here the best water based polyurethane for floors

Best Water Based Polyurethane for Floors

Hardwood flooring is one feature that gives your home or office an elegant and prestigious look. Though classy, these type of floors, however, needs to be refurbished every once in a while to maintain that shiny, sparkly appearance.

So, whether it’s coating a brand new floor or refinishing an old one that has worn out, you need the help of a suitable Polyurethane finishing liquid.

Though there are many floor finish in circulation, choosing the best water based polyurethane for floors can be quite challenging. One may wonder, why?

Well, various finishes have a different level of durability, glossiness, and ease of use; because most people are into “DIY”

Best 10 Water Based Polyurethane For Floors

Ready to shop? We’ve gathered the best water-based polyurethanes for floors that will help you to choose the perfect one for your home:

1. Bona Mega Wood Floor Finish

This wood floor finish (satin), is one of the most easy-to-use finishes you’d ever come across. It’s 30% less costly than other options from this brand, making it the ideal choice for those on a low budget.

Its high-performance water-based formula is oxygen crosslinking one-part Polyurethane; thus, you don’t have to worry about mixing. The atmospheric oxygen is used as a cross linker, thereby making it non-toxic and safe to use.

With Bona mega, you have an array of options to choose from, as it comes in satin, gloss, and semi-gloss. Also, the formula has no wasted finish, is almost odorless and has an unlimited pot life; can be kept for a long time.

Because this product has no additive, it enhances the appearance of the wood after application and gives it an extra twinkly effect. Furthermore, the floor dries up quite quickly and can be walked on typically four to five hours after applying.

However, for best results and a perfect appearance, you need to coat the floor two or three times.

Special Features
  • Unlimited pot life
  • Comes in 3 different forms; satin, gloss, and semi-gloss
  • Pocket-friendly
  • Atmospheric oxygen crosslink
  • No mixing

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2. RUST-OLEUM Varathane 200231 Paint

Coming from a brand known for its exceptionally reliable Polyurethane, the Varathane gallon satin is not any different. It’s meant explicitly for interiors and comes in 5 various forms; satin, gloss, semi-gloss, satin finish, and transparent.

The polyurethane formula is easy to clean; just soap and water would leave the floor sparkling like brand new. It is also scratch-resistant, dries up quickly and is incorporated with an advanced stain protection mechanism.

Unlike most water based polyurethane floor finish, rust oleum varathane does not fade to give the floor surface a yellowish hue. Hence, it maintains the natural color of the wood and enhances its appearance even after a long time.

Besides, this formula differs from other product in that you don’t need to coat the surface multiple times before achieving a durable finish; just once or twice would do the trick. Another great feature of this particular product is that it’s eco-friendly and at the low end of the price range.

So, for those looking for quality without burning a hole in their pockets, this is a perfect option.

Special Features
  • Scratch-resistant
  • Comes in 6 different forms
  • Affordable
  • Stain protection mechanism
  • Eco-friendly

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3. Minwax Water based Wipe-On Polyurethane

Sometimes, you might want to touch up worn out areas of your floor to give it a bit of a zingy new look. Or, you’re looking for a finish that would give your new floor a lovely luster hue.

Well, Minwax water based wipe-on is the perfect finish for the job! It merges polyurethane protection with classic elegance. This formula dries out very fast as it is thinner than most water based Polyurethane, and can be applied with a cloth to prevent dripping.

So you don’t have to worry about using a tool or sprayer. If you’re aiming for a product to protect your finished or unfinished wood, this should be the ideal formula to use. It comes in satin and gloss, and clear.

Additionally, this product can also be used on furniture such as table, chairs, and door. The formula can be used for railings, trim, cabinet, and woodwork for a beautiful glossy appearance. It dries up quickly within a few hours, and you can do a regular clean up within 24hours time.

Special Features
  • Easy to use
  • Dries up quickly within few hours
  • Lint-free cloth application
  • Can be used for furniture
  • Available in two forms; satin and gloss

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4. Bona Finish-Mega HD Clear Satin

Just like other Bona product, Bona finish Mega HD satin doesn’t disappoint. This water-based polyurethane finish is made with anti-scratch and chemical resistant components which protect the floor from damages that may occur in the future.

Though this particular product is available in satin only, it gives a beautiful finish that leaves your project the perfection it needs. It doesn’t have a wasted finish and has a fantastic pot life.

This water-based formula is non-flammable and odorless; making it eco-friendly and can be used without causing health problems. Another unique feature of this product is that in contrast to other water-based poly, it has no amber tint. Thus, it doesn’t give your surface a yellow hue or fade after a while.

As many water based polyurethane reviews for this product from different customers have shown, it has excellent clarity and gives your floor an appealing look.

Special Features
  • Excellent clarity after application
  • Dries up easily
  • Chemical and scratch-resistant
  • Doesn’t produce an amber effect after drying
  • Flows and levels excellently during coating

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5. Minwax Water Based Oil-Modified Polyurethane

This crystal clear water based Polyurethane is highly recommended for interior use such as living room and bedroom floor. In addition to protecting the natural appearance of the wood, it also enhances its beauty.

The Polyurethane is made with trace amounts of volatile organic compounds; therefore, it dries up easily, can be cleaned easily with just soap and warm water. People with breathing problems are advised to work with this product in well-ventilated condition for apparent safety reasons.

Furthermore, it is formulated with substances that protect your wood from chemical damage, ultraviolet rays, scratch and is non-flammable. It also protects against losses that may be due to harsh weather and external forces such as scratch.

For best results, apply with standard application tools such as brush, synthetic bristle brush, or lambswool applicator.

Minwax water-based oil-modified polyurethane has three varieties of sheen to choose from; satin, gloss, and semi-gloss. All sheen adds a touch of luxury, elegance, and beauty to your surface, be it floor or furniture.

Special Features
  • Protects wood from scratch and chemical damage
  • Easy to clean; can be cleaned with soap and warm water
  • Eco-friendly
  • Dries up within a few hours
  • A little amount of VOC

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6. Deft Interior Exterior Water-based Polyurethane Finish

Here is a water based polyurethane finish that can serve a dual purpose; it can be used to coat both interior and exterior surfaces. Made with 100 per cent urethane, this deft product is formulated with the latest water based oil technology.

It features superior components that protect the wood from ultraviolet radiation, extreme weather, and scratches. Its quality that is ideal for coating of exterior surfaces such as balcony and passages.

For the first time in polyurethane finish, this formula offers a unique sanding characteristic; no prime or sealer needed in between coats. This does not interfere with the natural color of the wood but also enhances and improves its appearance.

After application, this product settles to give a non-yellowing beautiful crystal clear appearance to your floor, cabinet and other wooden surfaces. Additionally, deft interior, exterior water based Polyurethane meets standard VOC and odor level, thus making it environmentally friendly.

This high-level Polyurethane spreads out easily and evenly after coating; a feature that enhances drying and minimizes odor.

Special Features
  • Can be used for both interior and exterior surfaces
  • Self-sealing characteristics; no primer or sealer needed
  • Low VOC content and odor
  • Crystal clear appearance
  • Protects floor against UV rays

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7. Basic Coatings STREETSHOE® Water based Wood Floor Finish

Looking for a floor finish that cures faster than any other product in the market? Well, this is the best product for you. Because of its remarkable features, basic coating street shoe water based wood finish won the Amazon choice for best street shoe floor finish.

This fast curing formula is ideal for home, sports centers, and commercial finish. It comes of four environmentally friendly sheens; semi-gloss, Satin, clear and gloss.

The formula is by far the toughest anti-chemical, anti-scratch, anti-scuff and anti-ultraviolet radiation finish in circulation as most customers have mentioned in their reviews.

Basic coatings wood Floor Finish can be re-catalyzed (no waste finish), has low volatile organic compounds, and releases a minimal amount of smell/odor. This makes it environmentally friendly for use under different conditions.

Though, it is always advised to apply the finish under well-ventilated conditions. Due to its fast curing nature, this water based Polyurethane can be used for coating overnight, and activities can resume in the morning. Yes, it’s as fast as that!

Special Features
  • Fastest curing wood floor finish in circulation
  • Low traces of VOC and low odor
  • No waste finish
  • Anti-scratch, anti-scuff, and resistant to UV radiation
  • Available in four different sheens

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8. ZAR Aqua Water Based Polyurethane

Recommended for use on interior surfaces alone, aqua water based polyurethane is an excellent choice for exotic wood such as Bolivian rosewood, gaboon ebony, tigerwood and many more.

This product was formulated while following the VOC and environmental management regulations strictly. Unlike most water based polyurethane wood finish, it produces an elegant luster result after application.

It is made with a verified formula that resists household chemicals and protects the floor from scratch, scuff, and abrasion.

This particular product dries up quickly and doesn’t produce a yellow effect when dry or over time. Moreover, it is a self-leveling water based polyurethane that leaves your floor crystal clear and durable after coating.

For light-colored or white wood, this is the ideal finish to use, because it gives your surface or floor a lovely appealing hue.

This product, however, should be applied while using the gas mask as it sometimes emits vapor or fumes that could be harmful. Also, allow to dry thoroughly for at least three hours, and refrain from touching with bare hands before it dries up completely.

Special Features
  • No yellowing effect over time
  • Perfect for use on light color and exotic woods
  • Low odor
  • Environmentally and eco-friendly
  • Resistant to scratch and scuff

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9. General Finishes QTHS High-Performance Water Based Topcoat

Available in satin, gloss, semi-gloss and flat sheen, this finish is presently one of the hardest and most durable in the market. Made with the polyacrylic blend, general finish high-performance water based topcoat is resistant to sunlight and doesn’t fade after application.

It dries up quickly and has an anti-scratch and anti-scuff component incorporated into the formula. This unique finish is perfect for all wood type and is recommended mostly for interior use.

Though resistant to UV light, it is not advisable to apply on exterior surfaces as harsh weather, and other environmental conditions can quickly denature it.

The product is durable and forms a beautiful crystal clear hue after application; giving your floor a beautiful and sparkly appearance. In addition to enhancing the natural beauty of the wood, it also protects it from wearing out easily.

It is always advised to apply this product in cold temperature under well-ventilated conditions for best results and to avoid imperfections.

Special Features
  • Easy to apply
  • Dries up within a few hours after application
  • Doesn’t breakdown in sunlight
  • Has a long shelf life and can be stored for a long time.
  • Most durable finish in circulation

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10. Minwax Polyshades

This is one fantastic product worth reviewing! Minwax poly shade adds wood richness to your surfaces. Whether finished or unfinished, you can’t go wrong with this product. In one simple step, you can protect your wood and enhance its beauty and appearance.

It is a two in one polyurethane formula that stains and protects the floor at the same time. That means it saves you the time, energy and cost of buying and applying two products to your floor; a wood strainer and a wood protector.

Merging wood care with the finish, Minwax poly shade polyurethane prepare, protect, and maintain the appearance of your floor or surface in addition to enhancing its beauty. It gives your wood a beautiful honey/maple coating.

Recommended for use on surfaces like cabinets, floor, furniture, and doors, this formula dries up quickly and is environmentally friendly. It has little smell with a trace amount of VOC, which makes it quite safe.

However, it should be noted that this product is a strainer and shouldn’t be confused with clear finishes.

Special Features
  • Only one step involved in the application
  • Very easy to use
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Contains Low amount of VOC
  • Serves dual purpose

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Factors to Consider while Choosing Water Based Polyurethane for Floors:

While embarking on a quest for the best water-based Polyurethane, certain factors need to be put into consideration. Here, we’ll discuss these factors and help you make the right decision.


Water based Polyurethane comes in different forms; from clear, gloss, Satin to semi-gloss. While choosing the best for hard wood floors, take note of these forms and make sure it corresponds with your wood type.

For instance, when working with exotic woods, the best type of sheen to use is satin. This complements the wood and gives it a fine slippery appearance.


Breathing problems or not, smell/odor is one significant factor to consider. Polyurethane floor finishes that have a strong odor or smell have a higher probability of being toxic, thereby increasing the risk of breathing problems.

Ensure you use products that have been licensed as ‘non-toxic’ and always apply the finish in the presence of proper ventilation.


As we all know, the floor is a high traffic surface, especially for an environment with kids and pets. It wouldn’t be ideal to apply the same floor finish on the house with just two adults as you’d use on a home with five kids and two pets. The level of traffic isn’t the same, hence the scale and depth of cleaning would differ also.

So, endeavor to apply Polyurethane that has easy maintenance and cleaning routine if your floor is prone to frequent spillage and dirt.


How long would a polyurethane last before use and after application? That’s a question you need to bear at the back of your mind.

Advanced formula polyurethane floor finishes not only protect your wood from damages that may be caused by external forces, but they also protect it from damages caused as a result of harsh weather such as ultraviolet rays.

Such products have enhanced substances that improve wood quality, hence making it survive longer and more durable.


Not all expensive products are effective. Sometimes, low budget products like Bona mega water based polyurethane can do wonders where costly formulas couldn’t. Such products can present a highly effective excellent result at a price that would not break the bank.

While buying a polyurethane floor finish, check for quality and cost at the same time. Who knows, you might find a product with excellent features and quality at a reasonable rate!

Benefits of Water Based Polyurethane Over Oil Based Polyurethane

Though oil-based Polyurethane is more comfortable to apply and its application isn’t affected by temperatures, water based Polyurethane has several advantages over it.

For starters, Polyurethane with an oil base is quite toxic and could cause bronchitis and other breathing problems. Or, it could increase the already existing problems like asthma and leave you with a damaged lung!

This is because it contains a significant amount of VOC (volatile organic compounds).

Water based Polyurethane, on the other hand, mostly contains a negligible/trace amount of VOC, thus making it safer. Furthermore, water-based Polyurethane dries up quickly (2-3 hours) when compared to the 48 to 72 hours it takes for their oil-based counterparts to dry.

Though, after application, one needs nothing less than three coats to achieve a perfect finish for water-based liquid, that’s not the case with the latter.

Moreover, water based floor finish has little or no odor, thus easier to maintain and can be cleaned with just soap and water. This makes it ideal for home and interior surfaces.

With these fantastic benefits, why would one opt for something that can cause the risk of disease and tedious maintenance when you can go for something better?

Is Water-based Polyurethane Durable Enough To Use On Floor?

That is one question that keeps going through your mind when you’re in search of a suitable polyurethane. Well, the simple answer is yes! Water based Polyurethane is quite durable and can last a long time if cleaned and maintained regularly.

There are right water based formulas that cost almost twice as much as oil-based formulas do. Though, a few years ago, that wasn’t the case.

Over the years, however, a lot of brands have improved on the quality and durability of their water based finish formula. A good water based polyurethane could last almost ten years, depending on the level of traffic the floor experiences.

However, some inferior cheap ones wouldn’t last a month before your floor begins to look as rusty as day-old toast! So, when buying, it is advisable to go for top-notch water based formulas from known brands with high positive reviews.

When To Avoid Water Based Polyurethane

Deciding whether to use water based or oil-based Polyurethane is just a matter of preference. However, there are certain situations whereby you have to choose one over the other to achieve the perfect result for your project.

If you are aiming for a light color, or your wood is natural and more of a lighter shade, go for water based Polyurethane. It gives the floor a silky glossy, yet not too slippery hue.

But if you want your floor to have a more luxurious appearance and a slightly darker or an amortized appearance, oil-based polyurethane is the ideal finish to use. Also, this Polyurethane should be used for gray and dusty looking wood for a perfect finish.

Avoid water based Polyurethane when working with white oak, maple, or brick. This Polyurethane gives a clear result and dries at a much faster rate, so if you are not in much of a hurry, go for the oil-based formula.

Tips for Applying Water Based Polyurethane for a Perfect Finish

For beginners, here are a few useful tips that will help you achieve a perfect finish with water based Polyurethane.

Stir, Don’t Shake

Never shake a can or gallon of the formula before use. This can introduce foam or bubbles which will affect your end product; the finish. However, make sure you stir thoroughly in between each use.

Ensure Good Environment

Working in a dusty and non-ventilated place can cause imperfections in your project. Water based Polyurethane takes hours to dry.

Therefore, if your environment is not clean, dust and dirt may settle on the floor and affect your final result. Also, when working with a formula that has a strong smell, make sure you do so in a well-ventilated area.

Adoid Drips, Make Even Coat

Apply thinner coats and do make sure the surface you are working on with is flat enough. This is to prevent and minimize drips, which will dry and affect your final finish. If drips occur, allow to dry and remove with a sharp blade, then clean with a fine cloth. This will reduce the appearance of blemishes.

Use wipe-on or spray-finish brush for even coat and avoid drips.

Check Again before It Dries

Immediately after the application of each coat, use proper lighting to check for imperfections such as marks, bubbles, and bumps. You should crouch down to also check where the coating is too thin, too thick, or anything you might have skipped unknowingly.

This gives you the advantage of fixing all problems when the coating is still wet and before it dries up.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can wood finish be applied to cabinets and floor with a sponge roller?

Yes, it can be applied with a sponge roller, though most products include mode and preferred tool of application in instructions.

2. Is it advisable to apply wood finish to floors that have scratches in them?

Yes! It covers flaws very well though it doesn’t repair them. 

3. How often should I apply wood finish to my floor?

Well, it all depends on the level of daily movement and traffic on the floor. High traffic should be at least 3 to 4 years, while low traffic could take ten years.

4. How long does it take for a water based poly to cure?

Minimum curing period is mostly two hours while the maximum can last up to five hours.

5. Can I use water based Polyurethane for exterior surfaces?

Not all wood finishes are meant for exterior use as some are not resistant to harsh weather. Therefore, you should check for a product that can be applied on exterior surfaces during purchase.


Water-based Polyurethane is gradually gaining more recognition than their oil-based counterparts. However, finding the best water-based Polyurethane for the floor could be quite challenging. They give your floor a subtle elegant hue.