How to Choose the Perfect Polyurethane for Hardwood Floors

Hardwood flooring is a classic and timeless addition to any home. It adds beauty, warmth and value to your property. But, in order to keep your hardwood flooring looking its best for years to come, you need to choose the perfect polyurethane to protect it. Choosing the right polyurethane for your hardwood flooring can be a daunting task, but it is important to know what you’re looking for to make the right choice. This article will guide you through everything you need to know about polyurethane for hardwood floors.

When you need a durable, high-shine finish, then oil-based polyurethane is the way to go. If you’re looking for something that’s easier to apply and clean up, then water-based polyurethane is a better option.

What you Need To Know About Polyurethane

Polyurethane is a type of finish that is applied to hardwood flooring to protect it from damage and to enhance its beauty. It is a type of plastic coating that dries to a hard and durable finish. There are two types of polyurethane available on the market: oil-based polyurethane and water-based polyurethane.

What you Need To Know About Hardwood Floors?

Hardwood floors are beautiful and durable flooring options, but they need to be properly cared for in order to maintain their beauty. Hardwood floors are susceptible to scratches, dings, and moisture damage, which is why it is important to choose the right polyurethane to protect them. Hardwood floors can be stained or finished with a clear coat to enhance their natural beauty.

What Kind of Polyurethane is Best for Hardwood Floors?

When choosing a polyurethane for your hardwood flooring, there are several factors to consider. Both oil-based polyurethane and water-based polyurethane have their pros and cons, and the best choice will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

In general, oil-based polyurethane is known for its durability and longevity, while water-based polyurethane is known for its quick drying time and low odor.

What You May Like About Oil-based Polyurethane

  • Long-lasting protection: Oil-based polyurethane is a durable and long-lasting option for protecting your hardwood flooring.
  • Enhanced natural beauty: Oil-based polyurethane is known for enhancing the natural beauty of hardwood flooring by bringing out its natural grain patterns.
  • Easy to touch up: Oil-based polyurethane is easy to touch up if needed, making it a great choice for high-traffic areas.
  • It enhances the wood’s grain and color.

What You May Not Like About Oil-based Polyurethane

  • Strong odor: Oil-based polyurethane has a strong odor that can be difficult to tolerate for some people.
  • Slow drying time: Oil-based polyurethane takes longer to dry than water-based polyurethane, which can be inconvenient for some people.
  • Yellowing over time: Over time, oil-based polyurethane can yellow, which can affect the appearance of your hardwood flooring.

What You May Like About Water based Polyurethane

  • Quick drying time: Water-based polyurethane dries quickly, which can be convenient for people who want to use their hardwood flooring as soon as possible.
  • Low odor: Water-based polyurethane has a low odor, making it a better choice for people who are sensitive to strong odors.
  • Low VOCs: Water-based polyurethane has low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can be better for the hardwood.

What You May Not Like About Water based Polyurethane

  1. It can be difficult to apply evenly. This often results in an uneven finish with streaks or brush marks.
  2. It can be challenging to get a consistent sheen level when using water based polyurethane.

How do you Apply Oil based Polyurethane to Floors?

 Polyurethane For Hardwood Floors

Step 1: Make sure your floors are clean and free of dust, dirt, and debris. Otherwise, your finish won’t adhere properly.

Step 2: Decide whether you want to use a brush or a roller to apply your polyurethane. If you’re using a brush, choose one with natural bristles (synthetic bristles can shed and leave behind streaks). And if you’re using a roller, make sure it’s designed for use with oil-based products.

Step 3: Once you’ve chosen your applicator, pour some polyurethane into a tray and get to work. Start in the farthest corner of the room and work your way towards the door. Apply a thin, even layer of polyurethane, making sure not to miss any spots.

  • When you accidentally get any on your skin, wash it off with soap and water immediately. And if you get any on your clothes, make sure to change out of them before they dry.

Step 4: Once you’ve finished applying the polyurethane, let it dry for at least 24 hours before walking on it.

How Long Does it Take for Oil-based Polyurethane to Dry on Hardwood Floors?

Most oil-based polyurethanes take at least eight hours to dry, and more often 24 hours. You can usually apply a second coat after about four hours. You should not walk on your newly coated floor for at least 12 hours, and better yet, 24 hours.

How Long Does it Take for Water based Polyurethane to Dry on Hardwood Floors?

Water based polyurethane typically dries within two to four hours on hardwood floors. However, it is important to allow the floor to cure for 24 hours before walking on it or placing furniture back in the room.

What is the Best Wood Flooring Finish to Achieve?

There are a few different types of finishes that can be applied to hardwood floors, but polyurethane is by far the most popular. Polyurethane provides a durable finish that resists scratches and scuffs, making it ideal for high-traffic areas.

How Many Coats of Polyurethane should you Apply to a Hardwood Floor?

The number of coats you’ll need to achieve the desired level of protection will vary depending on the type of polyurethane you choose, the amount of traffic your floors will see, and your personal preference.

How to Decide how Many Coats of Polyurethane to Apply to your hardwood floors:

  • In case you’re using an oil-based polyurethane, apply at least three coats. Oil-based polyurethanes have a tendency to yellow over time, so if you’re looking for a finish that will stay clear, opt for a water-based polyurethane instead.
  • When you’re using a water-based polyurethane,two coats should be sufficient. Water-based polyurethanes dry clear and have very little odor, making them a good choice for homes with children and pets.
  • When you’re looking for the highest level of protection, choose a polyurethane that contains aluminum oxide. Aluminum oxide is a wear-resistant additive that will extend the life of your floors.

Should I Sand Between the Coats of Polyurethane on Hardwood Floors

It depends on the type of finish you are going for. If you want a high-gloss finish, then you will need to sand between coats. However, if you are aiming for a more natural look, then you can skip the sanding.

How Long Should I Avoid Walking on Hardwood Floors After they’re Completed?

You should avoid walking on your hardwood floors for at least 24 hours after they’re completed. This gives the polyurethane time to cure and harden properly. After that, you can start walking on your floors as normal.

Just be sure to avoid wearing high heels or other shoes that could potentially damage the finish.

Do I Need to Wear a Mask When Applying Polyurethane?

Yes, you should definitely wear a mask when applying polyurethane. The fumes from the polyurethane can be very strong and potentially harmful if inhaled. A respirator or other type of breathing protection is also recommended.

How do I Apply Polyurethane to Hardwood Floors?

Applying polyurethane to hardwood floors is relatively easy; First, you’ll need to sand the floors to create a smooth surface. Then, you’ll need to apply a base coat of polyurethane. Once that’s dry, you can apply the final coat of polyurethane.

What is the Difference Between a Matte, Semi-gloss, and High-gloss finish?

When choosing the perfect polyurethane for hardwood floors, it is important to consider the finish you want to achieve. There are three main types of finishes: matte, semi-gloss, and high-gloss. Each finish has its own unique look and benefits.

1. Matte finishes are a popular choice for homeowners who want a natural and understated look for their hardwood floors. A matte finish will give your hardwood floors a smooth and even surface, with minimal shine. This finish is ideal for high-traffic areas as it is less likely to show scratches or scuffs. However, it is important to note that a matte finish will not be as durable as a semi-gloss or high-gloss finish.

2. Semi-gloss finishes are a great choice for those who want a balance of shine and protection. This type of finish will give your hardwood floors a subtle shine, while still providing enough durability to protect against scratches and scuffs. Semi-gloss finishes are ideal for high-traffic areas, as they are easy to clean and maintain.

3. High-gloss finishes are the most shiny and durable of the three options. High-gloss finishes will give your hardwood floors a deep and reflective shine, which will help to brighten up any room. This type of finish is ideal for those who want their hardwood floors to look their best and stand up to everyday wear and tear. High-gloss finishes are the most durable of the three, but they can also be more prone to showing scratches and scuffs.

How Often Should I Reapply Polyurethane on a Hardwood Floor?

It is important to reapply polyurethane every few years in order to keep your floors looking their best. The frequency with which you reapply will depend on the amount of traffic your floors receive.

When you have a high traffic area, you will need to reapply more often than if you have a low traffic area. You should also take into account the type of polyurethane you are using. Water-based polyurethanes will need to be reapplied more often than oil-based polyurethanes.

When reapplying polyurethane, you will need to sand your floors before reapplying the polyurethane. This will help the new layer of polyurethane to adhere to the floor better.

What are the Symptoms of Polyurethane Poisoning on a Hardwood Floor?

Polyurethane poisoning can occur if you inhale the fumes from polyurethane. Symptoms of polyurethane poisoning include: headaches, dizziness, nausea, and difficulty breathing.

When you think you have been poisoned by polyurethane, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Polyurethane poisoning can be very dangerous and can even be fatal.

RELATED:Best Oil-Based Polyurethane For Hardwood Floors

How to Avoid Polyurethane Poisoning?

Few Things you Can do to Avoid Polyurethane Poisoning:

  1. Make sure there is plenty of ventilation when using polyurethane. Open windows and doors to create a cross breeze.
  2. Wear a respirator or mask when using polyurethane.
  3. Avoid using polyurethane in enclosed spaces.
  4. Do not use polyurethane near open flames.


Polyurethane is a popular choice for hardwood floors because it is durable and easy to clean.When choosing a polyurethane, you should consider the level of shine you want, as well as the amount of traffic your floors will receive. You should also reapply polyurethane every few years to keep your floors looking their best.