Best Oil-based Polyurethane for Hardwood Floors: The Ultimate Guide

Oil-based polyurethane is a type of finish used to protect hardwood floors. It is a type of polyurethane made from a mixture of oil and a resin that hardens over time to form a protective layer on the surface of the wood. This layer helps to protect the wood from damage caused by water, heat, and household chemicals.

Oil-based polyurethane is popular for hardwood floors due to its durability and clear, glossy finish. It is easy to apply, dries quickly, and can be used on various types of hardwood flooring. The best oil-based polyurethanes for hard flows are: 

ZAR 36212 Ultra Max Oil Modified Polyurethane, QT, Satin
Bona Ultimate Hardwood Floor Care Kit - Includes Microfiber Mop, Hardwood Floor Cleaning Solution and Refill, Hardwood Floor Polish, Microfiber Cleaning Pads, and Microfiber Dusting Pad
Dura Seal Quick Coat 2-hour Penetrating Finish - 110 Neutral
Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane Protective Wood Finish, Warm Satin, 1 Quart
Varathane 262006 Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain, Quart, Dark Walnut
ZAR 36212 Ultra Max Oil Modified Polyurethane, QT, Satin
Bona Ultimate Hardwood Floor Care Kit - Includes Microfiber Mop, Hardwood Floor Cleaning Solution and Refill, Hardwood Floor Polish, Microfiber Cleaning Pads, and Microfiber Dusting Pad
Dura Seal Quick Coat 2-hour Penetrating Finish - 110 Neutral
Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane Protective Wood Finish, Warm Satin, 1 Quart
Varathane 262006 Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain, Quart, Dark Walnut
$34.47
$79.98
$31.99
$14.97
$13.47
ZAR 36212 Ultra Max Oil Modified Polyurethane, QT, Satin
ZAR 36212 Ultra Max Oil Modified Polyurethane, QT, Satin
$34.47
Bona Ultimate Hardwood Floor Care Kit - Includes Microfiber Mop, Hardwood Floor Cleaning Solution and Refill, Hardwood Floor Polish, Microfiber Cleaning Pads, and Microfiber Dusting Pad
Bona Ultimate Hardwood Floor Care Kit - Includes Microfiber Mop, Hardwood Floor Cleaning Solution and Refill, Hardwood Floor Polish, Microfiber Cleaning Pads, and Microfiber Dusting Pad
$79.98
Dura Seal Quick Coat 2-hour Penetrating Finish - 110 Neutral
Dura Seal Quick Coat 2-hour Penetrating Finish - 110 Neutral
$31.99
Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane Protective Wood Finish, Warm Satin, 1 Quart
Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane Protective Wood Finish, Warm Satin, 1 Quart
$14.97
Varathane 262006 Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain, Quart, Dark Walnut
Varathane 262006 Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain, Quart, Dark Walnut
$13.47

If you have hardwood floors, you probably want to keep them looking their best for as long as possible. One of the best ways to do this is by applying a polyurethane protective coating. But with so many different types of polyurethane on the market, it can be difficult to know which one is the best option for your hardwood floors.

This article will look closely at oil-based polyurethane, one of the most popular options for protecting and preserving hardwood floors.

Benefits of Oil-based Polyurethane for Hardwood Floors

Oil-based polyurethane has been a popular choice for protecting hardwood floors for many years, and it’s not hard to see why. This type of polyurethane offers several key benefits, making it a great choice for homeowners and flooring professionals.

Durability and Protection

One of the biggest benefits of oil-based polyurethane is its durability and protective properties. This type of polyurethane forms a strong, long-lasting barrier over your hardwood floors’ surface, helping protect them from scratches, scuffs, and other types of damage. Additionally, oil-based polyurethane is water-resistant, making it a great choice for homes with high traffic or in areas with a lot of moisture.

Enhances Natural Beauty

Another benefit of oil-based polyurethane is its ability to enhance the natural beauty of your hardwood floors. Unlike some other types of floor finishes, oil-based polyurethane does not yellow over time or dull the appearance of your floors. Instead, it helps to bring out the natural grain and color of the wood, giving your floors a warm, inviting look that will last for years to come.

Comparison of Top Oil-based Polyurethanes for Hardwood Floors

When it comes to choosing an oil-based polyurethane for your hardwood floors, there are several options available. In this section, we will compare some of the top oil-based polyurethanes on the market, so you can decide which one is right for you.

Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane

Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane is a popular choice for homeowners and flooring professionals alike. This oil-based polyurethane dries quickly, making it a great choice for those who want to finish their floors as soon as possible. Additionally, it provides a clear, natural-looking finish that helps to enhance the beauty of your hardwood floors.

Benefits

The biggest benefit of Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane is its quick drying time. This makes it a great choice for those who want to finish their floors quickly and return to using them. Additionally, this polyurethane provides a clear, natural-looking finish that helps to enhance the beauty of your hardwood floors.

Drawbacks

One potential drawback of Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane is that it may not be as durable as other oil-based polyurethanes on the market. Additionally, this polyurethane is not water-resistant, making it a less suitable choice for homes with high traffic or for those in areas with a lot of moisture.

1. Bona Mega Wood Floor Finish

Bona Ultimate Hardwood Floor Care Kit - Includes Microfiber Mop, Hardwood Floor Cleaning Solution and Refill, Hardwood Floor Polish, Microfiber Cleaning Pads, and Microfiber Dusting Pad
  • Durable 4 piece mop handle with extra-large mop head
  • Two Bona Microfiber Cleaning Pads - designed for effective cleaning with dual zone cleaning action
  • Bona Microfiber Dusting Pad with electrostatic design traps dust, dirt and pet hair
  • Full size Bona Hardwood Floor Original Formula Cleaner trigger bottle
  • Full size Bona Hardwood Floor Polish squirt bottle

Bona Mega Wood Floor Finish is a popular option among homeowners and professionals. This oil-based polyurethane provides a long-lasting and durable finish for hardwood floors. It dries quickly, allowing multiple coats to be applied in one day, and it also dries to a clear, natural look that enhances the beauty of the wood.

One of the key features of Bona Mega is its ability to resist scratches and scuffs, making it an ideal choice for high-traffic areas. This polyurethane also offers excellent resistance to water and household chemicals, which helps to protect the wood from damage.

Another advantage of Bona Mega is its low VOC (volatile organic compound) formula, which is better for the environment and for indoor air quality. This polyurethane has a low odor and produces minimal fumes during application, making it a more comfortable choice for homeowners and contractors.

Pros:

  • Dries quickly
  • Offers excellent resistance to scratches, scuffs, water, and household chemicals
  • Low VOC formula
  • Low odor and minimal fumes during application

Cons:

  • Higher cost compared to other oil-based polyurethane options
  • Not recommended for use on high gloss hardwood floors

How to Apply Bona Mega

Bona Mega should be applied in thin coats using a high-quality brush or roller. Applying 2-3 coats is recommended, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next. Proper ventilation and protective gear, such as gloves and a mask, should be used during the application process.

2. Duraseal Polyurethane

Dura Seal Quick Coat 2-hour Penetrating Finish - 110 Neutral
  • Penetrating Finish is a semi-transparent stain formulated to seal
  • Dura Seal Wood Stain contains a rich blend of oil and resin
  • Can be used with or without a finish coat
  • Designed to dry in two hours

Duraseal Polyurethane is another popular option for finishing hardwood floors. This oil-based polyurethane provides a durable and long-lasting finish that is resistant to scratches, scuffs, and household chemicals. It is also easy to apply and dries to a clear, natural look that enhances the beauty of the wood.

One of the unique features of Duraseal Polyurethane is its ability to penetrate deep into the wood, creating a stronger bond between the wood and the finish. This helps to protect the wood from damage and provides a more stable base for the finish to adhere to.

Duraseal Polyurethane is also known for its ability to dry quickly, allowing multiple coats to be applied in a single day. This polyurethane also has a low VOC formula, making it better for the environment and indoor air quality.

Pros:

  • Penetrates deep into the wood for a stronger bond
  • Dries quickly
  • Resistant to scratches, scuffs, and household chemicals
  • Low VOC formula

Cons:

  • Can yellow over time, especially in high-UV areas
  • Higher cost compared to other oil-based polyurethane options

How to Apply Duraseal Polyurethane

Duraseal Polyurethane should be applied in thin, even coats using a high-quality brush or roller. Applying 2-3 coats is recommended, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next. Proper ventilation and protective gear, such as gloves and a mask, should be used during the application process.

3. Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane

Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane Protective Wood Finish, Warm Satin, 1 Quart
  • PROTECT WOOD SURFACES – Minwax Polyurethane Wood Finish protects interior projects like woodwork, furniture, floors and cabinets. The oil-based, clear top coat is one of the most durable coatings for wood protection against scratches, spills and more.
  • OIL-BASED DURABLE FINISH – Clear finish provides long-lasting protection and warm beauty to both finished and unfinished wood projects. Protective coating is ideal for woodwork, furniture, doors, cabinets & floors, and is available in a variety of sheens.
  • SATIN SHEEN – Give your wood projects a sleek finish with this satin clear varnish. It not only protects the natural beauty of the wood, but offers a soft, unique sheen for a modern, cozy and on-trend look.
  • FAST DRYING – Get more done with this protective poly coating. It’s a fast-drying clear coat, which allows for quick recoats after 4-6 hours, letting you get projects done faster. Be sure to apply with a high-quality natural or foam brush.
  • A BRAND YOU CAN TRUST – Minwax is America’s leading brand of wood finishing and wood care projects. Since 1904, we have been inspiring consumers to Keep on Finishing. We offer consumers a complete line of products to meet every wood finishing need.

Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane is a fast-drying, clear oil-based finish that provides long-lasting and durable protection for hardwood floors. This polyurethane dries to a clear, natural look that enhances the beauty of the wood and is resistant to scratches, scuffs, and household chemicals.

One of the key features of Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane is its quick drying time. This allows multiple coats to be applied in a single day, which is ideal for homeowners and contractors who are looking for a fast and efficient solution.

Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane is also available in a low VOC formula, making it better for the environment and indoor air quality. Additionally, this polyurethane is easy to apply and dries to a clear, natural look that enhances the beauty of the wood.

Pros:

  • Fast drying time
  • Resistant to scratches, scuffs, and household chemicals
  • Low VOC formula
  • Easy to apply

Cons:

  • Not as durable as other oil-based polyurethane options
  • Can yellow over time, especially in high-UV areas

4. Varathane Ultimate Wood Stain

Sale
Varathane 262006 Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain, Quart, Dark Walnut
  • Ideal for use on all interior wood projects: furniture, cabinets, doors, trim and paneling
  • One-coat coverage, fast-drying oil based formula
  • Dries to the touch in just 1 hour and covers up to 275 square feet
  • High performance stain system enhanced with nano pigment particles
  • Highlights natural wood grain to reveal wood's beauty

Varathane Ultimate Wood Stain is a popular alternative for those who want a long-lasting, durable finish for their hardwood floors. This oil-based polyurethane provides a beautiful, rich color that will bring out the natural beauty of the wood. It dries quickly, making it ideal for those who want to complete their hardwood flooring project in a timely manner.

Pros:

  • It provides a rich color that enhances the natural beauty of the wood
  • Dries quickly
  • Long-lasting and durable
  • Resistant to water, heat, and household chemicals
  • Easy to apply with a brush, roller, or sprayer

Cons:

  • It may be more difficult to work with than other oil-based polyurethanes, as it has a thicker consistency
  • May yellow over time, affecting the appearance of the hardwood floor
  • Not suitable for all types of wood, as it can cause discoloration on certain species

5. Zar Ultra Max Polyurethane

ZAR 36212 Ultra Max Oil Modified Polyurethane, QT, Satin
  • Superior abrasion resistance
  • Child-safe when dry
  • Complies with all current VOC requirements

Zar Ultra Max Polyurethane is another popular choice for those who want a durable finish for their hardwood floors. This oil-based polyurethane dries to a clear, glossy finish that will add a protective layer to the wood. It’s easy to work with and dries quickly, making it ideal for those who want to promptly complete their hardwood flooring project.

Pros:

  • Dries to a clear, glossy finish that enhances the natural beauty of the wood
  • Resistant to water, heat, and household chemicals
  • Easy to apply with a brush, roller, or sprayer
  • Dries quickly
  • It can be used on a variety of different types of hardwood flooring

Cons:

  • May yellow over time, affecting the appearance of the hardwood floor
  • It can be more expensive than other oil-based polyurethanes
  • It may not provide the same level of protection as other options, making it less durable in the long run.

How to Apply Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane

Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane should be applied in thin, even coats using a high-quality brush or roller. Applying 2-3 coats is recommended, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next. Proper ventilation and protective gear, such as gloves and a mask, should be used during the application process.

Alternatives to Oil-Based Polyurethane for Hardwood Floors

Water-Based Polyurethane

Water-based polyurethane is a popular alternative to oil-based polyurethane for hardwood floors. This type of finish is made from a resin suspended in water, making it a more eco-friendly option. Unlike oil-based polyurethane, which can turn yellow over time and emit strong fumes, water-based polyurethane dries clearly and has little to no odor. It also dries much faster than oil-based polyurethane, making it a good option for those who want to complete a flooring project quickly.

However, water-based polyurethane does not have the same level of durability as oil-based polyurethane. It is susceptible to scratches and can wear down quickly over time. Additionally, water-based polyurethane may not be as effective in protecting hardwood floors from water damage. It is important to consider these factors when deciding on the best finish for your hardwood floors.

Wax

Wax is another alternative to oil-based polyurethane for hardwood floors. Unlike polyurethane, wax does not provide a hard and durable protective coating but rather a softer, more natural finish. Wax is made from a mixture of beeswax, carnauba wax, and natural oils that are melted together and then applied to the floor. This type of finish is often used in older homes and on antique floors to preserve the natural patina of the wood.

Wax is easy to apply and dries quickly, but it does require more maintenance than polyurethane. It must be reapplied every 6-12 months in order to maintain its protective qualities and keep the floor looking its best. Additionally, wax can be slippery, so it is not recommended for high-traffic areas or homes with pets or small children.

Tung Oil

Tung oil is another option for those looking for an alternative to oil-based polyurethane for hardwood floors. This natural oil is made from the seeds of the tung tree and has been used for centuries to protect and preserve the wood. Tung oil penetrates the surface of the wood and hardens to form a protective barrier that is resistant to water and other elements.

Tung oil is a great option for those who want a natural and eco-friendly finish for their hardwood floors. It is easy to apply and dries quickly, but it does require more maintenance than polyurethane. Tung oil must be reapplied every 6-12 months in order to maintain its protective qualities and keep the floor looking its best. Additionally, tung oil is not as durable as oil-based polyurethane and may not provide enough protection for high-traffic areas or homes with pets or small children.

How to Choose the Right Oil-based Polyurethane for Your Hardwood Floors

Consider the Type of Wood

When choosing the best oil-based polyurethane for your hardwood floors, one of the first things to consider is the type of wood. Different types of wood have different porousness and hardness, affecting polyurethane absorption and durability. For example, a softwood like pine will absorb polyurethane differently than a hardwood like oak. To get the best results, choosing a polyurethane specifically formulated for your type of wood is important.

Determine the Foot Traffic

Another factor to consider when choosing an oil-based polyurethane for your hardwood floors is the level of foot traffic. If you have high-traffic areas, such as a living room or hallway, choosing a durable polyurethane that can stand up to wear and tear is important. On the other hand, if you have low-traffic areas, such as a guest bedroom, you may be able to get away with less durable polyurethane.

Decide on the Sheen Level

Another important factor to consider when choosing an oil-based polyurethane for your hardwood floors is the sheen level. Polyurethanes are available in a range of sheen levels, from high gloss to matte. High gloss polyurethanes are often used in high-end homes and add a glossy, modern look to your floors. However, they are also more susceptible to showing scratches and scuffs. On the other hand, matte polyurethanes have a more traditional look and are less likely to show scratches and scuffs.

Evaluate the Drying Time

Finally, when choosing an oil-based polyurethane for your hardwood floors, it is important to consider the drying time. Some polyurethanes dry faster than others, which can affect the overall timeline of your project. If you are in a hurry, it may be worth choosing a fast-drying polyurethane. However, if you are willing to wait for a slower-drying polyurethane, you may have a higher-quality finish.

Conclusion

When choosing the best oil-based polyurethane for your hardwood floors, it is important to consider the wood type, foot traffic, sheen level, and drying time. By considering these factors, you can ensure that you choose a polyurethane that is perfect for your needs and will provide you with beautiful, durable floors for years to come.

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