Best Polyurethane For Floors


Are you on the hunt for the perfect finish for your hardwood floors? The world of floor finishes can be complex, with so many options to choose from. You’ve likely heard about polyurethane, a popular choice known for its durability and shine. But with both water-based and oil-based varieties at your fingertips, and a plethora of brands vying for attention, how do you sift through the noise to find the best polyurethane for your floors? Well, you’re in luck. We’ve done the legwork to bring you the top polyurethane finishes that will bring out the best in your floors.

Our Top Picks

Our #1 Top Pick: Bona Mega Wood Floor Finish

Bona Mega Wood Floor Finish is a waterborne formula that enjoys rave reviews from both professionals and do-it-yourself enthusiasts alike. This product boasts a crystal-clear finish that does not amber over time, preserving the natural beauty of your wood floors. Bona Mega is ideal for residential and commercial applications, offering exceptional durability and resistance to wear. A single gallon covers approximately 600 square feet, and it’s a self-crosslinking formula, which means you’re getting the benefits of a two-component product in a single can. This polyurethane is VOC compliant and has a low odor, which is another reason for its popularity among those looking for a user-friendly and environmentally conscious option.

Pick #2: Minwax Ultimate Floor Finish

Minwax is a titan in the world of wood finishes, and their Ultimate Floor Finish is no exception. This water-based product is designed for use on interior wood surfaces, including floors. Its self-crosslinking technology provides a tough, abrasion-resistant finish, making it suitable for high-traffic areas. It dries quickly, allowing for recoats in just two hours, and there is minimal odor during application. With superior flow and leveling properties, it leaves a smooth finish that professional and amateur woodworkers trust. Moreover, it’s available in a semi-gloss, which will suit various aesthetic preferences.

Pick #3: Rust-Oleum Varathane Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane

Rust-Oleum’s Varathane Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane is known for providing a hard finish that resists scratches and stains. The clarity of the finish is exceptional, making it a great choice for those looking to keep the natural look of the wood. Despite being durable, it’s also easy to clean and maintain. It’s a fast-drying formula—usable over any wood floor—and adds beauty with a clear, glossy sheen that doesn’t yellow with time. Thanks to its low-VOC content and lack of noxious fumes, it’s safe to use indoors, making it a safe choice for homes.

Pick #4: ZAR Ultra Polyurethane Clear Interior Wood Floor Finish

ZAR Ultra Polyurethane is an oil-based option that offers a rich, warm finish that oil-based products are known for. Its robust formulation is great for floors subjected to heavy foot traffic and works well over stained or bare wood surfaces. It’s self-leveling, which takes some of the work out of achieving a professional-looking finish. The drying time is longer compared to water-based options, but many users find the end result worth the wait. For those who appreciate a classic finish and don’t mind a bit more effort during application, ZAR’s product is a sound choice.

Pick #5: Duraseal Waterbased Polyurethane Floor Finish

Duraseal is a brand with deep roots in the flooring industry, and their Waterbased Polyurethane Floor Finish continues their tradition of excellence. Designed to offer the tough protection of a water-based finish without compromising on the look of the wood, it’s an excellent product for both residential and commercial floors. It applies smoothly and dries crystal clear, retaining the wood’s natural look without yellowing over time. This polyurethane is formulated for easy application and quick drying times and is available in different sheens to suit various design preferences.

What to Know Before You Buy

  • Type of Polyurethane: Water-based and oil-based polyurethanes have different properties. Water-based dries faster, has less odor, and maintains the color of the wood, while oil-based has a longer drying time, a stronger odor, but gives a richer finish.
  • Finish Sheen: Polyurethane finishes come in a variety of sheens, such as matte, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss. The choice depends on the desired look and the amount of traffic the floor will endure.
  • Application Method: Some polyurethanes are best applied with a brush, while others require a lambswool applicator or a synthetic pad. Consider how comfortable you are with each method.
  • Environmentally Friendliness: If you have children or pets, or are sensitive to chemicals, look for products with low VOCs and minimal odors.
  • Area of Coverage: Calculate the square footage of your space so you can purchase the right amount of polyurethane for your floors.

Factors to Consider Before Buying

  • Durability: Check how resistant the polyurethane is to scratches, dents, and general wear and tear.
  • Cure Time: Be aware of how long it takes for the polyurethane to fully cure. This can impact how long before you can use the room again.
  • Compatibility: Ensure the polyurethane is appropriate for your type of wood floor. Some finishes work better on certain woods than others.
  • Maintenance: Different finishes may need different maintenance routines. Consider how much time and effort you’re willing to invest in upkeep.
  • Climate Considerations: Temperature and humidity can affect the application and drying time of polyurethane. Check if the product is suitable for your local climate.

Why Trust ChooseRight?

At ChooseRight, we pushed through the crowded market of floor finishes to compile a thorough and reliable list of the best available polyurethanes. By reviewing products, reading thousands of consumer reviews, and gathering feedback from professionals in the field, we’ve created a selection that reflects the highest standards of performance and quality. Whether you are a DIY enthusiast or a seasoned pro, you can count on our recommendations to guide you toward the ideal finish for your floors.

Finishing Thoughts

Choosing the right polyurethane for your floors is a pivotal step in ensuring their longevity and beauty. The products we’ve showcased offer a blend of durability, aesthetics, and ease of use that cater to a range of preferences and requirements. Whether you opt for the convenience of a water-based finish like Bona Mega Wood Floor Finish or the traditional charm of an oil-based product like ZAR Ultra Polyurethane, the key is to select a finish that stands up to your lifestyle demands while enhancing the natural grace of your wood floors. With the aforementioned considerations in mind and a lineup of commendable options at your disposal, you’re well-equipped to make a decision that will keep your floors looking immaculate for years to come.

### Frequently Asked Questions

#### What is polyurethane?
Polyurethane is a polymer that is used to create a protective finish or sealant for flooring. It provides a durable, water-resistant layer that can protect floors from damage and wear over time.

#### Why should I use polyurethane on my floors?
Using polyurethane on your floors can help protect them from scratches, spills, and other forms of damage. It also enhances the beauty of the wood by adding a glossy or satin finish and can help preserve the wood’s natural color.

#### Are there different types of polyurethane for floors?
Yes, there are mainly two types of polyurethane: water-based and oil-based. Water-based polyurethane has a lower odor and dries faster, while oil-based polyurethane tends to be more durable and imparts a warmer finish.

#### How many coats of polyurethane should I apply?
Typically, three coats of polyurethane are recommended for the best results. However, this can vary depending on the type of polyurethane used and the condition of your floors.

#### How long does it take for polyurethane to dry?
The drying time depends on whether you’re using water-based or oil-based polyurethane. Water-based products can dry within a few hours, but oil-based products might need up to 24 hours per coat to dry.

#### Can I apply polyurethane over an old finish?
In some cases, yes, but the old finish must be cleaned and sanded properly to ensure good adhesion of the new polyurethane coat. Always check the manufacturer’s guidelines.

#### Is it necessary to sand between coats of polyurethane?
Yes, it’s generally recommended to lightly sand between coats to create a rough surface for better adhesion of the next coat. Be sure to clean up all the dust before applying the next coat.

#### Can I apply polyurethane myself or should I hire a professional?
Applying polyurethane is something many homeowners can do themselves with a bit of research and careful preparation. However, for best results or for large areas, hiring a professional may be advisable.

#### How do I choose the best type of polyurethane for my floors?
The choice between water-based and oil-based polyurethane often comes down to personal preference for drying time, durability, coloration, and odor. Consider also the specifics of your flooring material and the room’s usage.

#### How long before I can use my floors after applying polyurethane?
It’s typically advised to wait at least 24 hours before walking on floors treated with water-based polyurethane and 48 hours for oil-based. Furniture and rugs should be avoided for at least 72 hours, and full cure time can take up to a month.

#### Will the polyurethane finish yellow over time?
Water-based polyurethane tends to stay clear, while oil-based polyurethane can yellow as it ages, which may be desirable for certain wood types where a warmer tone is preferred.

#### Is there a difference in cost between water-based and oil-based polyurethane?
Yes, water-based polyurethane is generally more expensive than oil-based polyurethane. However, its faster drying time and lower odor could offset the cost difference depending on your needs.

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