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How to Select the Right Finish for Your Hardwood

wood floor

You’ve decided to install hardwood flooring in your home. This is an excellent decision that literally breathes life into spaces and gives you a surface that is durable and exceptionally attractive. The right hardwood floor finishes add even more to this gorgeous home décor option.

Benefits of Hardwood Floor Finishes

Hardwood is solid and colorful on its own, but finishes take that strength, resilience and flair to the next level. With the right finish, hardwood flooring is easier to maintain and features tones that are much deeper. There are three main finish options for hardwood:

  • Surface finish: As the name suggests, surface finishes are designed to rest on top of hardwood, giving the wood a thick layer of protection from dirt, stains and impacts.
  • Penetrating finish: This type of finish is absorbed into the wood. Penetrating options aren’t as popular as surface finishes since they don’t allow for as much flexibility. Advantages are a subtle matte gloss and long-lasting hues that aren’t affected by wear.
  • Prefinished hardwood: Contractors may offer the option of prefinished hardwood flooring. This is an ideal option for people who are sensitive to strong odors or who don’t want to deal with finish drying times.

Factors To Consider

In addition to the cost of materials, there are a few performance factors to consider:

  • Maintenance: Surface finishes provide a smooth layer that is easy to keep clean. Maintenance only requires a light sanding to remove old finish before applying a new coating.
  • Time To Dry: Generally speaking, oil-based finishes cost less but take much longer to dry – and have a much stronger smell. Water-based finishes dry faster and are more homeowner-friendly.
  • Colors: There are an ample variety of hues to choose from no matter your finish preference. Some finishes make it easier to change flooring tones — especially from dark to light — down the road.

When applied by professionals, all hardwood floor finishes offer excellent performance. Talk to an expert installer for recommendations that take into account the local climate and your personal preferences.