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Water-Based vs. Oil-Based Polyurethane Floor Finish: What’s The Difference?

Water-Based vs. Oil-Based Polyurethane Floor Finish What's The DifferenceHave a conversation with a home developer and ask the best flooring option; 9 out of 10 times the answer is always wooden flooring. Wooden floors are appreciated for their plethora of advantages ranging from provision of warmth during colder seasons, adding character as well as style to any house new or old, In addition to their durability it easy to see why they are the best option.

Wooden floors last a lifetime when regularly maintained, a factor that leads to the question of polyurethane. Polyurethanes are like a coat of armor for the hardwood floor.

There are two types of polyurethane, oil and water based. The most commonly asked question we get from our clients is, “What is the difference between water based and oil based poly? Well, there are a number of differences as presented below.

  • Drying Times

Oil based polyurethane take a longer time to cure as well as dry compared to water based poly. It should be taken to note that oil-based polys are thicker and contain more solids that water-based polys. Subsequently, it comes as a recommendation to apply oil-based polys once or in some instances twice a day. On the other, hand three coasts of water-based polys can be applied in 24 hours.

Additionally, oil based polys should be left undisturbed for at least 24 hours. On the other hand, you are allowed to walk on water based poly cured floors at least 6 hours after the last coat was applied.

  • Smell

Oil based poly emit a significantly pungent odor and noxious fumes while drying or curing compared to water based poly. Any flooring task that is done using oil-based poly should be performed using protective clothing (or your garments will reek much longer after application) as well as a respirator. Pets are most at risk of being affected by the fumes and should be kept away from oil based poly flooring for at least 48 hours. The best recommendation to our clients is that this is a job for the experts considering the health risk involved. On the other hand, water-based polyurethane application does not need the use of a respirator; subsequently, it does not cause much health risks to people or pets even during application.

  • Durability.

Oil based poly is thicker making them softer when they cure compared to water-based poly which is thinner but hardens when they dry. Oil poly is more susceptive to denting, on the other hand, water-based poly is prone to surface scratching/abrasion caused by fine debris. We recommend our clients with water based poly flooring to vacuum as frequently as possible. For clients oil based we recommend the use of pads at the base of their furniture consequently, this prevents denting.

  • Cost.

Oil based poly is less costly compared to water based poly. On average, a 5-gallon bucket of water poly will cost up to $350.00 while the same amount of oil based will cost $150.00. Well, known brands like Minwax exist in both oil and water based packages thus it clearer when comparing prices.

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Connecticut Flooring LLC

Burlington, CT 06062
(860) 818-7553


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