So you are planning to purchase new hardwood floors for your home, here is what you need to know. Hardwood floors are made from timber wood for aesthetic or structural, and they are a common choice for flooring. Hardwood comes in various styles, cuts, color and species.
Once you have selected the type of hardwood, which includes, cherry, oak or walnut, you must decide on a type of finish or topcoat. The finish is the coating that is applied to floors to enhance and protect them from normal wear and tear, water damage, scratches and scuffs.
About Hardwood Finishes
Hardwood finishes come in a variety of looks such as high gloss, semi-gloss, satin and matte.
High Gloss: If you are looking for a unique or exotic floor with low traffic, high-gloss would be a great choice.
Semi Gloss: You can get the best of both world with this luster. Semi-gloss is not too shiny, and it is not dull. Its shine highlights the beauty of the wood.
Satin: This look is very popular with customers because it is not too shiny, and the wood grain does not show when exposed to wear, scratches or scuffs.
Matte: If you are like some customer who prefers little shine or luster, matte is the look for you.
Types of Hardwood Finishes
Hardwood finishes have been around since the early 1900s. They have made progress in their environmental-friendly effects, which means they release few Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). There are four types of hardwood finishes:
The best polyurethane finish, which has been around for more than 70 years, can handle scratches, scuffs and foot traffic. It provides a light finish and the more traditional feel and look. This type of finish can be water-based or oil-based polyurethane.
Water-based polyurethane : Water does not provide the sheen that oil does; however, it is environmentally friendly and does not release VOCs like its counterparts. Water-based finishes when applied can look milky, but it dries clear and resist the yellowish look over time.
Oil-based polyurethane: Oil adds resistance and long-lasting, sustainable features to wood, however, some oil-based finishes can be an issue for customers who may have concerns about the vapors they release to the environment.
Let’s take a look at some other types of finish to help you choose the best polyurethane finishes.
Other Types of Finishes
Wax: This type of finish offers a soft look, dries quickly usually within hours, the application is easy, and the sheen is low. Wax provides great protection, and little or no VOC odor and its popularity has increased in recent years. It is ideal if you want the ease of touch up and low luster sheen.
However, wax requires intense labor. Several coats must be applied, and the buffing must be done by hand. Liquid wax is applied with an applicator, and the paste is applied by hand. Wax is made with alcohol; thus, it is flammable.
Shellac: This finish is all-natural and long-lasting. For hundreds of years, Shellac has been used to seal and finish floors globally. Because it is all-natural it does not give off VOCs, touch up is a breeze, adheres to tropical wood and it dries quickly.
However, Shellac is not durable; it stains easily and does not hold up well to foot traffic, like other options. It is made with alcohol thus less durable and flammable.
Aluminium oxide: This finish offers a great deal of protection from your normal wear and tear; it is great for areas where there is high traffic. It also offers protection from fading and water damage. Aluminium oxide is available in many levels from shiny to matte. However, aluminium oxide finish is difficult to touch up or to refinish.