Hardwood Floor Finish – Oil Based vs. Water Based, Which is Best?

May 6, 2013

After a hardwood floor has been professionally sanded and all those scratches and nicks have been smoothed away the refinishing process begins. Whether or not the floor is stained at this stage or not is a purely personal decision on the part of the homeowner. Applying several coats of finish is essential either way though. But which is the better choice- an oil based product or a water based one?

Oil based finishes have been around for a long time now but older does not always mean better. Although they do an adequate job there are some problems with oil based finishes that have meant most professionals – those at Aladdin carpets and Floors included – tend to prefer to use water based finishes when refinishing a hardwood floor these days.

One of the biggest problems with oil based finishes is the amount of fumes they give off. This is more of a problem than just the fact that the smell will give you a headache for days. These vapors – VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) have been found to be harmful to both the health of humans and the environment in general. Water based finishes are not vaporless, but they give off far fewer fumes, making them the safer, more ecofriendly choice.

The second concern is a purely aesthetic one. Oil based finishes tend to “amber over time (basically they turn yellow) Over the years we have not found the same to be true of water based finishes.

Longevity is another concern. No homeowner should need to have their hardwood floors finished more often than every 7-10 years, but many oil based finishes do not last even half that long. At Aladdin Carpets and Floors we would make a lot more money by going into our clients’ homes to sand and refinish every couple of years but doing so would not do too much for the overall condition of your hardwood floors, which given the proper care and attention should last a lifetime.

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