If you're getting ready to install hardwood flooring, then you should consider what type of finish you want. There are several different finishes available. They each have their own set of unique drawbacks and benefits. It's important to learn about each finish before you get started. You don't want to apply something only to decide to remove it. Removing any type of wood finish is a tough job, so make sure you choose wisely between these two common finishes.


Using wax finish is one of the oldest methods to seal up a hardwood floor. There are several benefits to using wax. The first is that it is very easy to apply. It is also very quick to dry -- you can apply two coats in an afternoon. Also, wax is very simple to fix. You can apply new wax when you are looking to touch up the floor. You don't have to strip the floor to fix a spot. New wax can be buffed into the scratch, filling it up. Wax is also very cheap when compared to other finishes.

The downside to using wax is that it is not as durable as some finishes. This means that you will have to periodically do touch-up work. For this reason, wax finishes are not great for high traffic areas of your home. Finally, if you're looking for a glossy shine, you won't get that with wax. Your best bet is to go with poly.


Poly finishes are really popular because they are durable and look beautiful. There are two separate types of polyurethane finishes. One is an oil-based poly; the other is a water-based poly.

Water-based poly dries much quicker than oil-based. It does not have the same heavy smell, which makes it much easier to apply. It is more expensive than oil, however, and not as durable.

Oil-based poly takes a long time to dry. The process of finishing your floor can easily stretch into two days. There are also very heavy fumes associated with oil-poly. This means proper ventilation and protective breathing apparatuses are necessary.

However, there are benefits to oil-poly. The main benefit to an oil-based poly is its durability -- it really stands up to everyday wear and tear. Oil-based poly will yellow as they it gets older, but many people like this look. It also has a very glossy look that many find attractive.

Making Your Choice

If you're the type of person who wants a classic floor finish, and you don't mind doing regular touch up work, then a wax floor is a good choice. However, make sure not to use it anywhere there is high foot traffic of where it could get stained. Places like bedrooms and offices are ideal.

If you want something that you can forget about once it's applied, then look for a poly-based finish. If you are applying the poly yourself, then it is best to use a water-based application. The oil-based applications take a long time to dry and the fumes are hazardous. If you do decide on the oil-based poly, which is the most durable, it is best to hire professionals, such as those at Towne Interiors, to apply it for you while you are away from the house.