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Oil-Based Finish vs. Water-Based Finish

Hardwood is a great material to use for the floors of your home. It’s not just a sustainable resource for flooring but also provides an elegant finish and aesthetic to your home. Like any material, over time, your hardwood floors will begin to depreciate as we continue to walk and move around the house. If you are noticing deep scratches, scuff marks, water damage, or general wear & tear in your home’s floor, you should call on an experienced professional in hardwood floors like our team at Virginia Top Floors.

We provide residents with solutions to resolve minor wear & tear and prevent further damage from occurring. When it comes to applying a finish to your hardwood floors, many people get confused when it comes between an oil-based finish and a water-based finish. Each has their own pros and cons depending on your situation and what kind of hardwood you currently are trying to refinish.

Our craftsmen have provided expert hardwood floor repair services for residents and businesses throughout Catlett, VA, and throughout Northern VA. With over 50 years of extensive experience, we ensure the highest-quality of hardwood floor care, repair, and installation.

Here are a few pros and cons to each type of finish so you can decide which option is best for you:

Oil-Based Finish


Oil-based finishes are generally a better option if you want more depth and warmth to your hardwood floors.

While Oak is a popular choice of hardwood that will actually look great with an oil-based finish, Heart Pine acquires the rich blood-orange color for which they are known. Over time, the oil finish ambers, giving the wood a much richer, darker tone.

Drying Time

A downside to oil-based finishes is the amount of time it takes to dry. As you can imagine, oil will dry a lot slower than a water-based compound.

The actual chemical in oil-based finishes is called polyurethane, a polymer that is found in almost all oil-based finishes.

Since the oil-based finish takes longer to dry, the chances of dust and other unwanted particles touching the surface increases.

When applying an oil-based finish, make sure that you have enough time for it to dry and that the area has limited access once finished. Another common complaint associated with oil-based finishes is that fumes take longer to dissipate than their water-based counterpart.

Water-Based Finish


Water-based finishes have a much lighter appearance to them. Since the finish is completely clear.

If your hardwood is a lighter tone and you’d like to sustain that lighter tone, then a water-based finish may be the right choice for you as they will not amber like oil-based finishes do.

Drying Time

A benefit of water-based finishes is that they dry quickly after applying your finish. It’s a matter of a couple of hours versus eight to twelve hours with oil-based finishes.

The less time it takes for the finish to dry, the less chances there are for unwanted particles and dust to land on the surface, potentially ruining your chances of getting the best, polished finish.

Virginia Top Floors: Professional Hardwood Floor Repair Catlett, VA

Virginia Top Floors has been working on high-quality flooring in the Catlett, VA, and throughout the Northern VA area for over 50 years. Our team of experienced professionals can help you choose the right finish for your hardwood floors and provide custom hardwood floor repair to help enhance its appearance. We offer the best quality hardwood solutions at competitive prices to help you get a finished product you can be proud of.

Contact us at (703) 688-3478 to schedule an appointment and get your floors refinished & repaired today.