Water Base Vs. Oil Base Finish

water-vs-oilWithout some kind of finish to protect it from the elements, wood will become dry and lifeless over time.  Finishing a wood floor, whether you stain it or not, will give richness and depth to the wood while  at the same time, protecting it from the knocks and scrapes of day to day use and abuse.  Having decided to finish your floor, the very first question that you will have to face is:  What type of finish to use..?

The question of whether to use a water based finish or an oil based finish is one that is widely debated by industry professionals and homeowners alike.  Each has its proponents and detractors and there are undeniable differences in the results produced by each product.  Water based finishes appear milky in the can, but go on clear and remain clear. They will slightly accent the character of wood without giving it the amber tint of an oil based product.

From an environmental standpoint, there is really no question that water based finishes are the way to go.  Oil based finishes have very high VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) levels, very strong odors (requiring a well-ventilated work environment) and require other solvents (e.g. mineral spirits) for clean-up.  By contrast, water based finishes are much lower in VOC’s, are practically odorless and can be cleaned up with water.   The decision to go with a water based finish does however come with a price tag – water based finishes are more expensive to produce and that is reflected in the price to the consumer.

From an application standpoint, water based finishes dry quicker than oil based finishes – allowing several coats to be applied each day.  They can be difficult to apply quickly and correctly, and it’s often recommended that water base finishing be done by professionals.  Each coat of an oil based finish takes much longer to dry, often as long as 24 hours, and the workspace will be uninhabitable in the meantime.

The Men With Tools has chosen to work exclusively with water based instant curing UV finishes and their experienced crews can often complete the finish process in just one day.

Once the color coat (if any) has been applied, The Men With Tools lays down a sealer before applying any finish coats.  The primary purpose of the sealer is to prepare the surface of the wood for future coats of finish, sealing the top surface of the wood and not allowing the finish to penetrate the open grain of the wood.   This preparation step produces a much nicer and more even finish.  It’s important to note that the sealer is not considered to be a finish coat; beware of any contractors who advise you differently.

Each finish coat adds a protective layer on top of the wood. The more coats applied, the greater the durability of the finish. The Men With Tools will typically apply 3 full coats of  finish, usually in one day. The life expectancy of our finishes is roughly 3-5 years per coat.

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(347) 815-4151

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