Polyurethane Types and Finishes

Polyurethane Types

Moisture Cured Polyurethane

Moisture-cured (aka. solvent-based or oil-based) polyurethane is the most common product that is used by floor sanding companies. The easiest way to tell whether a solvent-based or water-based product is being applied is if its giving off strong toxic fumes. Water-based products have very little smell so can be easily distinguished.

Generally speaking a solvent-based polyurethane will give your floor a bit more depth, the main reason being is that this product is applied in thicker coats.

You will find that the solvent-based product tends to yellow over a period of time, generally it takes 6 to 18 months to yellow depending on how much sun that area is exposed to.

Below are two examples of how much the polyurethane darkens the floor, along with another picture of the difference between old polyurethane and when the floor is back to bare timber. The lighter coloured areas is actually the original colour of the floor when first finished:

  Water-based Polyurethane

Water-based polyurethanes provide a very natural finish that is generally lighter and gives the appearance of natural wood with minimal coating applied. During the application process a water-based product produces almost no fumes.

Waterbased polyurethane comes in two variations: i) residential product and ii) commercial product. The difference between the two product is the commercial waterbased polyurethane has a hardener added into the polyurethane before application.

In our opinion the residential product is inferior and does not wear very well at all and hence we DO NOT apply it. You’re going to find it scratches easily shows wear marks in high traffic areas, and all this will mean you’re going to have to redo your floors in a couple of years.

The commercial product is on par wearability wise with the moisture cured product, its non-yellowing and produces very little smell. The smell disappears once the product cures which is generally 6 to 8 hours.

We recommend waterbased polyurethane for families with allergies, clients that do not want their floors to yellow off or projects that are short on time.

Polyurethane Finishes

Gloss Finish

Gloss polyurethane brings out the natural warmth of timber floors and give an area a “roominess” feel.

It is a highly reflective finish so be aware that it does show dirt and dust more than a satin or a matte finish.

This finish looks great on darker timber floors.Satin/Matte Finish

Satin has a noticeably softer look and feel than the traditional gloss finish. We have noticed over the last 12 to 18 months that satin finishes have become increasingly more popular.

Matte is flatter again – giving a very natural look to your floor.

Both of these finishes will help to hide dust and dirt

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