Apr 24, 2023 | Hardwood Floor

Hardwood Floor Refinishing – The Difference Between Water-Based and Oil-Based Finishes


When you are planning to refinish your hardwood floors, the finish you choose can make a big difference. It’s important to understand what type of floor finish is best for your home and lifestyle. There are two major categories of wood floor finishes: water-based and oil-based. Both types of finishes protect from scratches and wear but have different characteristics in terms of durability, appearance, weather resistance, staining capability, and drying time. All these factors will influence how long your new floor will last.

In this blog post, we explore the main differences between the two major types of hardwood floor finishes: water-based vs oil-based finishes.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Water-Based Hardwood Finishes

Water-based hardwood finishes have become a popular choice as they offer certain advantages over other finishes such as low odor, quick drying time, and little yellowing effect over time. While there are clear benefits to using a water-based finish, there can also be some drawbacks depending on circumstances. For example, these finishes are less durable than oil-based options and need frequent reapplication to keep the finish looking good. Additionally, because these finishes don’t penetrate the wood as well as their oil counterparts, scratches or scuffs may show through sooner with water-based finishes.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Oil-Based Hardwood Finishes

Oil-based hardwood finishes come with their unique advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, oil-based finishes are less vulnerable to water damage than water-based finishes, and they provide more durability and a deeper, more distinctive appearance.

Unfortunately, with oil-based products the application process can be both time-consuming and labor-intensive, not to mention having a stronger odor. Luckily, however, it requires less frequent application than water-based finishes.

The Price Difference Between Water-Based & Oil-Based Hardwood Finishes

Water-based finishes tend to be less expensive than oil-based products since they tend to last shorter periods than oil-based products. Water-based finishes are also often much easier and faster to apply, which can cut down on labor costs. However, while you may pay extra upfront for an oil-based product, ultimately it can save you time and money by not having to reapply regularly like with a water-based product.

How to Choose Between Water-Based & Oil-Based Hardwood Finishes

When it comes to hardwood flooring, deciding between a water-based and oil-based finish can be difficult. One of the main differences between the two is their longevity; water-based finishes can last up to 6 months before reapplication is necessary, while oil-based finishes can last up to 2 years. Additionally, a water-based finish won’t yellow over time, so if you’re looking to maintain clarity and sustain color vibrancy, that may be the better option. On the other hand, oil-based finishes offer more resistance on scratches and will dry faster than water-based options. Ultimately, the best choice depends on your lifestyle needs and preferences—so be sure to shop around for the finish that meets your needs.

If you need your hardwood floors refinished, then it’s time to call Blackhawk Floors. Our team of dedicated hardwood professionals can help ensure your hardwood gets the care and attention it deserves. Contact us today to book your refinishing and get your floors looking their best. Read this blog post to know when you should opt for hardwood flooring refinishing.


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