Oil vs. Water Based Polyurethane

Oil vs. Water Based Polyurethane


Our dwelling workplace rework is s-l-o-w-l-y coming alongside and I’m loving my refinished hardwood flooring – they began out all scratched and orangey however now… beautiful!

That is the fourth time that we’ve had hardwood flooring refinished in our home – it will have been a lot simpler and cheaper to have accomplished the entire hardwoods directly however sadly I didn’t have that foresight earlier than we moved in.  The primary hardwoods that we refinished have been in our kitchen the place we used oil based mostly polyurethane, however for all of our refinishing jobs since then we’ve gone with water based mostly.  There are execs and cons to every so I believed I’d share what I’ve realized when making my determination between these two varieties of polyurethane. 

The most important variations to think about are: 

Drying Time

Water-based polyurethane dries a lot sooner than oil-based polyurethane.  With oil-based, you sometimes have to attend till the subsequent day so as to add one other coat of polyurethane, however water-based polyurethane will be recoated in as quickly as 2-3 hours. Since refinishing wood flooring includes a number of coats of polyurethane, because of this the entire time of your refinishing job is longer with the oil-based. Additionally, as soon as the final coat of polyurethane has been positioned on the ground, the time earlier than you may stroll in your flooring and put your furnishings and rugs again is far shorter with water-based polyurethane.  Once we refinished our wooden stairs, I made a decision water-based polyurethane was a should as a result of in any other case we couldn’t get to any of our bedrooms or full baths and would want to sleep someplace else for just a few nights. By utilizing water-based polyurethane, by the tip of the day we have been capable of stroll up our stairs in socks and sleep in our personal beds.

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Oil-based polyurethane is far larger in VOCs so it has a powerful odor and isn’t environmentally pleasant whereas water-based polyurethane is a low VOC product with little to no scent.  The odor and attainable well being results of utilizing a excessive VOC product ought to all the time be thought-about, however particularly for those who’re refinishing hardwood flooring within the winter when you may’t air the home out nicely. Once we refinished our kitchen flooring with oil-based polyurethane, it was the center of winter and our home reeked! We made the error of sleeping in the home the primary evening that the flooring have been polyurethaned and it was horrible – I couldn’t sleep because of the terrible scent and my fear about what my children have been inhaling. 


Flooring which might be completed with oil-based polyurethane are inclined to amber (flip an orangey yellow) over time whereas flooring completed with water-based polyurethane aren’t anticipated to vary coloration with age. Some folks just like the wealthy ambering that happens with oil-based polyurethane and really feel that this kind of polyurethane provides extra richness and depth to the flooring whereas others don’t admire the change in coloration.  


Water-based polyurethane is a costlier product than oil-based polyurethane.  Nevertheless, some firms don’t cost an entire lot extra for water-based polyurethane as a result of there may be much less drying time between coats, permitting them to get your job accomplished sooner and transfer on to the subsequent job.  Once I’ve gotten bids for hardwood refinishing, I discovered that the added value of water-based polyurethane diversified enormously from firm to firm.

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I’ve come throughout all types of various opinions in regards to the sturdiness distinction between oil-based and water-based polyurethane.  Some refinishers really feel that oil-based polyurethane is extra sturdy.  Others really feel that the sturdiness is pretty equal if you’re utilizing a top quality water-based polyurethane.

So that you’ve in all probability guessed my desire by now – I like utilizing water-based polyurethane. For me, the additional value of water-based polyurethane is price it because of the sooner drying time, decrease VOCs, and low odor.  For the kind of flooring that we’ve, I additionally like that the colour doesn’t change over time, as our flooring that have been completed with oil-based polyurethane years earlier than we moved into the home look downright orange. Have you ever tried each varieties of poly and, in that case, which sort would you employ the subsequent time your refinish your flooring?


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