Hardwood floor finishing creates a water-resistant surface and can dramatically affect the overall look of your flooring. Change the tone, sheen and other elements of your flooring by selecting one of these popular floor finish options.


Polyurethane can be either oil-based or water-based. Both options offer a durable finish that’s great for high-traffic areas. Polyurethane is a synthetic option that offers premier water resistance but can make scratches and scrapes stand out on your flooring.

Oil-based polyurethane typically comes with high VOCs, so you’ll want to spend the night elsewhere while this finish is applied. Water-based alternatives typically have low VOCs but don’t offer the same durability.


Wax is a time-tested method of preserving wood floors. Unlike polyurethane, it captures the natural look and tone of your wood floor with a low sheen. Waxing is popular in historic homes and other hardwood floor finishing projects that desire a perfectly natural look. However, waxing is far more time-consuming than a polyurethane coat and it can stain your floor over time.


Another great natural option is shellac. This old technique uses a mixture of alcohol and secretions of the lac bug. It’s a particularly low VOC option and is quick to dry, but it can take a significant amount of time to apply. Shellac is far less durable than modern options, making it less than ideal for most homeowners.

Choosing the Right Finish

What do you want to get out of a floor finish? Consider the time it takes to apply a finish, the sheen you’re looking for and your budget for hardwood flooring maintenance. These factors will help you choose the best option to protect your floors.

Work with a professional flooring expert for more information about the best hardwood floor finishing option for your home. It’s very difficult to create an even, long-lasting coat of finish, so receive an estimate today from a qualified flooring company in your area.