What are the common types of hardwood floor finishes?

Builders, installers, and do-it-yourselfers should consider the various wood finishes that have already been put in or installed while installing wood floors. Typically, flooring coatings are made of urethane, water, oil, or alcohol. Understanding how moisture interacts with the floor and finish is necessary for installing wood floors with healthy and long-lasting finishes.

Various Wood Finishes

Before the middle of the 1960s, varnish or shellac was probably used to finish wood floors. It’s not too tricky to check. Locate a discreet area of the floor, and use a coin or another sharp object to scrape the surface. If the finish flakes, it is likely varnish or shellac, which are old-fashioned floor treatments. Vinyl-alkyd replaced natural varnish (produced from vegetable oils), which was replaced by urethane. You can search on  Gulvkanonen.dk to get more information.

The Following Types of Wood Floor Finishes Are Currently Offered:

  • Urethane Modified by Oil

The most popular surface finish is typically simple to apply. It has a petroleum foundation and a mixture of artificial resins, plasticizers, and other components that create films, creating a rigid surface that is moisture-resistant. It is a finish made of solvents, and it takes around eight hours to dry. This type of finish has several sheen levels and an ambering effect with age.

  • Moist-Cured Urethane

It is a solvent-based finish that outperforms conventional surface finishes in toughness and moisture resistance. Urethane that has been moisture-cured is often offered in satin or gloss and comes in non-yellowing and ambering varieties. These finishes are best left to the pros because they are very challenging to apply, smell bad, and have both. This finish hardens by absorbing trace amounts of moisture vapor from the atmosphere during the curing process. The relative humidity has a significant impact on the curing process.

  • Urethane Based on Water

an aqueous urethane that forms a rigid, moisture-resistant surface thanks to a mixture of plasticizers, synthetic resins, and other components. These finishes come in various sheen levels and are clear and non-yellowing. They dry in around two to three hours and have less odor than oil-modified finishes. Urethanes made from water are typically more expensive.

  • Varnish-Conversion Sealers (Swedish Finishes)

These are alcohol-based, two-component acid-curing sealants. Conversion varnish sealers are frequently referred to as Swedish finishes because of their origin (country).

 Sealants that penetrate

They are solvent-based, spread on the floor, and let permeate. Use cloths to remove extra sealant, steel wool, or synthetic wool pads to buff it in. This kind of finish, which can be used to seal and stain the wood floor, frequently has a color. Tung or linseed oil is used to make penetrating oil sealers, and additives are added to increase drying and hardness.

Stick Wax

In some ways, the greatest and oldest. Wax is the most affordable, fastest drying, easiest to apply, and repair material. With proper maintenance, wax can last a lifetime. You are waxing over a deep stain seals in the system, allowing you to wear the wood itself rather than the finish.


Natural vegetable oil-based varnish has been replaced with vinyl-alkyd varnishes. Before urethane coatings were developed, this substance was frequently utilized.


Many manufacturers DO NOT advise using this floor finish because of its flammability and incompatibility. Avoiding this finish is advised.

  • Shellac

Natural shellac, which contains wax, is not frequently utilized as a top coating in the wood flooring industry. Wood floor sealers are increasingly being made using dewaxed shellac.

How to Recall?

Any choice for wood flooring coatings incorporates moisture because a liquid is used during installation (except the wax finish). Additionally, every wood cell has a certain amount of MC or water vapor. When installing wood floors with any finish, installers must remember how water, oil, synthetics, and stains interact.

The environment’s temperature and relative humidity (RH) impact how long wood floors last. Wood loses MC when RH is low because it evaporates; wood picks up MC from the environment when RH is high. By leaving the flooring at the installation site to acclimate to the surrounding environment, wood flooring technicians hope to achieve the wood flooring attaining its equilibrium moisture content (EMC) before installation. EMC achieves between the wood’s internal and external MC levels. When installers or contractors neglect to make sure that the wood flooring has reached its EMC before installation and finishing, wood flooring—and, consequently, wood finishing—is more likely to fail. To know more about Gulvkanonen, you should know about the success tips.

Tips for Success

You increase your chances of effectively installing and finishing wood floors if you are aware of the ongoing requirement to measure and balance the MC of your wood flooring. To avoid any MC-related issues, ensure that new flooring has adequate equilibration time and use an accurate wood moisture meter.

Time for drying is essential. Installers of successful wood flooring frequently maintain room temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees with an RH between 30 and 50%. Outside these limits, wood finishes might not be fully dry, which would be problematic when finishing wood floors. Remember that wood stains must be dry before applying wood finishes because this is where most finish failures start. Before applying wood finishes, check the manufacturer’s RH requirements.


Although the conditions may not be optimum for the longevity of the floor, low RH and higher airflow aid in drying finished wood flooring, however, avoid establishing a significant gap between your environment’s installation settings and ambient circumstances over time; otherwise, your floor will suffer.


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