The type of finish you choose for your wood flooring can be an important factor in the overall look and feel of the product, as well as the durability, environmental impact and ability to repair it. The three main categories of finishes are water- and oil-based polyurethanes and natural oils.
Appearance of Flooring
Water- and oil-based polyurethane finishes both provide a protective layer that creates a sheen on the real wood flooring, with oil-based products giving an amber tint and water-based ones having a clear finish. Natural oils will penetrate deep down rather than sitting on top, which maintains the natural texture and grain of the flooring.
Applying Finishing Products
If you’re using oil-based polyurethane on your flooring, this can need up to 20 hours between coats to dry, and it’s best to apply two to three coats. Water-based products, on the other hand, dry very fast, and you can apply another coat after just two hours. Natural oils are absorbed as soon as they’re applied, and any mistakes can easily be touched up.
Hardwood flooring is a popular choice amongst homeowners, largely due to its durability, and globally the market is growing faster than engineered wood.
However, if you are interested in engineered flooring you might look at http://www.woodfloorwarehouse.co.uk/engineered-flooring.html.
Before you start it’s important to consider the degree of durability you require.
Water- and oil-based polyurethanes are excellent at protecting the surface of the flooring from damage, but as the layer becomes less effective they will start to show up wear and tear. As natural oil finishes do not leave a glossy layer, these will show virtually no marks, but the wood is less protected from impact.
The best choice for repairing and renewing a hardwood floor is to re-coat the surface, which gives a better result when using natural oils, but it can also be achieved with polyurethane finishes. Floors that have been coated with a polyurethane product can be completely refinished if necessary.
The main concerns with real wood floor finishes are related to the VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) that they release. With a polyurethane finish, VOCs are emitted throughout application and afterwards, and oil-based products emit more. Natural oil finishes are a better environmental option, as they release virtually no VOCs and some products are completely VOC-free.