To protect the wood from damage, both oil and water-based polyurethanes are like a coat of armor for a hardwood floor. Where both oil and water-based polyurethane have their strengths, each type of polyurethane is a sacrificial layer that will show scratches and wear marks over time. With this in mind, we at Mike’s Custom Flooring would like to discuss the differences between oil polyurethanes and water polyurethanes.
Which is Better Water or Oil Based Polyurethane for Hardwood Floors?
Sturdiness. The difference in durability is indiscernible if each product is applied properly using quality products. Many consumers believe water-based poly is not as durable as an oil-based poly, however, newer brands of quality water-based poly, if well taken care of, will last just as long.
Color. Water based poly is clear whereas oil-based poly has an amber hue. The water-based poly will remain clear for the lifetime of the hardwood floor. However, oil-based polyurethane will continue to amber and darken over time. An oil-based poly will still exhibit an amber hue that will continue to darken over time though this color difference is less noticeable over a stained hardwood floor.
Drying Time. Only one coat of oil-based poly can be applied to a hardwood floor in 24 hours since oil-based poly takes much longer to dry and cure. Water-based poly can several coats, up to 4, can be applied in one day as it dries much faster. While oil-based poly must dry for at least 24 hours before walking on it with socks, water-based poly can be walked on with socks in about 4-6 hours after last coat has been applied.
Scents. A strong chemical odor and noxious fumes emit and while it is drying, it should not be inhaled as oil-based poly has a very pungent smell. It is often recommended to be out of the house while oil-based poly is being applied and drying and remove any pets until the job is done as well. On the other hand, Water-based poly, has almost no smell. Unlike oil-based poly, water-based polyurethane will not stink up the space.
Density and Hardness. Though oil-based poly is a thicker poly, it is softer also. As an acrylic product, water-based poly is a thinner, but harder coating. While water-based poly can be more susceptible to surface scratching, oil poly can be more susceptible to dents. We recommend 3 coats of water-based poly as a minimum because water-based is a thinner product whereas with oil 2 coats are sufficient as a minimum. Either 3 coats of an oil-based poly or 3 coats of high durability water-based poly for people with large pets.
Cost. A more expensive product is the water-based poly when compared to oil-based polyurethane.
Hardwood Floor Installation, Repairs, Refinishing & More in Charles Town & Eastern Panhandle of Berkeley & Jefferson Counties in WV | Winchester & Frederick County | Round Hill & Loudoun County | Berryville & Clarke County | Herndon & Fairfax County VA
As mentioned, both oil polyurethanes and water polyurethanes have their own benefits. Ultimately, it comes down to consumer preferences. No matter which option is your cup of tea, you can trust in Mike’s Custom Flooring to ensure application is executed to the highest quality. When you need installation, repairs, or refinishing services in Eastern Panhandle of Berkeley and Jefferson Counties in WV as well as Frederick, Loudoun and Fairfax Counties in VA, call Mike’s Custom Flooring. We provide quality services to commercial and residential customers in the area.