Lots of questions arise when deciding what kind of finish to choose for a new hardwood floor or refurbishing an old one. Concerns include durability, environmental safety, curing time, and what finishes are best for old homes with site-finished floors versus newer houses with factory-finished hardwood. Thankfully, the experts at Floor Coverings International of The Woodlands can go over all of this and more during your free design consultation! Read below to learn a little bit more about your many different finishing options for hardwoods.
Prefinished Hardwood Coatings
Some finishing choices — primarily polyurethane coatings — can be used both for hardwood planking installed onsite and the prefinished kind that is stained and coated at factories. Polyurethanes are also popular for refinishing both types of flooring.
However, one of the most common kinds of factory finishes for new prefinished flooring is aluminum oxide — a durable coating that may last up to 25 years. It’s particularly valuable for prefinished planking with super thin hardwood veneers.
While thin veneers decrease the cost of hardwood flooring, they increase the difficulty and cost of refinishing. In addition, due to refinishing wearing down an already thin veneer, some prefinished floors can only be refurbished once. Then it’s time to install a new floor.
Two other coatings used on factory-finished flooring but not for onsite finishing are UV-cured polyurethane and ceramics. The former is cured with ultra-violet lighting rather than heat. The latter contains high-tech ceramics that resist abrasion despite heavy foot traffic.
Factory-Finish and On-site Coatings
The following coatings are the ones most commonly used on both prefinished and on-site finished planking whether a floor is new or being refurbished.
This is probably the top choice among finishes. Nowadays, water-based polyurethane is almost as durable as oil-based varieties. It also cures twice as fast as the oil kind and dries clear versus the slightly amber color of oil-based poly.
Less expensive than the water-based product, oil-based polyurethane is widely used. But due to a higher amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), it has a stronger, longer lasting smell than water-based poly. Nevertheless, it’s extremely tough.
Despite its higher in VOC content than oil-based poly, this is the fastest curing polyurethane finish. However, it requires professional application due, in part, to drying so rapidly. Moisture-cured poly is tougher and lasts longer than the water- and oil-based polys.
Wax and Natural Oil
Polyurethane coatings provide gloss and high-gloss finishes. For a matte finish, wax and natural oils are the materials of choice. These coatings are only used on-site.
Although both require more frequent upkeep than polyurethanes, wax and natural oils (such as linseed) are easier for spot refinishing. Wax finishes — applied by hand — are often the choice for historic homes. Natural oil finishes have long been popular in Europe and are top eco-friendly choices. Schedule your free in-home design consultation with the experts at Floor Coverings International of The Woodlands to learn more!