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Choosing the Best Finish for Your Pine Floorboards

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You've got your floorboards sanded, but how do you decide what finish offers the best protection for your new pine floors? Pine is a soft wood and this should be taken into consideration when choosing the finish. Pine floorboards aren't as durable as hardwood floors, but they can certainly look great and last for several years if they are given the correct type of protective finish.

If you've stripped back the pine floorboards in a high-traffic area of your house such as the hallway or living room, you'll need a finishing material that offers a high level of protection, is water-resistant and easy to maintain. You can give pine floorboards in low-traffic areas such as the bedroom a more natural, country cottage style finish without worrying about how it will cope with wet shoes and scratches from the small stones that get brought into the house on the bottom of your shoes. Here's an overview of two finishing options for pine floors:


Polyurethane floor finish is a type of liquid plastic that's hardwearing, water-resistant and easy to apply to sanded floorboards. It's a surface finish rather than a penetrating finish, so you can't apply wax on top of it as the wax will simply sit there and not be absorbed. However, floors finished with polyurethane can be vacuumed and cleaned with a damp mop, so they're easy to maintain, but if you damage your flooring you'll need to sand down and recoat the entire floor as polyurethane isn't easy to touch up. There are two types of polyurethane finishes, water-based and oil-based, for you to consider.

Water-based polyurethane is odourless and gives a clear finish, so it's a good choice if you want to preserve the natural look of the pine boards. It won't hide any marks in the wood, so if you'd like a distressed look opt for water-based polyurethane. This finishing option is a little more expensive than oil-based polyurethane as you need to apply more coats to achieve the same level of protection.

Oil-based Polyurethane gives your floor a soft amber glow, and if you choose a satin finish oil-based polyurethane it will hide light scratches and defects in the wood. This finish also gives the floor a smoother, more polished feel than its water-based counterpart, but it takes longer to dry and emits high levels of volatile organic compounds, so it's best to keep your family out of the house while finishing your floors with oil-based Polyurethane.

Hard Wax Oil

Hard wax oil is a durable finish that combines a protective wax such as carnauba wax with natural oils such as linseed. It's as easy to apply with a brush or roller as polyurethane, but it penetrates deep into the wood, giving it a nourished look. It's also easy to repair damaged areas of your floor with this finish as you simply need to lightly sand the area and reapply the hard wax oil to the affected area.

It doesn't release volatile organic compounds, but it's not a good option for use in rooms with high humidity as this can compromise the performance of the wax. You can clean floors finished with hard wax oil with a damp cloth, but you must buff it dry afterwards. Additionally, this type of finish requires periodic polishing to remove small scratches and maintain its appearance, so although it's durable, it may not be the best choice in high-traffic areas of your home.

When deciding on the finish for your pine floors consider the impact of pets and small children running through your home and opt for a finish that can withstand your family's daily life. Learn more about your options through companies like MI Floor Sanding.