Your hardwood floor may have its in-built resistance, but a proper finish is still needed to protect the wood from a house’s routine elements. Besides durability, a good finish can also enhance the hardwood’s texture and color, based on the finish variety chosen. Floor finishes have varying traits, which is why it’s important to pick and choose thoughtfully when considering a finish for your floor.
Gloss or Matte?
Most finish options offer choices in terms of sheen. Scuffs or scratch marks on your floor are more likely or visible with glossier or shinier finishes. A matter or smooth finish reflects little light and is high on practicality. Before picking between the two, consider how the room is used and the look you want your hardwood floors to attain. A matte floor is also more traditional.
Penetrating or Surface?
A surface and penetrating finish are two of the most popular or common hardwood floor finishes. A penetrating finish, which comprises oils, enters deep into the wood grain. It can be renewed easily, but needs special polishing and waxing care to ensure the floor stays clean and strong.
Here in Chesterfield, owners of old houses with pine or other softwood floors usually side with oil-based penetrating finishes; that’s because the finish provides the wood a vintage appearance that doesn’t look plastic and shiny. Oils help highlight the natural wood’s texture and grain. This is why fine furniture makers use this finish.
A surface finish, including polyurethane and varnishes, creates a rigid surface atop the wood. The finish provides improved protection against stains and scratches and can be easily cleaned. Such finishes are common in newer houses and gym floors. In fact, the plastic-looking, super durable gym hardwood floor refinishing is polyurethane. A surface finish is removable, but the stripping and refinishing process will take some time.
Oil or Water-Based?
Traditional hardwood finishes are usually oil-based. However, there are a few challenges to oil-based floor finishes.
Compared to a water-based finish, oil finishes take time to dry. This not just prevents you from using the area quickly enough, but an oil-based finish’s snail-paced drying time also increases its susceptibility to dirt and dust. Also, an oil finish needs mineral spirits, instead of water and soap, for cleanup.
Water-based finishes were, in fact, born owing to the aforementioned limitations of oil-based formulas. Since water evaporates fast, the drying time of water-based finishes is negligible. This also means the decreased likeliness of dust and grime getting entrapped in the floor finish. Also, there are no dangerous fumes to water, thanks to its evaporating mechanism.
A water-based finish, however, trails oil-based finishes in the durability department, but the difference isn’t too big.
Floor Finish Buying Guidelines
The hardwood finish is as important as the floor. Therefore, don’t make choices based solely on price or attractiveness. Look into what your requirements are and how durable the finish will be, having considered the amount of footfalls the floor is likely to be subjected to.
If you’re stuck between a water- and oil-based finish, consider the period (time of the year), time available for the project, drying time, and the project’s impact on the family before making a choice. Once you have a more clear idea of what kind of finish is right for you, you’ll be ready to start evaluating potential local floor refinishers – you’ll find several good ones in Chesterfield. Good luck with your floor!