Best Water Based Polyurethanes for Floors 2021

Every once in a while, you'll need to clean your floors. No, we don't mean with a broom and a mop, but something more. As the years go by, floors can lose their shine and show signs of wear.

People usually hire an expert to handle these kinds of jobs, but you could do it yourself with the best water based polyurethanes.

These are a very beginner-friendly way to give your floors the right finish as the water-based formula doesn't give off chemical fumes. They're even handy for professionals who want safe polyurethanes for their jobs.

After using many formulas, we've found 2 that are amazing choices for any floor cleaning job. There’s even a guide to help you figure out how to pick the right formula for your floors.

So then, let’s start off with the reviews!

2 Best Water Based Polyurethanes

We’ve used many excellent polyurethanes, but these 2 ended up being our favorites. Check the reviews to see why we consider them the best in the market.

1. Bona Finish – Mega HD Clear Satin

Bona Finish – Mega HD Clear Satin

If you’ve ever researched quality polyurethanes before, we’re sure you’ve heard about Bona. They're the standard for superb water-based polyurethanes, after all, and their HD satin solution is bound to give your floors the pristine finish you want.

Their innovative formula will boost your floor's durability and longevity right off the gate.

Easily our favorite aspect of this spectacular formula is how it can hold up in any kind of weather. You’ll find your floors in perfect condition despite exposure to harsh winters or wet storms. With all that, there’s no wonder these polyurethanes are so highly regarded.

If you’ve ever applied these formulas to your floors before, you know it can be a little tough. You won’t know how much to put, how much is safe, or even effective. However, Bona’s MEGA HD clear satin formula makes application easy as there's a lot more leniency in applying the best finish.

Bona outdid themselves with this spectacular formula. With just 3 coats, it can handle children and pets' roughness without any signs of wear. Not to mention, it offers incredibly fast drying. You may even be able to get your coats in half a day if the conditions are right.

Overall, Bona finishes are usually a superb standard when it comes to polyurethanes. Being water-based also makes it much healthier than its oil-based counterparts. The superb durability and fast drying easy make it among the best finishes we've ever applied.

Pros

  • Incredible durability in just 3 coats
  • Dries up fairly quickly
  • High-definition satin finish for gorgeous floors
  • Easy and simple to apply and coat
  • Can handle rough abuse from pets

Cons

  • You need to buy a hardener separately
  • Has difficulty drying in high humidity

2. Minwax 710330000 Water Based Oil-Modified Polyurethane, gallon, Satin

Minwax 710330000 Water Based Oil-Modified Polyurethane

We might have sung a lot of praises for Bona, but Minwax stands as their equal in more ways than one. Their special water-based polyurethane will astound you through its outstanding quality.

While it does utilize some oil, it's minimal enough not to cause health concerns but just enough to boost performance significantly. Let's explain how.

You know how polyurethanes exude an odor when you apply the first coat? Well, rest easy because the Minwax formula minimizes the smell to preserve your home’s ambient smell. It makes life between coats a lot easier and much more pleasant.

Even if you had to deal with odors, you wouldn’t have to wait long because this solution dries up really fast. You won’t have to spend whole days on each coat. In fact, you might be able to finish all your coats in just one day! This makes applying the finish very fast and easy.

Since it's water-based, you can easily clean it up with some warm water. You won't have to use heavy and unhealthy cleaning solutions. As such, using the Minwax solution is extremely easy to maintain and considerably healthier to have. The water-based formula also ensures no odor and eliminates fumes.

Finally, there’s durability. Minwax preserves your floors in ways that most polyurethanes simply can't. It's not just flooring; they're perfect for any wooden furniture or constructs to not only boost their durability and longevity but also to grant a gorgeous finish to make your home absolutely stellar.

Pros

  • Water-based and oil adjusted nature reduces odor
  • Applicable to any interior wood surfaces
  • Dries up incredibly quickly
  • Easy to clean and maintain with warm water
  • Offers superb durability in a few coats

Cons

  • Might dry a bit too quickly in some cases
  • Finish could be a bit unclear for some

What to Look for Before You Buy?

Now that you've gone over our recommendations, you might think you're ready to make a purchase. Well, not quite. There's a lot that goes into buying any product, whether it's the right water-based polyurethane or the strongest ropes for pulling tree. You'll need to know if your solution has the features it needs to be effective for your home.

Durability

This is the main reason why anyone uses finishes in the first place. It’s meant to preserve the quality of your floors or other wooden surfaces. If it can’t, then it’s just a waste of money and effort. Nevertheless, as essential as durability is, not all finishes offer the same levels of it.

Generally, units that grant more durability are more expensive. However, it’s worth the price if you really need it. For example, if you have pets, you can bet you’ll see many scratches and gouges if you apply a weak solution.

It’s also important that they can keep your floors spotless despite harsh weather conditions.

Longevity

This goes hand in hand with the last feature. It won’t matter how durable your finish is if it can’t last long. Make sure the polyurethane you use utilizes solutions that can enhance the longevity of the finish.

The longer they last, the less frequently you’ll have to worry about finishes. So, it’ll save you from reapplying over and over again. Hence, it’s one of the most important features polyurethane can have.

Odor

Although smells are mostly prevalent in oil-based solutions, you’ll still find some in water-based ones as well. Of course, most high-quality polyurethanes mitigate the smells, though many still don’t, unlike the best furniture waxes.

This feature depends on how much the smell actually bothers you. Due to drying times and coatings, it’ll be around for a while. If you’re not pleased with the smell, it’s going to affect you, especially if your home isn’t well-ventilated.

So, try to get something that minimizes smells. Usually, water-based units don't produce many smells, but you should still get something that minimizes smells if you can.

Drying Time

When you apply a finish, you're going to have to wait for it to dry before applying the second coat. This wait can be long or short. Some formulas demand that you wait for 6 hours per coat, while others can be much shorter. Of course, the less time you have to deal with finishing your floors, the better.

Water-based polyurethanes have the advantage of drying really quickly. Nevertheless, the faster something dries, the more expensive it is likely to be. Of course, there’s always a risk that they may dry too fast.

In that case, your coating will get messed up and might have to re-sand the floor. So, take the size of your house and drying time into consideration before you buy.

Appearance

One of the biggest reasons we apply finishes, wood wax, poulyurethane, etc., in the first place is to give our surfaces a nice look. It can be a glossy sheen, a glow, or a satin finish based on what you apply.

This is almost completely based on personal preference. Once you apply a finish, you can expect to deal with it for many years of your life. If it's something you don't like, it's going to bother you.

Usually, each model has different finish options. So, choose something that'll fit your tastes and use it to make your house look the way you want it to. Though, you'll usually want the polyurethane to be as clear and transparent as possible to preserve the original color of your wooden surfaces.

Price

Big houses need a lot of polyurethane. The more you need, the more you need to buy. Hence, the budget is always a concern. Like everything else, the more expensive a polyurethane is, the better finish you'll have.

Of course, many models, such as the Bona and Minwax unit we recommended, are cost-effective while still offering immense quality.

Either way, consider your budget and the amount you need to buy before you actually settle on what water-based polyurethane you’ll buy for your floors.

Also, we would recommend you to buy aprons for woodworking as well to keep your clothes 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are Polyurethanes exactly?

When processed with other solvents, these are a certain type of polymer that can protect your floors from scratches and environmental damage.

2. Do I shake the tin before use?

Absolutely not! While shaking tins are pretty common for many other solvents, when you introduce something like polyurethanes, you'll encounter a lot of problems.

It'll cause bubbles, which will make your coats uneven and unnatural. As such, your coats will be ruined, and you'll have to go through a lot of trouble to fix them.

3. Are water-based polyurethanes better than oil-based?

In many ways, yes! They tend to last a lot longer and very impressive durability. Water-based solvents dry a lot faster too. It's even a lot clearer to maintain the true color and texture of your wooden surfaces.

4. Can the environment affect drying?

Yes. Coating in humid or cold environments will naturally affect the coats. In severe cases, it might even get sticky and hard to apply. So, you’ll need to have some awareness of the temperature and humidity before you begin to apply. This is why some degree of preparation is absolutely necessary.

5. How long do I have to wait before I can walk on the floor?

Even after drying, it's recommended to wait at least a day before you begin walking. This includes you and your pets. Even after drying, the floor has to undergo the curing process to properly complete the finish.

6. Do I have to sand after each coat?

Yes, it is highly recommended that you do so. Always sand right after the coat finishes. Afterward, place your new coat and repeat until you feel like you've got the finish you need that'll be durable.

Usually, this is about 2 or 3 coats. More is usually not necessary, but you can do so if you want. Make sure to make light strokes as sanding too hard could ruin the wooden surface.

7. Do I use a brush or a roller?

Rollers are always a safe bet, considering how they'll offer an even coat while being very easy to apply. Brushes are good, too, as they'll give you more volume and control over your coats. So, in the end, it's up to you to choose which one you'd prefer to chat with.

Final Words

Finishing your floors is a delicate task, but you can create gorgeous and durable floors with the right equipment and polyurethane. Now that you've gone through our guide, you know how to find the best water-based polyurethanes out there. So, go and give your floors the finish they deserve!

By any chance, if you're also searching for furniture waxes, check out this article.

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