Understanding The Differences Between Water-Based And Oil-Based Floor Finishes

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Understanding The Differences Between Water-Based And Oil-Based Floor Finishes



Understanding The Differences Between Water-Based And Oil-Based Floor Finishes 

In the floor sanding and restoration business, there are two types of finishes commonly used by professionals: oil-based and water-based. In spite of similarity in terms of appearance while in their containers, the two couldn’t possibly be more different. Below is a comprehensive comparison between the two formulations in terms of their properties and implications of their use.


Key Differences


  • Appearance

Water-based finishes are clear once applied onto the surface with a very slight gloss. They allow you to appreciate the colour of the material underneath. This is perfect when you want the floor covered after sanding without losing the unique charm and beauty of the flooring material.


Oil-based finishes on the other hand are very glossy and tend to have a slightly orange-yellow hue. This is the best choice for home owners who want the dramatic flare associated with the shiny final product after floor sanding.


  • Composition

Both floor finishes are formulations containing different compounds including polyurethane and other carbon derivatives. The difference is in the carrier compound used. As the name suggests, water-based finishes contain water whereas soil-based finishes contain oil. It is this tiny variation is what makes all the difference in terms of everything from appearance to effectiveness.


  • Application

Water-based finishes are innately thinner. This makes their application a lot easier and faster. In spite of this convenience, the crew working on your floor will have to work a lot longer. This is because the finishing product requires several coats in order to achieve the desired effect.


  • Waiting time

Water-based finishes used after floor sanding are very light. They therefore dry very quickly. In a well-ventilated room, it should not take more than 3-6 hours for it to dry up ready for moving your furniture back in.

Oil-based finishes on the other hand are thick and heavy. On average, it takes not less than 12 hours for the polish to dry when applied after floor sanding. Even then, you will have to wait a day or two in order to move things back into the room. If this is done prematurely, it may lead to damage in the form of streak marks, depression spots or even full peeling of the finishing product coats.


  • Durability and maintenance

Water-based finishes are very durable. This is because of the presence of the polyurethane compound. However, in order to maintain their effective protection, homeowners need to schedule regular reapplication of additional coats. This is usually done once every one or two years.

The durability seen with oil-based floor sanding finishes on the other hand is as a result of both the polyurethane and the oil-carrier. With this added strength and support, very little is needed to maintain the appearance and protective effect.


Final verdict


When it comes to choosing between these two, it all boils down to your preferences as the homeowner. The aesthetics and final look in particular are the most important to consider. This is because all the other differences like the odour and waiting time are short term. It is what you will be seeing every single day that matters the most. If you want more subtle beauty then the water-based finishes are the best for use after floor sanding. If you are looking for a statement look that screams classy from a kilometre away then the oil-based finishes are the best for you. Either way, you can rest assured that your freshly sanded floor will remain in great shape for a long time to come.

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