Hardwood Finishing Types



Types & Styles

Wood floors come in a variety of styles to meet the demands of today's busy lifestyles - factory finished, unfinished, solid, engineered, strip, plank, parquet, and acrylic impregnated.

Choosing the style that is best for you is an important decision, and will be based on a variety of issues including your lifestyle, your decorating style, and the area in which you live. Consider consulting with a wood flooring professional in your area to weigh the advantages of each alternative.



Wood floors come in a rainbow of colors to fit any décor. You can achieve unique, one-of-a-kind looks with custom stains and finishes. And even if your floor is old, you can achieve an entirely new look with new stain and finishes. The possibilities are endless.



Today's wood floors come in more than 50 species, both domestic and exotic, spanning the spectrum of color options, hardness, and price ranges. No matter what the look you want to achieve, there are a variety of species to meet your needs.



The appearance of the wood determines its "grade." All grades are equally strong and serviceable, but each affords you a different look.


Clear wood is free of defects, though it may have minor imperfections.


Select wood is almost clear, but contains some natural characteristics such as knots and color variations.


Common wood (No. 1 and No. 2) has more natural characteristics such as knots and color variations than either clear or select grades, and often is chosen because of these natural features and the character they bring to a room. No. 1 Common has a variegated appearance, light and dark colors, knots, flags and wormholes. No 2 Common is knotty in appearance and emphasize all wood characteristics of the species.


First grade wood has the best appearance, natural color variations and limited character marks.


Second grade wood is variegated in appearance with varying sound wood characteristics of species.


Third grade wood is knotty in appearance allowing all wood characteristics of the species.


When it comes time to stain your new floors, Kenny’s carries the latest in stain colors and finishes. There are many colors of stains on the markets today, and you can choose which one really fits the décor of your home and brings out the beauty in your hardwood floors. After the initial stain application, we buff the floors and add several coats of finish to create a solid seal to protect your hardwood floors from normal wear and tear. You also have the choice of the type of finish you want. A refinished hardwood floor from Kenny’s will revitalize your floors and make your home beautiful.



Is Oil-Based or Water-Based Polyurethane Better For Refinishing Hardwood Floors?

At Kenny’s Tile & Flooring, we offer both options, but we recommend oil-based polyurethane over water based because:

1. It looks better

2. It lasts longer

3. It costs less.

There certainly are some exceptions and different customers have different needs so let’s explore this a bit further so that you can make the best educated decision for your flooring needs.

Advantages of oil-based polyurethane.

Oil based polyurethane looks better.

It has a more depth – both in color and shine and it looks the way we expect hardwood to look. Water based polyurethane has both a duller color and a duller finish.

The other issue when it comes to appearance is that over time the polyurethane ambers and darkens a bit…usually giving it a richer look while the water based poly just continues to get duller over time.

Oil based polyurethane lasts longer than water based.

There is no contest on the durability between the 2 options. Water based polyurethane has lower VOC’s – which is a bit of an environmental benefit but because it has lower VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds), it doesn’t last as long. Water based poly is thinner, and you often need 4-5 coats to equal the durability of 3 coats of oil based.

We do not have detailed analytical studies, but most customers who call to refinish their floors and previously had water based poly, call after 5-6 yrs. of use vs. most customers that call to refinish their oil based polyurethane around the 10 yr. mark. At those points in time, the water based poly looks worse than the oil based – in fact, it’s usually peeling off and the hardwood is starting to look gray. What is also interesting is that almost all customers who have had water based polyurethane tell us they would NEVER do water based again. While sanding and refinishing is not terribly expensive, it can be rather inconvenient if you live in the home. You need to move all the furniture out and often go away for a week. So, if you’re going to go through the hassle of refinishing your floors, I recommend doing it right so it last longer.

Oil based polyurethane costs less than water based.

The water-based material is more expensive, but, on top of the initial cost, you also need to consider that you will need to redo the whole job sooner…you will probably redo them almost twice as often. Now, there are several benefits to water based polyurethane and in some circumstances, water based poly is a great option.

Advantages of water based polyurethane:

Water based polyurethane dries faster.

In our opinion, this is the largest benefit of water based polyurethane. Usually, water based jobs you can walk on it that night; oil based jobs (depending on humidity) you need to wait at least 24 hrs. before walking on them. This option can really make sense for commercial businesses such as restaurants or stores as longer drying time means the store is closed, and there is a true business cost to that. But, for regular homeowners, usually, it is worth waiting to the next day dry in order to have the job last longer.

We have many customers who are in a rush to move into their new home, but we always recommend that it’s worth delaying move in by a few days and get their floors done right. If you don’t, you will spend more time and money paying for this later. For customers already living in their home, we recommend that they do this while they will be away for the project.

Natural or un-stained Red Oak, Maple & Walnut

Water Base finish will actually make unstained or natural red oak floors lighter and less red or orangey looking than oil base on red oak. It will actually bleach the red out (this effect takes time about 3-4 weeks after final coating). On unstained or natural maple flooring the color will remain crisp maple color where Oil base finish will amber or yellow over time. However, water base on walnut will appear hazy or cloudy & milky with duller color where oil base hands down will add more depth and bring out a darker richer color.

Water based polyurethane doesn’t smell as bad.

Both water based and oil based poly smell, and we still recommend that customers go away or stay somewhere else while this work is being done.

Water based polyurethane is a bit better for the environment…but it does depends on how you look at it.

Since water based polyurethane has lower VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds), it is a bit better for the environment. As mentioned above, the VOC’s are lower not non-existent. And, importantly, this environmental benefit only has an impact during the DRYING time. Once the poly is dry, there is no difference in smell, off-gassing, etc. and, yes, this can be confirmed with the manufacturer.

While water based is a bit better for the environment, remember that it doesn’t last as long and the floors will need to be redone in a few years, thereby eliminating that benefit. Furthermore, this will lead to an earlier demise of the wood.

Because water based polyurethanes only contain 30-35% solids (vs. oil based contain 45-50%) solids, you will need to add more coats of water based poly. Water based poly tends to cost more than oil based poly. And, when you add in an extra 1-2 coats, your cost also increases. Among water based polyurethanes, most experts agree that Bona is the best brand, and specifically Bona Traffic line. This product definitely costs extra, but if you are going to use a waterborne polyurethane, Bona is the way to go.

We hope this information has been helpful in deciding which floor is best for you and your family. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call us at 816-765-0400 for more information (Original Content borrowed from theflooringgirl.com/westchester-flooring-blog.html).