Polyurethane is one of those materials you encounter in your everyday life. Household and clothing items, automobile parts, and insulation for kitchen appliances are just some of the many instances consumers interact with polyurethane in their day-to-day living. This synthetic resin can be transformed into liquids or solids. One main reason this synthetic material is so popular is that it has a versatile range of uses.
Polyurethane is used on hardwood floors and woodworking as a way to protect flooring and furniture. Available as oil-based polyurethane or water-based, homeowners opt to use the liquid finish as a way to protect wood flooring from scratches, scuffing, and, staining. A polyurethane base also provides reliable waterproofing. There are pros and consequences to each base. In this article, the topics of water-based polyurethane and how long the finish lasts will be addressed.
What you’ve been missing
What is water-based polyurethane?
Safe and environmentally friendly, water-based polyurethane uses water as a base to carry the polyurethane solids. Oil-based polyurethane has oil or solvent as its base emitting dangerous VOCs. Like its name, water-based polyurethane’s use of water as its primary agent allows the consumer or user to accomplish coating and protecting the wood floor or piece of furniture with a substance that dries crystal clear.
Benefits of using water-based polyurethane
As mentioned above, any form of water-based polyurethane is safer and environmentally friendly than its oil-based counterpart. For one, water-based polyurethane products have little to no odor versus oil-based ones. Less toxic fumes will be spread throughout the air space you are working in.
Specifically, on the topic of wood floor finishing and woodworking (i.e. bookcases, desks, end tables, and the like), people tend to lean towards water-based polyurethane products for their quick-drying attributes. Yes, professionals recommend you will need more coatings(minimum of two coats and more if you prefer a glasslike appearance) of water-based polyurethane, unlike oil-based ones. However, since water-based coatings dry quicker, time is on your side while you can apply more coats in less time. Still, it is recommended that you allow floors to cure for up to 7 days, or what the product recommends.
Users of water-based polyurethanes will note that when you apply a water-based polyurethane you will notice the liquid has a milky-white appearance. It dries clear – so users do not have to fear damaging the color of the wood floor or piece of wood furniture. Water-based polyurethane products are best used with lighter wood shades or white paint.
When you are using a higher quality water-based polyurethane product you will get more out of it for your money. Water-based polyurethane products cost more than oil-based ones.
Another advantage to having floors or furniture coated with a water-based poly product is easy clean-up. Just using soap and warm water will clean up any mess, even during the application process.
How long does water-based polyurethane last?
For maximum effectiveness, a water-based polyurethane used on a wood floor may require a few different coat applications, depending on the size of the floor or furniture piece. When using water-based polyurethane for wood floors, take into consideration how much foot traffic the area gets before making your decision on water versus oil-based polyurethane.
In the last several years, the product has been both modernized and improved. Consumers can expect the product can last from 6 to 10 years. Especially true when the product is applied by professionals.
In general polyurethane products are reliable. They will protect your wood floors from scratch damage, and they also protect the floors or pieces of furniture from water harm and heat damage.
Application tips for water-based polyurethane.
If you are DIY-ing and applying a water-based polyurethane to your wood furniture or wood flooring, here are a few tips to take into consideration before getting started.
- To ensure a smooth finish to your surface, first clean the area. Use a degreaser cleaner.
- Take off the old finish (if applicable) by sanding the area. You can use synthetic wool.
- This is an important step in ensuring a smooth surface.
- Seal the area with a pre-stain sealer or wood conditioner.
- Sand the sealer or conditioner after it has dried.
- Brush on 2 to 3 coats of your chosen water-based polyurethane (follow product directions).
- Avoid bubbling by applying thin coats of water-based polyurethane using a synthetic brush. Avoid any natural brush.
- It also helps to run the synthetic brush in water which will help to prevent bubbling.
- Use a 6-inch roller when working with large flat surfaces.
Maintaining your water-based polyurethane wood floors or furniture.
Utilizing the most appropriate cleaning agents will keep your water-based polyurethane-coated wood floors or furniture in the best shape for durability for years to come.
- Always use a damp cloth. Never a soaked wet cloth. You don’t want to allow your wood flooring or furniture to swell especially if any standing water happens to seep through or between the boards. The idea here is to avert from using excessive water to clean. A little bit of water goes a long way.
- Any waterless cleanser is appropriate to use.
- Vinegar (1/2 cup) diluted in one gallon of water used as a cleaner removes salt and lime deposits, and smudges are easily wiped away.
- No oil soap. You don’t want any leftover hazy film.
- Avoid silicone cleaning products as well. Think ahead when and if the time comes to refinish your floors or pieces. Silicone is a difficult material to sand, and it causes the new finish to not adhere.
- Use a vacuum on wood floors.
When it comes to making those everyday maintenance decisions for your household, durability, safety, and cost factor in quite a bit. While top-shelf water-based polyurethane products are on the costlier side than its counterpart, oil-based polyurethane, the water-based poly products have the same durability as well as long-standing effects of up to 10 years. Water-based polyurethane coatings and finishes are less toxic and emit fewer odors. Together even with the slight price increase, a water-based polyurethane product is an excellent choice.