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Best Polyurethane for Hardwood Floors

Floor or furniture, polyurethane is always there to make it durable and to double its fantastic look. Not that it only increases the beauty but also protects, nourishes, and enhances the quality too. Due to huge varieties – polyurethane, varnish, paint, etc. people often get confused while buying. There’s a variety of oil based and water based features too. Also, heavy traffic, low odor, etc. are to keep in mind. With dogs, other pets, and children, it is common to get scratches and marks on the floor. But considering all the factors, if you choose the right one, there’s almost no place for it here.

Best 5 Polyurethanes for Hardwood Floors in 2021:

It needs a lot of searching to find a perfect product which gives the perfect finish. We’ve listed some of the best finish for hardwood floors with dogs and without heavy traffic. The choice is all yours.

1. Bona Traffic HD Commercial Satin:

Bona’s best-selling and gold-certified by GREENGUARD gives its best results since it’s a two-part mixture. It is scratch-proof, supports the hard coating. While some finishes look and even feel like plastic, this one feels like you have wood underneath your foot. It gives a handsome look of satin glaze after drying, which takes approximately 2-3 hours. Due to lower VOCs, it is the least toxic, and it’s non-flammable too. The application can be tricky since it’s a two-part. It is best to shake the bottle for 30 seconds before adding the universal hardener. Then shake again to mix and let it sit for some minutes and then directly apply to the dry floor using snow plowing or cutting tools. It can cover 350-400 sq.ft per gallon and looks best with two coats. It’s great for topping an existing finish too. Even though certain toys can leave a mark on it, it’s still great for heavy traffic like big dogs, etc. It can be cleaned easily and there is no need for sealer over a stained floor.

Special Features
  • High Durability, less odor
  • Water-based and commercial finish
  • 150 VOCs or lower, low slippage
  • Fast drying

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2. ZAR Oil Based Polyurethane Wood Finish:

Keeping up with its price, the quality is high too. It’s an oil-based polyurethane, so it provides a thick coating on the floor. Since it’s an oil-based polyurethane, it is highly flammable. The pros of this one make it stand out from other oil-based finishes. It’s very thick, but it takes less than 2 hours to dry itself. It protects the floor from marks and scratches and designed for interior floors. The self-leveling formula gives the floor a little too smooth, glazy finish, which sometimes lets things slip or even get injured. It is directly targeted towards hardwood floors, so the durability and the quality have no issues. It doesn’t give wood a dark color as varnish does, so if you’re okay with light coloring, this can be the one. The application is hassle-free, too, so you wouldn’t need to worry about the brush strokes.

Special Features
  • Targeted explicitly towards hardwood floors
  • Speedy drying
  • Makes the surface super smooth
  • Impressive durability, for interior only

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3. Bona Mega Wood Floor Finish Satin:

Bona Mega is excellent for the residential finish as it is much environment friendly and has less odor. It costs much less than others and also covers much space, which is 550 sq.ft per gallon. Because of its waterborne properties, it is straightforward to use. It can be applied with a roller or any cutting tool. It is non-toxic and non-flammable. After quick-drying, it gives a soft satin look, not too glossy, which amplifies the natural beauty of the wood. It is one component finish and waterborne, so it provides a skinny coating of satin glow. Pets, children and heavy traffic are comparatively much comfortable on it as they can’t leave any mark. This works well in 2 layers, and to give it a compact shape, it may need 3 coatings. It is nearly 70% cured after 24 hours and 100% cured by 1 week.

Special Features
  • Low odor and 200 VOCs
  • Water-based, quick-drying
  • Enhances the natural beauty of wood
  • One component satin finish

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4. Dura Seal 1G Satin 310 Polyurethane:

Almost like any other oil-based polyurethane, its consistency is thick, and it gives a smooth topcoat on the hardwood floor. It is lightweight and effortless to move. Not only it provides proper shine but also protects and nourishes the wood making it slightly tainted. While some oil-based polyurethane may take up to 12 hours to dry itself, it only takes 8 hours. Dura Seal Quick Drying, a sealer, helps it with the matter. It protects the floor from warmth or heat damage and offers protection from them. This can cover all the holes and harsh textures and yet delivers anti-rust technology. Users may claim that it’s the best oil-based polyurethane for hardwood floors, but it draws back to some issues like it’s odor, and it cannot be mixed with any other paints. But the application is typical, like any other oil base. It covers almost 500 sq.ft per gallon. It is flammable but non-photochemically reactive. Works as a shield to safeguard the floor, excellent finish.

Special Features
  • Oil-based, dense formula
  • Available in satin, gloss & semi-gloss
  • Keeps the wood nourished
  • Covers holes and uneven edges

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5. RUST-OLEUM FBA 230031 Varathane Gallon Gloss Waterborne Diamond Floor Finish:

As a Varathane floor finish review, this one allows a water-based finish on hardwood floors. Even though it’s comparatively quite thick, but it covers 425 sq.ft per gallon. It dries itself quickly, almost takes 2-3 hours. Just it becomes possible to give multiple coats only in a day. Just like the name says, it provides a beautiful super glossy floor finish, which makes the floor attractive and also protects it from marks and scratches.

Most importantly, it enhances the natural beauty instead of giving it a yellow tint. It has a low odor, which makes it less toxic and more environmentally friendly (great for children and pets). Both the application and cleanup is easy. You just have to prepare the floor before the form – clearing, staining the woods, and equipping all equipment. It is formulated for water clean up. Moreover, it’s scratch-resistant features increases the durability of the floor.

Special Features
  • Has supreme durability
  • Can resists stain and chemicals
  • Low odor, low VOCs
  • Dries fast and gives a glossy finish

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What is the Most Durable Hardwood Floor Finish? Oil-Based or Water-Based Polyurethane?

This is like the most common confusion you’ll face while searching for your preferred one. So, we pointed out some facts to make your way more accessible to your destination.

Oil-based and water-based both are much durable, but it depends on some factors like- application, heavy pets, traffic, etc. although the appearance makes a considerable variation. But between those types of polyurethane, oil-based comparatively lasts longer due to its higher VOCs. Higher VOCs are not beneficial to the atmosphere. Here, due to lower VOCs of water-based ones, it doesn’t last longer than the other one. But again, water-based polyurethane is best in durability for hardwood floors, and oil-based is proper where there’s heavy traffic.

Both of these types have their pros and cons. Both of them give a smooth, attractive looking finish. While big dogs may leave marks on oil-based ones due to the thickness, there is no such problem in water-based. Water-based dries faster than oil ones and also is more environmentally friendly. About the last appearance, if you love maple look, water-based poly is the one, because oil based gives wood slight yellow hues. Water-based needs more coating than the oil-based ones but covers more space. Pricing is a vast difference between them too.

How to Apply a Clear Polyurethane Finish on Hardwood Floors?

The application of polyurethane finish may vary from person to person. But let us inform you of the most accepted method of applying a bright polyurethane for hardwood flooring, which is very easy, even for beginners.

Firstly, you need to clear and get rid of dust from the wooden floors where you are supposed to apply the product. Do proper dusting and make sure no dirt will cause problems later on. Then you have to prepare the sealant. After that, paint the floor with a roller or your preferred tool. This should cover all the small holes and pores of the wood.

After the first coat, you have to wait for several hours before it dries itself. Then you can take sandpaper and scratch the floor to make a flat surface and make sure there is no rough edge. Now, remove all the sand and make sure there’s no dirt. Repeat the same process for the middle coat and get rid of dust. After proper drying, you can finally pour your final layer and let it dry for the smooth finish. Tung oil can be used for plastic-like finishing. Now, give it time to settle properly, and it’s that simple.

Factors Needed to Consider to Find the Best Polyurethane for Hardwood Floors:

To get the desired finish, it is necessary to buy the best one. Hardwood floors finishing needs a lot of money, and we wouldn’t want it to go to waste. So, here are some factors which you need to reanalyze before actually buying it.

Durability: You need to think about the durability and strength of the product. Before purchasing the product, do proper research about its lasting impacts and what causes it to shorten the procedure.

Appearance: This depends totally on your personal choice as water based and oil based polyurethane has a significant difference on this one. Water-based ones don’t darken the wood as petroleum-based products do. Also, consider the topcoats as they’ll help with the smoothness of the final gaze.

Odor: This might work as well as count as toxic. The more the smell, the more it is harmful to the atmosphere. Low VOCs are termed as environmentally beneficial but don’t last as long.

Nature: Water-based polyurethane is non-flammable and gives more of a maple hue with its thin texture. Oil-based being the thickest, is flammable and darkens the color of the wood, becomes yellow later on by nourishing and protecting it. The duration of drying also differs in them. Too smooth might become slippery, which will cause injuries.

Heavy traffic or big dogs: These are generally the reason behind the scratches and marks on the floor. Oil-based polyurethane typically leaves marks. Children also tend to leave scratches and rough edges while playing. So, do proper research about scratch-free, natural application products before purchasing.


1. Can You Change the Color of the Hardwood?

Yes, the color of the wood can be changed from lighter to darker and from darker to lighter. Or you can adopt colors in between. Even if you don’t want color but protection, clear coats are there for the situation.

2. How Long Does It Take to Dry and Settle?

The duration depends on the product that you will be using for your floor. Also, water and oil-based polyurethane differ in drying themselves. Water-based are thinly formulated but need several membranes to coat the area, but most of the high-quality products dry within 3 hours. On the other hand, oil-based polyurethane is dense in the formula, which makes it take almost 8 hours to dry out. It takes nearly 4 days for oil based and 2 days for water based to settle.

3. Is There Any Alternative to Hardwood Floors?

Of course, there is! There are laminate flooring, vinyl, and ceramic tiles, which almost can be considered as a dupe. These almost look like real wood floors. Though they vary in price, they have their pros and cons.

4. What If Your Hardwood Floor is Already Covered with Carpet, Vinyl, Tile, or Laminate?

There’s absolutely no worry about this. While giving your hardwood floor the coating or finishing, these items are to be eliminated to get into the surface of the hardwood floor. Then, the surface should be prepared and repaired for the proper settlement of the coating.

5. What about Pet Stains? Are These Safe for Dogs?

Some of the polyurethane (both water based and oil based) are specially formulated for heavy traffic like big dogs playing etc. After giving coats, it is safer for pets to walk over it at least after two days. Pet stains can be covered with varnish or thick consistency. If it’s severe, there’s no harm changing the hardwood board. This does cost extra money and labor, but that’s worth it.


Considering all the factors, you might get an idea of what you want. Even if it requires an extra amount of money, patience, and labor right now, it will pay off for more years. So gear up, and good luck with your finishing.