Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What a Difference the Finish Makes?

You'll spend quite a bit of time deciding what kind of hardwood flooring to install in your home. But it's about more than just the species of wood, the finish is just as important and will affect your flooring's final appearance. We're ready to discuss all of the options with.

The type of finish on a wood floor makes a difference on looks, durability and wear. From traditional oak hardwood floors to exotics such as Brazilian walnut (also known as ipe) and Bolivian rosewood, selecting a floor finish to best suit the type of wood is critical to protect it.

More and more varieties of hardwood flooring are coming from the manufacturer already finished, which typically eliminates the need for any sealer or finish after installation. Manufacturers provide information on the factory prefinish they apply and will give recommendations for any additional finishing after installation.

Most exotic wood floors are manufactured as solid floors, while some varieties are available as an engineered floor. Cork and other exotics are becoming increasingly popular as prefinished products with an aluminum oxide finish or UV-cured acrylic finish.

Also increasing in popularity and use, bamboo comes in a natural, yellow color or medium-brown tone, with grain patterns that run either horizontally or vertically. It is unusual to see it stained a dark color, but not unheard of. Bamboo can be easily sanded and finished successfully. It is not as easy to stain because of its hardness rating, which is similar to maple—harder than oak.

Most unfinished hardwood floors require one coat of sealer and at least two coats of protectant finishing. Sealing is very important, especially under polyurethane finishes, because it seals the wood and helps to prevent panelization, or the separation of groups of boards from others or from the rest of the floor. Stain can sometimes be used as the substitute for the initial seal coat, depending on the look you want, but manufacturer's recommendations should be followed. Staining most exotics, even maple, because of their cell structures and hardness, will usually give you poor results.

Beyond the application of stain and sealer, it's essential to apply a water- or oil-based finish to protect the wood. The choice depends on the type of wood, desired results, color and grain pattern. Differences in the polyurethane finishes:


  • Fast drying, need to be applied with focus to avoid brush marks
  • They let the natural color of the wood come through. Sometimes water-based finishes wash out rich, dark hues.
  • Many flooring professionals consider water-based finishes to be superior to oil-based finishes.
  • Often recommended for many types of exotic woods.
  • Because they are water-based, they are considered environmentally-friendly.


  • Add more color and depth to most woods giving an amber or yellow effect over light woods while darkening the hue of stained and dark woods.
  • They are more forgiving than water-based when application is uneven.
  • The drying time is 12 to 24 hours.
  • Enhance the wood of species such as walnut and red birch.
  • Hand-rubbed finishes occasionally are used on special wood. Tung oil is an alternative for rustic or reclaimed-wood floors to get a natural look.

Satin finishes are an overwhelmingly popular choice. A low sheen offers a natural look that shows less wear. High gloss will show wear easily - think basketball court or bowling alley.

Following manufacturer's recommendations and your flooring professional's advice will get your the best results. Call us today for a Free Quote!


Anonymous said...

Refinishing hardwood floors takes time, patience, and the proper tools and techniques, but the results can be extraordinary. For more types of wood floor finishes, click on this link

Anonymous said...

Finishing your wood floor, makes a difference something like, how a diamond shines, after it's polished and properly shaped!