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Oil Based Finish vs Water Based Finish: Making the Choice

Your hardwood floors are a major part of the style and functionality of your home. Floors that look good add character and warmth to your space. When it's time to refinish those floors, you have different finishing options that give you different looks. How do you know if you need an oil based finish or a water based finish? There are a few things to consider.

Protection With an Oil Based Finish vs Water Based Finish

Start by thinking about the type of protection your floor needs. The finish will help protect your hardwoods for years to come.

A water based finish dries quickly and will be harder than an oil based finish. That means it is not as susceptible to dents. However, the thinner coat may show scratches more easily. Pet claws, hard shoes and toys could all take a toll on your floors, so a water finish may not work well in playrooms or certain high-traffic areas.

When an oil based finish dries, it's a bit thicker on the floors. Because of this, the finish will last on the floors longer, which means longer protection. However, the final coat is a bit soft. You may notice dents or impressions on the floor where furniture sits.

Color Choices for Your Floor

When you start your floor refinishing process, keep in mind what color you want your floors to be when you are done. Both water based and oil based finishes offer a wide variety of colors for your hardwoods. However, each product delivers color a bit differently.

Water based finishes will dry with the same look as when you apply them. The color doesn't change over time, so what you pick is your final look. These finishes are great for wood floors that have a nice natural color that you want to highlight.

If you want to add more dramatic coloring to your floor, an oil based finish may be a better option. The final tone of the finish is a bit warmer and deeper. The color will also get richer over time as it soaks into the wood more. This can add a nice charm to your hardwood floors and prevent your room from feeling cold.

Application Requirements

The choice between finishes should also account for the logistics of your floor refinishing project. The two products have very different application requirements that you need to plan for.

Using a water based finish will be a much faster process. The finish dries very quickly, making it easy to get multiple coats down in one day. Each coat could dry in just a couple of hours. However, you will need three or four coats for a good finish, so the process will still take a while. Water based finishes also dry with little to no odor, making it easier to get back to using your space sooner.

Plan on longer drying times with an oil based finish. Each coat could take 12 to 16 hours to dry since the product is thicker. While you need fewer coats than with a water based polyurethane, you still need at least two coats. That means you will likely spend a day or more on the process. Oil based products also have a strong smell that takes a while to dissipate, so it may be a while before you can move back into the room.

Long-Term Maintenance

Finally, think about the long-term maintenance for your floors. Water based finishes may go on quickly and easily, but you may need to apply additional coats in just a few years. Oil based finishes require less work down the line as long as you use the proper cleaners on your floors.

Whether you pick a water based finish or an oil based finish, floor refinishing will make your home look great. Check out Blue Ridge Floors to get the right expertise for your project now.



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