Waterborne Polyurethane

Waterborne Polyurethane

(or also known as Water base polyurethane)

Over the years, hardwood floor finish has been dominated by oil based polyurethane.  The reason for this is unfortunately quite extensive but to start with, oil base polyurethane is much cheaper than water base and depending on which brand and line picked, water base still is much more expensive.  Secondly, waterborne products are hard to apply without the proper training and thus very hard to work with.  Water base finish drys very quickly, so most contractors refrain from using it, because during the coating process the finish is drying instantly.  If poly is applied and drys, then more finish is applied on top of it during the coat, this causes problems and imperfections.  Thus when a floor is getting a water base finish, the coat needs to move quickly and very thoroughly. However there are schools offered by manufacturers, to train contractors to properly apply their products.  The last reason is due to waterborne product’s history of failed finishes and less durable floors. Some of this is due to some cheaper manufacturers, but the main reason is the intersecting of brand systems.  Each brand requires it’s own system of stains and sealers to be used, if not the finish is at risk of failure.


There are many advantages to choosing waterborne polyurethane.  The durability for starters, has improved exponentially since it was introduced.  As long as the procedures taken are in accordance to the finishes’ designed system, the end product will be very tough. There is also the dry time, waterborne polyurethane dries in 2-3 hours compared to oil base drying in 8 hours.  This leaves the options of doing several coats in a day, and a homeowner’s ability to stay in the house during the process. If a customer needs/wants to stay in their house, they now can, and they can walk (lightly) wherever they need to.  Both oil base and water base finishes require 7 days to cure, which means a homeowner can not move their furniture back with in 3 hours.  A water base finish is only 70% cured after 3 hours, and only 90% after 3 days, so furniture and rugs still need to wait the 7 days before the product is fully cured and hard.  Now this is also the Green choice, since waterborne products contain very low to even no volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  VOCs are gases emitted from most oil based finishes and polyurethanes, but water base alll across the board contains limited amounts. Click here to learn more about VOCs.

Click here to view our different brands of water base polyurethane finishes. Click here to visit our main supplier of waterborne products.

Post written by: Joshua Rusche

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