Choosing the Right Finish for Your Hardwood Flooring

We all love choices. They make it so we can get exactly what we want, how we want it. But sometimes there are too many choices. Much like heading to the gum isle and being suddenly overwhelmed at the number of choices there, it can quickly turn from, ‘I’m getting what I want’, to, ‘which one should I choose?’ This is especially true when building or renovating your home, whether you’re a DIYer or someone who prefers to hire out to the professionals.

Hardwood is one of those choices that just seems to open a new can of worms. For many customers, the choices get overwhelming – what kind of wood? Engineered or solid? What about plank width and length? And, finally, what kind of finish should you use?

At BC Hardwood, we want to help you find the right answers,so that we can give you the ideal hardwood flooring solution.

Prefinished or Unfinished Hardwood Flooring Options

The first step in hardwood finishing? Determine whether or not you want prefinished or unfinished planks.

Prefinished, or factory-finished hardwood shows up at your home with a finish already applied to the wood – that means once installation is complete, your floor is ready to walk on. This makes it perfect for DIYers who don’t want to deal with the extra step of site finishing or dry-times.

Unfinished or site-finished hardwood gives you, the homeowner the ability to select both the perfect color for the light in your home or business, and select the type of finish and sheen level of the floor.

The Main Choices in Hardwood Finishes

At BC Hardwood we offer both prefinished and site-finished hardwood of the highest quality, along with sanding and hardwood floor refinishing services. There are typically three types of finishes for hardwood: oil based, water based, and conversion varnish. We offer oil and water based finishes both on pre-finished and site-finished products. Conversion varnish, however, is only offered on site-finished products.

In each of the categories, customers can specify whether they want a matte or high-sheen finish. Whether you want matte or high sheen is simply a matter of taste. However, choosing oil-based, water-based, or conversion varnish is a more complex decision, and should be made from an educated position.

Refinishing Your Hardwood Flooring

Though refinishing may seem like a simple job, many DIYers get too aggressive with the sanding, shortening the lifespan of their hardwood. At BC Flooring we offer multiple refinishing methods that won’t degrade the life of your hardwood.

Whether water-based, oil-based, or conversion a professional refinisher is you key to hardwood that looks as good as it did the day it was installed.

Oil Based Hardwood Floor Finishing

Oil finishes can help achieve some very rich, deep colours that are more complex than other, simpler stains. Oil based finishing achieves this lustrous look through a single-process system, meaning that the same product supplies both the finish, and the colour. With just one coat,  we can achieve color palettes with a more low sheen look.

Pros of Oil Based Finishing:

  • Rich, deep colours
  • Complex palettes with layers
  • Easily touched up
  • Made from Vegetable oil, most environmentally friendly option

However, oil-based finishes do require more maintenance, but it is easier to maintain.Every so often, in order to protect the wood, a fresh coat of oil finish will need to be applied in order to keep that deep, rich colour looking great. We simply buff in the oil, no sanding required!

Cons of Oil Based Finishing:

  • Usually requires more touch ups
  • No medium or high sheen options

Water Based Floor Finishing

Unlike an oil-based finish, a water based finish is a two-part system. First, the stain is applied, infusing the wood with the desired colour. Then, a finish is applied over top, giving it a semi gloss, satin or matte finish, along with sealing and protecting the hardwood.

Pros of Water Based Finishing:

  • Lasts longer than oil based finishes
  • Requires less maintenance and touch ups
  • Low in VOC (environmentally friendly “hard” finish)

But, water based finishing doesn’t produce as rich of a colour as an oil based finish gives. However, they are low in VOCs (volatile organic compound), meaning they’re your best option for a hard finish in an apartment or other setting where neighbours are close by. Although water-based finishes need less maintenance, they still do need to be refinished from time to time to keep them looking good.

Cons of Water Based Finishing:

  • They don’t produce as much range in colour options as oil based finishing does
  • More labour-intensive as it requires first the stain, then the sealant

Conversion Varnish

Glitsa is the toughest finish BC Hardwood provides, and is offered as a site-applied finish for unfinished hardwood.

Pros of Conversion Varnish

  • Little maintenance required
  • Acts as a magnifying glass bringing out depth of colors

The greatest benefit of using Glitsa, is that it’s an apply and forget system. It requires very little maintenance – perfect for those who want ease of use, as well as durability with their hardwood flooring. However, conversion varnish is not an option when buying pre-finished hardwood.

Cons of Conversion Varnish

  • Harsh smells during application
  • Not DIY friendly

So what’s the Best Flooring Finish Option for You?

We’ve given you the information, but in the end the answer is always up to you – your budget, your taste, and proximity to neighbours. But, if you’re still stuck on your decision, give B.C. Hardwood a call a call and we can help you tease out the subtleties and finish your hardwood to a professional level so you’re happy with your flooring for years to come.