How to Choose the Best Finish for Your Wood Flooring

Speedwell Design Center
October 11 2016

Wood flooring can create a huge visual impact in your home. It can make a space feel warm, open, even luxurious. It can also help reduce allergens in the home. However, choosing a finish for your wood floor is crucial to maintain its appearance and to protect the wood from scratches. There are many different types of finish, so how do you know which one is right for you?

First, you need to know if your wood floor has already been treated. Some finishes cannot be applied on top of certain products, so it's important to know what has already been used on the wood. This is also useful information when you are choosing cleaning products for your floor. If you are purchasing a new floor, the manufacturer should provide information about any treatments or finishes that are added during production. If you have a home with an existing wood floor, ask the previous owner. If that's not an option, there are tests you can perform to tell you what finishes may have been used.

Types of Finishes

- Polyurethane is the most popular finish for wood floors. It is available in both water-based and oil-based formulas. Oil-based polys are best for high-traffic areas, are more affordable, and have an amber glow many people admire. However, their strong fumes and longer drying time may be a concern. Water-based polys dry with a clear finish, have less fumes, and are more environmentally friendly. However, they are nearly twice as expensive, and the faster drying time means you must work quickly.

- Wax was one of the most commonly used finishes before polyurethane became available in the 1970s. It is less durable than a poly and requires regular upkeep. However, if you are looking for an eco-friendly finish for your wood flooring, wax may be your best solution. It is applied by hand in small areas at a time and is available in both a paste and a liquid. Polyurethanes cannot be applied on top of a wax finish.

- Shellac is another finish that used to be very popular. It is also not very durable, but it is easy to work with and inexpensive. However, a floor that has been finished with shellac can not be refinished with poly or other modern products. It can only be redone with another shellac or with wax.

- An acid-cured, or Swedish, finish is extremely durable. It dries in as little as two hours, but it can take up to 60 days to be fully cured. It is an expensive option and requires a professional to apply.

- Oil finishes are easy to apply yourself, but they are not as durable as polys. They are made from tung oil, which is non-toxic. Oil finishes should be reapplied every two or three years.

With this knowledge, you should be able to decide which finish is right for you and your wood flooring. The right finish will give your home a look that you and your family will enjoy for years to come. Visit the Speedwell Design Center showroom to see our huge flooring selection and to talk to our design experts.

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