What number of water-based polyurethane coats is required when refinishing my hardwood floor? This question props up frequently whenever people are sanding their hardwood floors with water-based polyurethane, especially when the coats are thin and many of the water-based poly aren’t as durable.
The answer of this question is quite straight and obvious but they're a few myths I need to debunk about the longevity of water-based polyurethanes because they are water-based poly brands that are of top-notch quality, while some are barely sufficient.
To start with, I would discuss the advantages you get for using water-based polyurethane and also their disadvantages. After which, I would list good practices to use when working with water-based polyurethanes for better results.
How many coats of water-based polyurethane should you use?
It’s best using 3 coats of water-based polyurethane for excellent results. This is vital for the first floor of your home and areas with high traffic. (I.e. entryway, family room, kitchen).
As I stated earlier that water-based polyurethane can be thin, the reality is they are not only thinner but they raise the grain of the wood, so it causes the floor to feel rough with just applying two coats of polyurethane (this occurs with cheap brands of polyurethane). But with 3 coats you're safe because of the extra buffing that smoothens the surface better and hides the wood's anomalies from the naked eye.
Advantages of water-based polyurethane
Water-based polyurethane smells less
One major drawback of refinishing floors is the smell. But with water-based polyurethane it smells less compared to other polyurethanes. Especially this Bona, which smells less while working, as the smell dissipates much faster.
Water-based polyurethanes come with lower VOC’s
VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) isn’t a good constituent in water-based polyurethane, which is why the lower it is present, the better. Bona also has LOW VOC's (at 125) which is the lowest in the marketplace currently. Normal average water-based polyurethane has VOC's at 200.
Another reason is that it's healthier for you and your family
Water-based polyurethane dries and heals faster
This is what makes it cool, as if you're planning to move into a new house with water-based polyurethane used for the refinishing, you can move in sooner than you expect. (Even if you're off for vacation before you get home it would have been set).
Here's why; water-based polyurethane saves you several days in drying time. So, it allows you to move in faster for faster painting. What occurs first is the drying, and then it starts healing or curing. Normally, it would take oil-based polyurethane full 30 days to fully heal or cure… but, with water-based polyurethane, the healing time can be cut to 2 weeks.
Although you would be able to walk on the floors after 24 hours, I recommend you wait for at least 48 hours because the floors are still vulnerable and prone to scratch. This should be taken note of especially if you own a pet. You would have to keep your pet off the floors, well unless you buy pet socks.
Disadvantages of water-based polyurethane
Water-based polyurethane is more expensive than oil-based polyurethane
I know it may be surprising, but that's the truth! The material costs are more expensive because it can be challenging to produce water-based polyurethane that sticks and works. If you're refinishing a large area, expect to pay an extra $0.40 - $1.40 per square foot for applying water-based polyurethane, it also depends on the particular brand you're using.
Note: if your professional installer is charging you the same price for both oil-based and water-based polyurethane, then they’re probably using a cheaper brand that may likely wear out not too long.
Water-based polyurethane doesn't give as rich or dark of a look for a darker finish
If you choose to go dark, then I would go for oil-based polyurethane as they would look richer, have more depth, and darker. This should be used only if you want dark colors (I.e. Jacobean, dark walnut, ebony blends)
Cheap water-based polyurethane brands won’t be as effective as oil-based polyurethane
When choosing any water-based polyurethane there's a wide range of longevity to choose from. (Bona is my best pick though) if you pick a low grade or mid-grade water-based polyurethane, then you should expect the longevity to be lower than oil-based polyurethane.
When I say “longevity” it means it won’t be scratch-proof, it will easily get peeled and scratched, and it would not last up to 4 years (years vary, it depends on the traffic in your home)
Did you enjoy reading this post? Was it helpful to you?
So probably, this helps explains the number of coats needed when applying water-based polyurethane, when it’s ideal to use it along with its advantages and disadvantages.
Do you want more content like this? Or are you about to do a floor refinish and you’re unsure of the brand, or polyurethane to use? Please let us know in the comments! If you enjoyed, please share! ~Remember sharing is caring! ~