Story at a glance:

  • Sealant coats offer more control over the look and durability of finished floors.
  • Waterborne finishes cure faster and are low in VOCs, reducing harm on the environment.
  • Accounting for the climate and environment goes a long way in ensuring a successful hardwood floor installation or refinishing.

A beautiful hardwood floor can elevate any interior, creating stunning colors and textures. While customizing the floor color is an important element, so is understanding the benefits of layering a sealer or finish that not only enhances the aesthetic but also the durability of the flooring surface. Whether you want a traditional look or a completely customized creation, choosing the right coatings will ensure a stunning and long-lasting floor.

While working with an expert flooring craftsperson is always the best route to determine the right system for a floor installation or refinishing project, here are a few tips to achieve perfect results as part of Bona’s guide to hardwood floor finishes.

Consider a Sealer

bona guide to hardwood floor finishes 06

Photo courtesy of Bona

Floor sealers offer an excellent level of protection and provide an important build layer for other protective coatings. Especially for wood floors, a sealant coat offers more control over the look, uniformity, and durability of the finished floor. The sealant coat is applied after color or stain is applied but before the finish layers are added.

While some contractors might skip this step, a sealer will even out the surface of the wood, prevent tannin bleed and side bonding, increase durability of the floor and finish, and reduce the chance of a negative reaction between the wood and finish. Additionally, a sealant coat can preserve, customize, or enhance a floor’s existing color. Wood floor sealers range from waterborne to oil-modified to natural penetrating oils, all which offer a higher level of performance and durability.

Go Waterborne

bona guide to hardwood floor finishes 01

Photo courtesy of Bona

While floor sealers protect floors by penetrating into the pores of the flooring material, the floor finish provides a protective surface layer that is the first line of defense against floor damage. Additionally, floor finishes are available in a range of sheens from extra matte to glossy that will enhance the final look of the floor.

When it comes to hardwood floor finish, a range of options are available, including oil-modified polyurethane, waxes, natural penetrating oils, and acid cured. But the best and most sustainable choice is always a waterborne finish, which not only offers a highly durable and long-lasting finish but is low in VOCs and overall less impactful on the environment and better for indoor air quality. Additionally, waterborne finish provides a quicker cure time than many other finishes, allowing for hardwood floor refinishing projects to move along faster. Waterborne finish also allows the floor color to remain true over time as opposed to yellowing or dulling, which can happen particularly with oil-modified polyurethane finishes.

Use a Complete System

bona floor sealer 05

Photo courtesy of Bona

While it may not seem important to use products from the same manufacturer, it can make a huge difference during the finishing process and in the long run.

Manufacturers develop floor finishing systems to work in tandem, from the adhesive to the stain to the sealer and finish. When used together these systems work in harmony to achieve optimal results with less risk of issues like peeling, bubbling, uneven sheen, or color.

Know the Environment

bona flooring sealer 03

Photo courtesy of Bona

Accounting for the climate and environment goes a long way in ensuring a successful hardwood floor installation or refinishing. For example, more humid climates may require longer dry times for the sealer and finish. Direct sunlight when finishing a floor could cause blistering of the surface, while coating a cold floor results in uneven film build and can appear as a haze when dry. While many of today’s sealers and finishes can adapt to a wide range of challenges, starting with a hardwood floor friendly environment can save time and money.

Once the floor is complete, be sure to talk with the home or building owner about cleaning and maintaining the floors, which will further extend the life of the floor. These tips in conjunction with the guidance of a trained, professional hardwood floor craftsman will produce a beautiful hardwood floor built to last.