The best finish for your timber floors is largely going to come down to personal preference. Someone who wants a high gloss finish is going to require a totally different product to those who may want a more natural looking flat finish. Basically your coating’s choice comes down to three major categories. Those being Water Based, Solvent Based or Oil Based coatings. To give you a better understanding of what sort of product you require here are some of the different characteristics of each.
As the name suggests, solvent based coatings use solvent as the flowing agent. They are available in either a single pack or two pack finish. The single pack polyurethanes are very popular these days due to their ease of use and good wear characteristics, although there are still a lot of contractors who still use the two pack due to way it flows and settles out on the floor. Generally speaking, most solvent based coating have very good wear and chemical resistance. If you are after a high gloss finish than a high build single pack or two pack finish is going to be your best bet. You also have the choice with these coatings to achieve a Matt, Satin or Semi-Gloss finish. Probably the only downside of these sort of coatings is the smell or fumes as the solvents evaporate off.
There has been a significant trend towards these sort of coatings in the last few years. As technology has evolved so too has the advancement in the way these coatings wear and are applied. Many of the leading suppliers now make both single and two pack water based polyurethane coatings. Water based coatings will give you a very natural looking floor and they tend not to yellow off to the extent that solvent coatings do. They are available in Extra-Matt, Matt, Satin and Gloss finishes, however if you are after a gloss finish just be aware that you will never be able to achieve the same sort of gloss level with a water based coating as you will with solvent based. One of the big advantages with this sort of coatings is there are no nasty smells as the coating is put down so it is very suitable for areas that require coating when there may be a lot of people close by that you don’t want to offend or get offside.
There are a few different types of oil based coatings on the market. There are those like your Tung-oil and oil modified coatings which are rolled on and then there is the ones like you hard wax oils that penetrate and are buffed into the floor. These sort of coatings tend to highlight the natural characteristics in the floor and provide a very natural looking finish. Tung-Oil and Oil modified finishes while not providing the same sort of wear capabilities as solvent or water based finishes they are very suitable for new floor installations or those timber floors that may have constant movement issues. This is because they allow the floor boards to move and separate at the Tung and groove and will not glue them together. The oils that are buffed into the floor are very natural looking and are very is to maintain, if they are showing signs of wear simply