strokes and fine paper to ensure this does not happen.
How Frequently Should One Refinish Wooden Floors?
A polyurethane floor is exposed to many things and over some time can take some damage. So, you will need to repair these damages every so often. Since these coatings are durable, you will only need to do this every 7 to ten years. If the floors were done properly, maybe even longer.
This is all subject to how much strain the floor is under. If there is heavy traffic, you will need to refinish sooner than on surfaces that has less usage. Also, floors that get wet often will need refinishing sooner.
To Apply the Polyurethane, Can I Use a Roller?
Many use a paintbrush to apply the finish, but a roller is just as good. A roller might be better, as it does not produce any brush strokes. Simply coat the roller in some mineral spirits before you begin.
The roller also provides more even layers and makes it easier to apply to more sizeable areas. A paintbrush is more suited to smaller areas, as a roller will not work here. So, the best option is a roller brush for floors, which will go faster and do a better job.
Polyurethane offers a brilliant sealing solution for floors. This substance is strong, versatile, durable, and enhances the natural beauty of wood. If you are looking for the perfect floor finish, then be sure to consider one of the best polyurethane option listed above.