Hardwood floor finish options


Learn more about hardwood floor finish options

Finishing new hardwood floors and refinishing old hardwood floors can be a daunting process on its own. When faced with the decision to undergo this type of project, one of the most important decisions is the type of finish to use. Here we discuss the 3 most widely used finishes, and the differences between them.

Swedish Floor Finish

Walk away from this old standby! Swedish finish, while extremely durable and strong, has some inherent issues that should make you think twice about allowing it in your home. Swedish hardwood floor finish is usually a 2-part catalyzed, or “acid-cured”, varnish. It is extremely volatile, combustible, and highly toxic. When applying this finish, it is recommended that users wear full-face respirators to avoid breathing or having their mucous membranes exposed to the fumes. Repeated exposure can cause permanent and severe damage to skin, eyes, ears, and respiratory systems, not to mention the cognitive damage that can occur. While manufacturers of Swedish finish have worked hard to lower the VOC (volatile organic compound) content, it is still pretty harsh. Therefore, we at LeBlanc Floors & Interiors DO NOT offer Swedish finish as an option.



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Water-based or “waterborne”, urethane floor finish

Water-based floor finishes have been available since the early 1990s but had a very rough start. The products that first came out were extremely difficult to learn and really didn't offer much durability. Now, water-based urethane floor finish is the most popular option around and has become a leader in durability, flexibility, indoor air quality, and ease of use. There are many brand names out there, but one you may recognize instantly is Bona. Bona Traffic HD has stood out from the pack as the option with the highest solid content of any water-based floor finish. Used in both residential and commercial settings, it is extremely versatile and environmentally friendly. With a VOC level of around 200G/L, this finish is very forgiving during application. It has an odor similar to an interior latex paint and dries extremely fast. Soft foot traffic (socks only!) can be allowed in as little as 4 hours after coating, under the right conditions. We typically recommend at least 12-14 hours because we know that some people will try to push it. This is our most widely applied finish, as it brings the best of all worlds to your new wood floors—beauty, durability, compatibility with almost all wood species, and its low-VOC/ low-toxicity features. Learn more.

Hardwax oil, polyx oil, oil & wax

Hardwax oil finish has been used for treating wood products for centuries. Primarily developed and used in Europe, it offers an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional wood treatments by using natural elements—plant oils and waxes, and often beeswax. Our favorite is Osmo Polyx Oil, the “original” Hardwax oil, but we are well-versed in the use of several similar products such as Rubio Monocoat or Berger Seidle.

Hardwax oils contain natural, rapidly renewable oils sourced from plants. These oils deeply penetrate the wood pores to help retain its elasticity during its natural expansion and contraction. The oils also prevent the wood from drying out or becoming brittle, which lengthens it lifespan. When Hardwax oil is properly applied, moisture will not absorb into the wood—it will bead on the surface and evaporate.

Osmo Polyx Oil is highly versatile and can be used on a variety of wood species and with a variety of wood stains and dyes. Learn more about Osmo products