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Types of Wood Floor Finishes

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

The kind of finish your wood floor has will affect how it will hold up after years of use. Wood floor finishes help lengthen the life of your flooring. The finish protects the surface of your floor from dents, dirt, and moisture. The finish also provides attractive sheen and color to your flooring. Back then, most wood floors are finished with a stain and top coat. But the market now offers a great selection of wood finishes to choose from. And to make the best choice, we are listing down the different types of wood floor finishes to consider:

Oil-Modified Urethane

Oil-modified urethane is perhaps the most common of all surface finish. This is a petroleum-based finish that combines synthetic resins with plasticizers and other film-forming compounds to create a durable finish that resist moisture and superficial scratches effectively. This solvent-based wood finish will develop a beautiful amber color as it ages.

Surface Wood Floor Finishes

Durable, water-resistant and low maintenance, surface wood floor finish features a blend of synthetic resins to form a protective coating on the wood. The finish comes in high gloss, semi-gloss, satin, and matte. Surface wood floor finishes are typically applied to kitchen floors.

Moisture-Cured Urethane

Just like oil-modified urethane, moisture-cured urethane is a solvent-based wood finish that is hardwearing. However, moisture-cured urethane resists moisture better than any other surface finishes. It is also available in ambering and non-yellowing formula in satin or gloss finish. Do note that moisture-cured urethane is difficult to apply and the product has a strong odor. As such, this wood finish is best left to the professionals to apply. In addition, this wood finish requires curing. When the finish dries up, the fumes are released into the hair. Note that the curing process is reliant on the humidity of the room. Once it sets properly, the finish will dry and harden to lengthen the life of your flooring!

Water-Based Urethane

This is a water-based urethane made from synthetic resins, plasticizers, and other film-forming compounds to create a hardy, moisture-resistant surface. The finish comes in clear and non-yellowing. The sheen comes in high gloss, semi-floss, and satin. Unlike moisture-cured urethane, water-based urethane does not generate odorous fumes and dries fairly quickly (about 3 hours). However, this product is one of the most expensive of all wood floor finishes.

Penetrating Sealers

Sealers are solvent-based finishes applied on the floor to protect the surface from scratches, dirt, and foot traffic. This product is made from linseed oil or tung as well as other additives to boost hardiness. Usually, penetrating sealers come in various colors and are used to stain and seal the wood color.

Paste Wax

This is the oldest of all wood floor finishes and still the best of all. The wax is affordable, easy to apply, and dries very fast. With proper care, paste wax will last for decades. To adjust the sheen, add thin layers of stain and sealers.


This is a vinyl-based finish formulated with vegetable oils. Varnish is typically used in conjunction with urethane finishes.


Lacquer adds a beautiful stain and sheen to wood flooring, but it is a highly flammable material. As such, most manufacturers do not recommend using lacquer as wood flooring finish.

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