There are three types of finish options that we offer to color and protect your site-finished floor. Read about each option to understand the characteristics of these finishes.
- OIL-BASED POLYURETHANE
The solids of oil-based polyurethane are a mix of alkyd resins and plastic (polyurethane). It is a tough, solvent-resistant finish with a long, proven track record. Old schoolers consider oil-based poly to be superior to the newer, water-based finishes, but that is debatable.
Oil-based polyurethane will give your floors a warm, rich glow because of its amber tone and thick application characteristics. Over time, this type of finish will continue to amber, which may be a turn off for some. Generally, for warm-tone/stained floors this increases the beauty. For grey and white tone floors, this can really detract from the look.
If you would like a natural floor, we will use a sealer before applying your finish. The sealer will give the wood grains beautiful depth and prevent side-bonding (boards sticking together and eventually splitting). Maybe you prefer we give your floor some color; in this case, we will stain your floor using an oil-based stain. There are plenty of color possibilities. Here is a link to the Duraseal color gallery.
Generally, we suggest to narrow it down to 3-4 color options that you like. Most pictures you encounter will be on red oak or white oak because they are popular and take stains very well. Each species will accept stain differently. Be sure to ask us for pictures if you would like to see any of these stain options on our previous projects. This will give you an idea as to what the stain looks like across an entire floor, not just a small online picture. You can also find pictures on the internet by typing in “Duraseal [stain color] on [your wood species].”
Then, we will apply the samples to your floor during the sanding process. This is important so you can see them in your own lighting, against your paint and woodwork, and on your distinct batch of wood. Once you select your perfect option, we will sand away the sample swatches and continue with your project.
For oil-based products, we use Duraseal. They have been around for over 100 years, constantly researching and developing the highest quality products in this segment. We pay more for it, but it has never once let us or our clients down.
Pros of Oil-Based Polyurethane: long history of durability, typically the least expensive finish option, rich glow, many stain color options, thick build layer, available in many sheens: matte, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss
Cons of Oil-Based Polyurethane: slightly softer than water-based finish, long cure time, ambers with age, high VOC content will smell and require you to be out of your house for a few days
2. WATER-BASED FINISH
First things first, not all water-based finishes are created equal. The information contained in this paragraph is relative to Loba. This is the main water-based finish line used by Timberwolf. Loba is a German product that is rapidly gaining popularity in the United States. They were the first to develop a two-part ultra hard finish and they have since perfected their product line.
Most contractors will use a product called Bona. We do not want to speak ill, but we used to apply Bona like everyone else and it has several short-comings. In our experience (including the floors in our own homes) Loba is noticeably better in protection/durability and absolutely superior in terms of looks. No more milky-looking top coats and thin application.
Loba is applied with proprietary microfiber rollers; it goes on thick and stays clear. The durability of 2K Supra and 2K Invisible Protect are astonishing; in our opinion they are even stronger than oil-based polyurethane. Loba Hybrid and EasyFinish are fantastic single component products, but if you have children and dogs, the upgrade to 2K is well worth it.
Water-based finishes are a fantastic choice if you want a light, white, or grey tone on your floor. Without the ambering characteristics of oil-based polyurethane, the colors will stay true. However, this clear finish doesn’t display the richness of stained floors quite as well as oil. For this reason, if you want us to stain your floors, it is best to stick with an oil-based polyurethane.
Minimal VOC content, less smells, and quick dry time are huge selling points of going with a water-based finish. This can make it easier for you to schedule your hardwood flooring project. In most cases, you will only need to be off of your floors for a 24-hour period for the finish to be applied and dry enough to walk on. Loba is fully cured after only 5 days, whereas oil takes closer to 14 days.
Pros of Water-Based Finish: less VOC content and smell, quicker cure time, very hard 2K options available, non-ambering
Cons of Water-Based Finish: more expensive, does not look as rich as oil
3) PENETRATING OIL
The third option to color and protect your wood floors is WOCA penetrating oil. WOCA is a Danish wood treatment company with roots dating back to the 1960’s. They have a huge presence in Europe and have expanded their distribution to North America. Lance from Timberwolf attended the first-ever WOCA Craftsman School at the NWFA Headquarters in St. Louis, MO in 2018 (our entire crew attended in 2019). We are proud to be ambassadors of such a tremendous product.
The WOCA penetrating oils are entirely different from the typical stain and polyurethane finish route. Instead of sitting atop the wood, these oils penetrate (and harden) into the wood. This protects your floor from the inside and outside, while allowing the wood to “breathe” naturally. The result is a natural wood look and feel, instead of the cool, artificial surface of a polyurethane finish.
Here is a comparison of 1.5″ select Red Oak floors. The first image is a floor treated with WOCA Natural Diamond Oil. The second is finished with sealer with two coats of satin polyurethane.
As you see, the WOCA finish looks richer and shows the character of the wood. However, this is not always preferable. Traditional stains and sealers do a better job of making a floor appear “even” and masking any wood discoloration.
WOCA penetrating oil is remarkably “green” when compared to polyurethane options. They are plant-based and 100% VOC-free (volatile organic compounds). For families with young children and pets, this is a huge advantage. Read more directly from the WOCA web page: WOCA Low VOCs
As beautiful as they are, wood floors are still floors. Cast iron pans will be dropped, kids will rollerblade, dogs will get zoomies. Which product will hold up better over time? The honest answer is whichever you take better care of. Here is a rundown of wood floor maintenance for WOCA vs Polyurethane.
Certainly WOCA will show fewer surface scratches than polyurethane because the oil-treated wood is deeper and stronger than most polyurethane finishes (we do offer upgraded heavy duty traditional finishes). With routine cleaning and periodic maintenance, your WOCA floor will actually look better as time goes on. It is also easier to fix any deep gouges or cuts on a WOCA floor without any major sanding.
Pros of Penetrating Oil: 100% VOC Free, highlights the natural beauty of the wood, feels soft under your feet, very durable and repairable, future maintenance does not require removal of heavy furniture, looks better with time
Cons of Penetrating Oil: Only available in matte look, may not look “finished” to some, different (not harder) to maintain
We hope this has helped you get an idea for the products we use. Our team will be happy to help you determine which product is the best option for your home.