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Best Water Based Polyurethane for Floors – Reviews

One way to give your office or home a sparkly look is to install hardwood flooring. Apart from the look, there are many other reasons why this type of floor is the best. It is durable, easy to maintain and it also boosts your interior décor. Most importantly, you can install it both for your home or office, and it still works great.

While it is great flooring, you still need to do a couple of things once in a while to keep it looking good. For instance, you need to keep it from excess moisture, too much dryness and other elements that affect its look. One common and often recommended method is by applying a suitable floor finish. Water-based polyurethane for floors can help keep it looking great and enhance its durability.

You may, however, wonder how best you can choose a flooring finish bearing in mind that there are many out there in the market. Indeed, it is a quite challenging process especially if you have no prior experience of purchasing one in the past. In this article, we take you through the best water-based polyurethane for floors. Just in case you need a quick answer, our best overall type is Deft Interior Water-Based Polyurethane.

Top 4 Water Based Polyurethane for Floors

Here is our carefully selected list of best the best water-based polyurethane for floors on the market at the moment.

#1: Deft Interior Water-Based Polyurethane – Best Overall

If you want greater durability and not just the water-based property then this could be what you need to for your job. The Deft Interior Water-Based Polyurethane is our best overall for all the right reasons as you will see shortly. First, it is formulated in a special way that makes it usable both in the interiors as well as exteriors.

Unlike other water-based polyurethane products for floors, Deft Brand utilizes the latest technology. For instance, it has unique components that include resistance to scratch, protection from ultraviolet radiation, and excellent appearance. It does not also interfere with the natural color of the hardwood used. Instead, it improves its appearance hence bringing out the color effect of your choice to your floor.

It is also worth noting that this product meets all the industry standards for water-based polyurethane for floors. For instance, it is an environmentally friendly product that meets standard VOC and odor level requirements, is safe to apply, and spreads evenly. Finally, as a potential buyer or user, you should also note that this product is made with 100% urethane hence its quality is no doubt outstanding.


  • Highly durable and keeps your floor from UV rays and moisture that would destroy it slowly
  • Has crystal clear appearance with low VOC content and any allergic odor
  • You do not need a sealer to use together with this product


  • Although it is best for both interior and exterior, it is ideal for coating exterior surfaces

#2: RUST-OLEUM 200231 Paint – Most Trusted Water-Based Polyurethane Brand

You’ve probably heard people talking about how a product is as good as the brand that makes it. Indeed, that is truly the case, and it also applies to water-based polyurethane products. The RUST-OLEUM 200231 Paint is a product from a reputable brand known for its quality. If that’s what you are looking for, this could be the product you need.

If you are renovating, this might also just be what you need to give your floor a completely new look. It enhances the natural or initial color of the wood used and even makes it look sparkling new after many years of use. Besides, unlike other products, this one does not fade with time to leave that bad yellowish hue as is the case with other products.

Other great features of this product include resistance to scratch, it is ecofriendly, and it is a durable finish that you can trust to give your floor a nice appearance for long. It is also easy to use, and is a perfect option if you want a reliable finish. Indeed, it is one of those products that have been used in the market for long and its reliability tested.

You can get RUST-OLEUM 200231 Paint in five forms but all are good and meant to meet your needs. The five forms are namely: gloss, semi-gloss, transparent, and satin finish. All these forms dry up quickly and are stain-resistant. Provided you have applied it correctly, you won’t again worry about floor looking bad, faded, or worn out.


  • Highly durable and with proven resistance to stains.
  • Comes in various forms to meet your various needs.
  • Dries up quickly and helps maintain the natural color of the wood used in your floor.


  • It is a good water-based polyurethane for floors but it is explicitly meant for use in interiors only. It might not help you if you want to extend it outdoors on the verandah and other parts. For protecting outdoor wood furniture, refer to this article of mine.

#3: Bona Mega Wood Floor Finish Satin 1 Gallon – Best Water-Based Polyurethane for Beginners

Sometimes we want to make quick renovations to floors without making it obvious to visitors that there were improvements done hurriedly before they arrived. One product that might be of great help in such instances is the Bona Mega Wood Floor Finish Satin 1 Gallon. Its application to wood enhances its appearance faster. It dries up quickly, and if applied early in the morning, the floor will be completely dried up in the afternoon and ready for use.

With the Bona Mega brand, you simply have many options that you can choose from depending on your needs. More specifically, it comes in three options namely gloss, semi-gloss, and satin. Also, mixing it is not difficult as is the case with some products that have to be stirred up first before use. For Bona, that is not the case since its formula is oxygen crosslinking one-part polyurethane. Due to this unique formula, mixing is not the only easy thing. The product is also safe and without any strong odor that can cause any serious allergic reaction.

As a potential buyer of this product, you should note that this could also be a perfect option if you want to get a product that you can apply it yourself without having to hire a pro. Bona is an easy-to-use finish, and you can keep it for long in case you do not want to apply it immediately to your home or office. Finally, it is worth noting that this is a top-rated product with amazing positive reviews. With it, you are sure of getting the best results provided you apply it on a clean and dry surface.


  • Its natural wood color enhances the appearance of the hardwood on your floor
  • It is available in both gloss and semi-gloss options to meet the needs of users
  • It has exceptional flow, leveling as well as build property


  • You might have to coat your floor, at least, two times for a perfect appearance

#4: ZAR 32512 Aqua Water-Based Polyurethane – Best Budget

If you have exotic wood such as Tiger-wood, Bolivian rosewood, and Gaboon Ebony and you need a perfect finish that will enhance the appearance of these kinds of wood; ZAR 32512 Aqua Water-Based Polyurethane might be what you just need. It is a great option made specifically for interior wooden surfaces only. If applied correctly, and on a well-prepared surface, this finish produces an elegant luster.

This kind of finish is also a perfect option if you want a non-yellowing effect on the interior surfaces. Besides, it not only enhances the appearance but also protects your floor from abrasion, scuff and any scratches especially if you keep pets at home. This property is enhanced by the fact that it resists household chemicals that can cause any kind of damage to your flooring.

Being a leading product in the market and manufactured by a reputable brand, this product adheres to all VOC regulations. It is also an environmentally friendly option and is the best choice if you want to give your floor an appealing hue especially on light-colored or white floors. It also dries up quickly, and you do not have to wait for long to see the results.


  • A perfect finish for removing light-colored stains on hardwood flooring
  • Can be used both for interior vertical as well as horizontal surfaces


  • You may have to use a gas mask while applying as it produces fumes or vapor that can be harmful to your health.

Easy Steps- How to Apply Water Based Polyurethane Correctly

Applying water-based polyurethane is an easy task for professional woodworkers but for a beginner or just a hobbyist, it can be a hassle. However, that doesn’t in any way imply that the work wholly belongs to professionals alone. Anyone can do it perfectly. If you want to give it a try, you only need to learn how to do it correctly. Here are useful tips that can help you, so you not only complete the job but also do it correctly:

  • Step#1: Clean Dirt and Dust from the Floor First

Hardwood flooring often attracts lots of dust and dirt. If you allow it to settle on the floor and apply the finish without cleaning, the final product might not be that impressive for you. Also, after cleaning the floor, open all windows and ventilation spaces to allow as much air as possible to the room. A clean and well-ventilated area makes work easier and the results will also be excellent.

  • Step#2: Stir the Product Carefully and Well before Use

Get this! It is stirring and not shaking as it is the case when applying other types of products. Just before you start to apply, make sure that the water-based polyurethane product that you want to apply is even. That shouldn’t be a challenge in any way as you just need a dry stick that can help you stir it nicely.

  • Step#3: Apply Thinner, Even Coats

The final finish that you will achieve depends much on how you apply the product to your floor. One way, to give it a perfect look is to apply thinner coats and ensure that the floor is flat. What this implies is that you should avoid all kinds of drips or minimize it if you cannot avoid it altogether. You, of course, do not want to have blemishes. Therefore, apply even coats, and you won’t have any.

  • Step#4: Check for and Correct Any Imperfections

After applying the finish, you should do, at least, two rounds of checks to make sure that there are no mistakes or areas left. You should, therefore, take the time when doing this work as hurrying can lead you to imperfection. Fortunately, you can avoid it if you plan well. If it is a hobby, do it over the weekend when you have enough time and not in the evenings.

  • Step#5: Give It Sufficient Time to Dry

Although water-based polyurethane for floors tends to dry faster, you should make sure that sufficient time is given to it. You can’t apply it today and you want to have the floor used the next day especially if it is a home with high traffic. Allow it to dry up well, and you will enjoy a good look as well as great durability.

As you have already noted, the process of applying water-based polyurethane for floors isn’t technical or complicated. What you simply need is the readiness to plan well and get sufficient time to do the work. Most importantly, you should get the best product and prepare the floor well before applying it. That’s all you need to have great-looking durable hardwood flooring in your home or office.

Benefits of Applying Water-Based Over Oily-Based Polyurethane

One common question and many buyers often ask is why should I apply water-based polyurethane and not an oil-based type? Well, while both serve the same purpose, there are differences worth noting. Precisely, it is more beneficial to apply water-based type as you’ll see in this section.

  • Contains Little Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

First, unlike oil-based type, water-based polyurethane contains little or no volatile organic compounds. It is, therefore, a perfect option if you have breathing problems such as asthma and would like to use a safe product. Moreover, you should note that oil-based polyurethane can be toxic especially if the VOCs are beyond the recommended levels.

  • Little or No Odor

Another benefit of applying water-based polyurethane is the fact that it has little or no odor at all hence you don’t have to worry about allergic reactions. Oil-based on the other hand, tend to have some odors hence they might not be the best especially for application on interior surfaces. So if an allergy to odor is a problem, the water-based finish is your best bet.

  • A Few Coats for Perfect Appearance

With less than three coats, you can easily achieve a perfect finish with water-based polyurethane hence it is a low-budget option since you’ll most likely apply little amount. On the other hand, oil-based finishes might cost you more since you’ll have to apply more than three coats to achieve a perfect finish.

  • Easy to Clean

When it comes to cleaning, water-based polyurethane is easy to clean, and you do not need any special cleaning agent. With just soap and water, you are sure that all dust and dirt will be completely removed. On the other hand, removing dirt and dust from a surface coated with oil-based polyurethane can be a bit difficult. You can only do so if you have the recommended cleaning agents for such surfaces.

  • Dries Up Within a Few Hours

One other advantage of using a good water-based polyurethane for floors is the fact that it easily dries up within a few hours. You can apply it in the morning and by afternoon, the floor is ready. For oil-based polyurethane, that might not be the case. For instance, some oil-based polyurethane can take even up to five days to dry up completely. Water-based finishes are, therefore, a quick and effective remedy especially when doing speedy renovations.

Indeed, you have all the reasons to consider using water-based polyurethane if you want to add a new look at the hardwood flooring of your home/office. You don’t have to blow your bank, and it is a quick remedy as well. Most importantly, it is environmentally friendly, and you won’t complain about odor or allergic reactions. You can also apply it yourself without having to hire a professional to do the job for you.

Things to Check before Purchasing a Good Water-Based Polyurethane for Floors

Shopping for water-based polyurethane is never an easy task. You have to go about it carefully if you want to get the best among the options that you’ll find in the market. It, therefore, calls for a guide to help you sieve options until you get one that fully meets your needs. Here are a couple of factors that you ought to check when purchasing water-based polyurethane:

  • Application Method

Different water-based polyurethane finishes have different methods of application. Some are applied as sprays, others as wipe-on, and many are usually applied using a paintbrush. Each of these types has its benefits and drawbacks. For instance, spays require a mask to keep you from inhaling fumes. Wipe-on also takes time to apply. Brush-on thus remains as the best option as it takes less time to have the job done.

  • Durability

Some finishes can last for as long as ten years if the surfaces they are applied on are not high traffic. Others last fewer years even in such areas. It is, therefore, very vital to check this aspect when choosing what type of finish you ought to buy from the market. Also, you ought to go for those that can be used in the initial application and can last for many years before you can think of re-applying another coat.

  • Where Do You Want To Apply It?

As already shown in the product review section, some finishes are meant to be used on the interiors only while others are usable both in the interior as well as exterior surfaces. You should thus be keen when buying a finish, so you do not end up buying an exterior type when you need one for use in the interior.

  • Forms Available

Generally, water-based polyurethanes are available as gloss, semi-gloss, satin, and transparent forms. Well, while there are slight differences from each other, there is nothing to worry much about them as they serve the same purpose. You can, therefore, pick any of these options randomly or as a matter of personal preference. In case you want specific features, you can always ask a pro to help you, so you make the right decision.

  • Budget

Everything revolves around a budget and apart from this being an aspect that is determined by the buyer, the price tag on the product also suggests its quality. Usually, high-quality products often sell higher compared to others. This should thus be an important thing for you to check as a buyer especially if you want a durable product. Simply set aside enough amounts of money, and you’ll get the best.

With these key factors on the mind, you will easily and without much hassle find the best water-based polyurethane finish for your home or office. You do not need just a finish but one that can last for many years but also enhance the appearance of your hardwood flooring.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When Should I Apply a Water-Based Polyurethane Finish on My Floor?

You can apply it to newly installed flooring and after three years if your home/office experiences high traffic. The period can go longer than that for low traffic areas.

  • How Long Does It Take for a Water-Based Polyurethane Finish to Dry Up?

It all depends on the type you are using but it should be a few hours and not more than a day in most cases

  • Can I Use Water-Based Polyurethane to Cover Scratches and Flaws on My Floor?

You can use it if the scratches are small but for big ones, you may have to repair it first

Take-Home Point

Finding the best water-based polyurethane for your hardwood flooring at home or office is a process that can be quite challenging. Fortunately, with this complete guide with the best options as well as a buying guide, it should not be challenging anymore. With it, you are ready to shop and rest assured of finding the best water-based polyurethane finish. After that, you can choose one of the top brush for polyurethane here.

Interested in finding a good spray paint for your wood furniture? Check out this guide for our recommendation products.


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