5 Best Polyurethane for Wood Floors [2022 Reviews]

Wooden floors are beautiful, durable, and long-lasting. It is therefore important to be invested in maintaining the pristine hardwood floors at all times. One such material that helps you achieve this is polyurethane.

It is the polyurethane that gives your hardwood floor its protective coating and hence must be chosen carefully.

Types of Polyurethane Finish

best polyurethane for wood floors

Polyurethane is a protective coating that needs to be consistently applied to a wooden surface or sprayed to ensure it maintains its pristine form for several years. This is not to be confused with varnish as polyurethane is quintessentially plastic and works well on interior applications.

When it comes to your hardwood flooring, there are many types of polyurethane finishes that you can choose from.

These include matte, satin, gloss and semi-gloss. What are the differences between these and what works best when are some of the questions we will guide you through to help you make an informed choice.

  1. Matte: As the name suggests, this type of polyurethane is the least lustrous of all and works best for people who have an aversion to shiny stuff.
  1. Satin: This is one of the most popular finishes that many people go for. The reason is its unique balance. It has the right amount of luster that makes you appreciate your choice but also enough matte components to hide away ugly scratches and wear and tear.
  1. Semi-Gloss: This is slightly shinier than the satin flooring and brilliant at bringing out the beauty of wood. You would, however, need to invest in maintenance as this is more prone to wear and tear than its matte counterparts.
  1. High-Gloss: This works best for those floors that have an element of exotic to them and experience lesser footfall. This is super lustrous and very high maintenance which makes it an expensive investment. It is best suited for customers who love all things flashy.

While there is no way to tell the superiority of one over the other, you should take into account their individual merits and demerits while making the decision. For instance, a matte finish is going to hide scratches better than the high-gloss finish which reflects more light.

Best Water-Based Polyurethane for Wood Floors

Water-based polyurethane uses water as opposed to solvents as the base for carrying polyurethane solids. These can be great at providing support to the wooden flooring but since these are thin, multiple coatings may be required for the desired result.

We take you through two of the best water-based polyurethane for wooden floors that you can give a try on your wooden surface in your next renovation regimen.

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Bona Mega Wood Floor Finish

Our Top Pick
Bona Mega Wood Floor Finish
9.7/10 Our Score

This is one of the best water-based polyurethane you can find for your floor. The brand and the particular product have made a niche for itself because of its superior quality and ability to make even old floors come to life.

It comes in three finishes i.e. satin, gloss and semi-gloss. It is ideal for customers who are low on cash.

  • Easy application
  • Very little to nil odor that makes it great for people with allergies and breathing issues
  • Durable
  • Dries fast and leads to a great finish and texture
  • Non-slippery, therefore, kid and elderly friendly
  • Requires multiple coatings to get a great result
  • Has a weather constraint and works best on humid days

Varathane 230131 Crystal Clear Floor Finish

Runner Up
Varathane 230131 Crystal Clear Floor Finish
9.3/10 Our Score

This is a great water-based polyurethane for your hardwood floor and you can expect great results. The coating is of high quality and also easy on the pocket. It comes in three finishes i.e. satin, gloss and semi-gloss.

  • Easy to apply
  • Durable and robust coating
  • Dries faster than most other protective coatings
  • No odor makes it ideal for people with breathing issues or allergies
  • Resilient and effective in protecting high-traffic areas
  • Once applied, it is not prone to getting yellow
  • Requires multiple coats for best results
  • You may require more product as opposed to some other options available

Best Oil-Based Polyurethane for Wood Floors

Though the more expensive option, oil-based polyurethane coatings justify their price tag and give you floors that last for years looking pristine, robust and beautiful.

Here are two great oil-based polyurethane finishes for your wood floors that have a good following in the market.

RUST-OLEUM 130031 Varathane Oil Base Premium Polyurethane Floor Finish

Our Top Pick
RUST-OLEUM 130031 Varathane Oil Base Premium Polyurethane Floor Finish
9.4/10 Our Score

If you don’t have a specific budget in mind and aren’t constrained by monetary concerns, this is the best product in the market you can get. It has a number of features and superior product quality that justifies the price tag.

Here are its pros and cons for you to make a fair decision.

  • It is meant for heavy and rough using so you would not have to spend a lot on professional help.
  • Very fast drying time that helps you save time.
  • Low odor as opposed to other oil-based products.
  • Brings out the best in your floor because of its thick consistency and even application.
  • It is an expensive product and not ideal for those who have a smaller budget.
  • It comes with no warranty and that can be a bummer for several people who can’t finish all of it in one go.

Minwax 130250000 Super Fast-Drying Polyurethane For Floors

Runner Up
Minwax 130250000 Super Fast-Drying Polyurethane For Floors
9.1/10 Our Score

A little on the expensive side, this product is particularly made for floors so can ensure good quality job akin to that of a specialist. Before you make up your mind, consider the product’s pros and cons.

  • Does not require sanding between coats
  • Gives a great finish making your floor look new again
  • Very durable and long-lasting
  • Ensures even application
  • Faster drying times hence, time-saving
  • The product has reported a high defect rate.
  • It can get hardened inside the can and customers have reported the same.
  • There are some bubbling issues with the product as per some customer reviews.

Water-Based vs Oil-Based Polyurethane

Now that you have seen some great products in both categories, you must be thinking about which product type should you go with. Is oil-based polyurethane better or water-based? Here is some information to help you decide better.

Pros and Cons of Water-Based Polyurethane

Pros of Water-Based Polyurethane
  • Gives a great finish sans any odor.
  • If you prefer your floor to have a natural look, water-based polyurethane might be your best bet. Don’t get tricked by their milky appearance because they change into a clear coating after application.
  • They dry fast saving you time.
Cons of Water-Based Polyurethane
  • More expensive than their oil counterparts.
  • They are inferior to oil-based products in terms of the final glow.
  • They also need faster reapplications and retouching once every two years at least.

Pros and Cons of Oil-Based Polyurethane

Pros of Oil-Based Polyurethane
  • Leaves an unparalleled glow on the surface making it look nicer and classier.
  • Easy on the pocket.
  • More protective and requires less maintenance.
Cons of Oil-Based Polyurethane
  • The wait time between two applications is greater that means you will have to put aside a long time for this work.
  • Heavy odors as compared to their water-based counterparts.

When to Use Water-Based Polyurethane?

If you are after thinner, more flexible coatings, this is the choice you should make. They don’t emit odors so if you are allergic to that, this is the choice you have. Once you are done with this type of coating, it is easier to clean and maintain.

When to Use Oil-Based Polyurethane?

If you don’t want to invest in regular maintenance and reapplication every two years, you must certainly go for this type of coating. This works best for homes that are greatly insulated and more prone to wear and tear.

This product works best for those with a lot of patience and time on their hand. You may have to vacate the home completely for the work to take place which is not the case with water-based polyurethane.

If you have an even surface, you can expect the best results. If it isn’t even, there may be certain inconsistencies.

Minwax 710330000 Water Based Oil-Modified Polyurethane

Our Top Pick
Minwax 710330000 Water Based Oil-Modified Polyurethane
9.6/10 Our Score

There is a new type of hybrid product that is fast becoming the go-to choice for many people with hardwood floorings. It is an amalgamation of both water and oil and comes with great features. It has a combination of features drawing from the best of each type of polyurethane.

It comes in a satin finish that makes the end result very beautiful.

  • Dries faster than most types of polyurethanes.
  • It is multifunctional and can be used for furniture as well as floors.
  • Extremely easy to clean with warm water.
  • It is water-based so it keeps the odors to a minimum.
  • Can only be used with adequate ventilation.
  • It has some harmful constituents.

We hope the above guide has given you a fairly good idea of the various types of polyurethane and the best way to use each and every type. The next time you are looking for the best polyurethane for wood floors, do not forget to consult this guide to make your work easier.