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Types of Polyurethane Finishes for Floors

Updated: Jan 24

The choice of flooring material, style, and type plays a vital role in the overall design and functionality of a room. Hardwood floors are an elegant and timeless choice with an endless array of color and finish options. Among the available finishes, including oils and waxes, polyurethane finishes are popular for their durability and versatility.

polyurethane finishes for hardwood floors

What are polyurethane finishes?

Polyurethane is a combination of synthetic resin and plasticizers applied as a liquid substance to the wood surface to form a protective, moisture-resistant top coating, maximizing longevity of the floors. Polyurethane finishes are known for durability against scratches, scruffs, and other abrasions and require less maintenance than oil or soft wax finishes. They are also resistant to chemicals and moisture, making them suitable for various environments and helping to prevent damage from spills and other household accidents.

Polyurethane is available in both oil-based and water-based formulas, both of which offer a variety of sheen levels, ranging from matte to high gloss, allowing for a finish that suits any aesthetic preference. Whether you prefer a subtle, natural look that minimizes the appearance of dirt, dust, and scratches, or a more polished appearance, polyurethane finishes will ensure the look and longevity of your hardwood.

What are the types of polyurethane?

Oil-based polyurethane is often the most durable option because the oil penetrates the wood, strengthening it, while the resin and plastic polymers harden to form the protective barrier atop the wood. The nature of the oils used, often linseed or Tung oil, and the way the oil penetrates the wood, will tint the wood yellow and may turn amber over time with exposure to UV light. These finishes are achieved through multiple coatings and require several days to dry and cure before installation or use.

Water-based Polyurethane offers a similar durability to its oil-based counterpart but provides a clear finish that won’t color over time. The water in the formula means they dry significantly faster—often in a matter of hours—and require no curing time. Additionally, water-based polyurethane releases significantly fewer or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during application, making it a safer and more environmentally friendly option.

Easy Maintenance

The durable protective coating formed by the polyurethane finish means maintenance and care for a hardwood floor is relatively minor. 

  • Spills should be cleaned up as quickly as possible. 

  • Vacuum using the bare floor setting or broom-sweep regularly to remove debris, dust and dirt build-up. 

  • Use a damp (never wet or steam) mop with a touch of gentle soap as needed.

Haute Plank’s Superior Titanium Finish

While polyurethane finishes offer a practical, versatile, and aesthetic option that, with appropriate cleaning and maintenance, will last for decades, HAUTE PLANK hardwood features a strong finish that doesn’t just sit on top of the wood but penetrates and envelopes each fiber to create an extremely durable, extra long wear, and low maintenance flooring product. The HP Titanium Finish consists of 4 coats of UV-cured oil and 2 coats of soft wax to achieve one of the toughest hardwood flooring finishes on the market. 

Reach out to us today to learn more about the lasting durability and unmatched value of our flooring solutions.


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