The two most popular modern finishes for wood flooring are oil-modified urethane and water-based polyurethane. Within both categories there are many variations and other names used to describe the finish. Oil-modified urethane and water-based polyurethane also have very different refinishing and maintenance regimes.
- Natural shellacs, lacquers, and varnishes were used in the past, as were waxes, often blended with oils.
- Oil – Oiled floors have existed for several thousand years and is the most common floor finish used globally. Oil finished floors are made from naturally derived drying oils, and are not to be confused with petroleum based oils. Pre-finished oil floors can be UV cured. Most vegetable based oils are 100% natural and contain no VOCs.Brushed and oiled – Steel brushes are used in the direction of the grain which opens up the surface of the wood and removes splinters. The wood is then oiled.
- Polyurethane – Polyurethane floor finishes were first introduced around 1942. There are several types of polyurethane finishes that exist, but the two most common are oil-modified polyurethane and water-based polyurethane. Water-based urethane is harder than oil-modified polyurethane and is much safer for the user.