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Reasons To Opt for Water-Based Floor Stains Than Oil-Based Finishes


Many homeowners find the warmth and appearance of hardwood floors alluring. At the same time, there is a need to apply multiple coats of polyurethane finish to enhance the floor’s appearance and protection. The coating’s drying time depends on the type of finish used: water-based or oil-based floor stains.

These stain variants come with significant differences, which you need to consider when selecting the right coating option. Oil-based finishes were previously the gold standard before the introduction of water-based products. The latter has since undergone considerable improvements to make the products more eco-friendly, safer, and efficient. As a result, water-based coatings became the most popular option for homeowners.

Here are the benefits of water-based finishes.


By opting for a water-based coating, you benefit from superior abrasion resistance. Manufacturers add advanced binders and additives to the stains to ensure durability. These improvements helped water-based stains match the durability of oil-based finishes. Premium grades offered by various brands provide maximum abrasion resistance, enabling the coating to last for up to 10 years.

Drying time

Water-based products have a shorter drying time because they are thinner. This advantage allows you to apply multiple coats in a single day. After applying the final coat, the stain dries after four to six hours. You can resume your day-to-day activities in the room on the same day.

Conversely, a single layer of oil-based variants takes up to 12 hours to dry. Furthermore, you need to wait for at least 24 hours after applying the final layer. You cannot walk over the finish for several days, which is a significant downside for most homeowners.

Eco-friendly and safer

Most people associate flooring finishes with strong fumes during the application phase. Thankfully, water-based stains do not emit noxious fumes, which can be hazardous to humans and pets’ health. Oil-based variants emit odors due to the presence of petroleum-based substances like ethylene glycol and benzene. They make the air in the rooms toxic for 24 hours after applying the final layer.

The absence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in water-based products makes the finishes environmentally friendly and safe for your family. These products are made of plant-based substances. Unlike oil-based finishes, water-based stains are not flammable.

The clear coat of water-based finishes enriches your floors’ appearance by maintaining the original color and appeal of wood. It accentuates the grain of the hardwood flooring. In contrast, oil-based stains transform the color to a darker tone before turning to a yellowish amber tone due to ultraviolet (UV) exposure.

Final thoughts

Although oil-based products are significantly cheaper than water-based finishes, they come with several disadvantages. It is no surprise that most buyers go for water-based finishes. By buying water-based stains, you minimize the inconvenience associated with longer drying times.

At the same time, oil-based finishes do not provide maximum protection against all damage despite coat thickness. This variant is softer than water-based stains. Hence, it is better to opt for the latter when looking to maximize hardwood floor protection and durability.