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Which are the best Polyurethane brands for floors? Which do I recommend?

Brands of Polyurethane that I highly recommend

Best polyurethane brands - reviews of polyurethane brands. Most durable water based and oil brands

When it comes to sanding and refinishing your hardwood floors, there are 2 main components: 1) The quality of the workmanship and 2) the quality of the materials (i.e. the polyurethane). In this article, I’m going to discuss the highest grade polyurethanes. The polyurethane is the coating that gives your floor its protection. Generally, you would want to add 3 coats of polyurethane for the best longevity.


Best brands of polyurethane for your floorsThe brand of polyurethane will have a huge impact on how your floors look as well as how long they last. There are two main forms of polyurethane – oil based and water borne poly. You can read more about them in this article: Oil based vs water borne polyurethane. I’m going to share the best poly brands for both forms. This article also provides links so that you can check out the products further and even purchase them online.


This article is outlined as follows:

  • Best brands of water borne polyurethane
  • Best brands of oil based polyurethane
  • Brands of polyurethane I’d stay away from
  • Quick Comparison Guide on Water based vs Oil Based Polyurethane (pros and cons)

Please note that this article may contain affiliate links.  You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.


Best water based polyurethane brands for hardwood floors in October, 2019

1. Bona Traffic HD (High grade) best polyurethane for floors


2. Loba 2K Supra (High grade) best polyurethane review


3. Street Shoe (Med-high grade) best polyurethane for hardwood floors


4. Bona Mega (Mid grade) best polyurethane



Best oil based polyurethane brands for hardwood floors in October, 2019

1. Duraseal oil (high grade) most durable hardwood floor finish


2. Fabulon (med high grade)  


3. Lenmar (medium grade) best polyurethane for floors


Water borne polyurethane Recommendations:

Bona Traffic HD

best brands of polyurethane for hardwood flooringBona Traffic HD (Heavy Duty) is hands down the best water borne polyurethane on the market.  It has the highest durability and is considered commercial grade which means it’s great for busy restaurants and retail stores, and will certainly hold up in your residential home.  Bona Traffic definitely costs more, but it is worth it.  If you ask almost any experienced flooring professional, they will agree.

hardwood floor polyurethane brands



best polyurthane that avoids the bad smellBona Traffic is a 2 part product.  It comes with a hardener that you mix in, so it becomes very hard and durable. It has a contemporary and upscale look as it doesn’t have the yellow glow that you see in oil based polyurethane.  And, compared to other water borne polyies, it just looks cleaner and more natural.


Bona Traffic is the best product for gray and white wash stains, as well as maple as it amberizes (or yellows) the least vs any other product.  Also, if you want your oak floors to be as light as possible (and the least yellow), this is the best option.


In addition, Bona Traffic is environmentally friendly.  It has very low VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) – less than 150.  It has low odor.  It’s GreenGuard certified meaning it’s safe for children and pets and it’s school certified.

best brands of polyurethane for hardwood floors


What’s the difference between Bona Traffic and Bona Traffic HD?

Often the terms Bona Traffic and Bona Traffic HD are used interchangeably (I often catch myself doing this, especially when I’m speaking with a customer).  Bona Traffic HD is a little better than the original Bona Traffic.  It costs a bit more, but it’s not a significant difference in price.  And, I will say that both are top-notch options.


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Here are the benefits of Bona Traffic HD (vs original Bona Traffic):

  • Lower odor
  • Slightly lower VOCs (Bona Traffic is 150 VOCs and Bona Traffic HD is <125 VOCs)
  • It dries and cures a bit faster, especially over the the 1st 24-48 hours.  (This can be a big benefit for households with dogs as well as those in a rush to move into a new home as the movers are less likely to scratch the floors).


You can learn a bit more in this video on Bona Traffic vs Bona Traffic HD


Bona Traffic is available in semi gloss, satin and extra matte finishes.

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StreetShoe Polyurethane

StreetShoe would be my 2nd choice water borne polyurethane.  It used to be the gold standard (and we used to use it) until Bona Traffic came along.  It’s a strong polyurethane and last much longer than virtually all water based polyurethanes on the market.  It costs a bit less than Bona Traffic (and more than your basic polyurethanes) as it’s a higher grade.

Streetshoe - one of the best brands of polyurethane for hardwoods


Bona Mega

Bona Mega is a mid grade water borne polyurethane. We use this when our customers want (or are required by their co-op) to use water borne poly, but their budget won’t accommodate Bona Traffic. It’s a good water borne poly. There are certainly better ones out there (see above), but there are certainly many many lower grade ones out there.

Bona Mega polyurethane


Generally, if you are getting a much lower price on refinishing using a water borne poly, chances are the installer is using an inferior water borne product. See below for some polyurethanes that are lower grade and I would try to avoid.


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Oil based polyurethane Recommendations:

Duraseal oil based polyurethane

We recently switched to Duraseal for oil based poly. Duraseal recently reformulated so it’s harder and has the best durability among oil based polyurethanes. It doesn’t react or peel and it has low VOCs (compared to other oil based poly).


best brands of oil based polyurethane


Duraseal comes in 5 gallon buckets or 1 gallon cans.



Fabulon oil based polyurethane

Fabulon would be my 2nd choice oil based poly. We used to use this, and it’s a good brand. But, as they and Duraseal recently reformulated, we found Duraseal to be superior.

best brands of oil based polyurethane for hardwood floors


Polyurethane Brands I would avoid:

best brands of polyurethane according to the prosGenerally, if you are getting a much lower price on refinishing (while comparing the same type of poly (i.e. water or oil) and same scope of work, chances are the installer is using an inferior polyurethane. 


Aside from scope of work (i.e. area to be done, stain vs natural, # coats poly, furniture move, carpet rip up, etc.) there are basically 2 components that go into the price:  1) workmanship/skill of labor and 2) grade of polyurethane.  And, often, these 2 go hand in hand – lower skilled workers tend to use inferior polyurethanes (both to cheapen their cost, and they may not have easy access to/knowledge of the higher grades of polyurethane.  A higher skilled refinisher cares about the quality of the polyurethane and its durability.  They rely on repeat on referral business.



Here are some polyurethane brands I wouldn’t use:

  • Minwax (Minwax is fine for stains, although I prefer Duraseal over Minwax for stains.  I would not recommend Minwax for polyurethane)
  • Absco
  • Last N’ Last (and don’t be fooled by their supposed “15 year warranty.”  If you read it, you’ll see that it doesn’t really cover anything.
  • Anything really cheap…you get what you pay for.


Frequently asked questions about polyurethane, floors and steps

What is the best polyurethane for stairs?d

You would use the same brand and type of polyurethane for you steps as the res of the floors.  The best and most durable finish for water based polyurethane is Bona Traffic HD and for oil based poly, Duraseal. 


The steps generally get the most traffic and wear and tear (along with hallways), so it’s even more important to have a high grade finish in these areas.


How many coats of polyurethane should you put on the steps?

Generally, I would recommend 3 coats of polyurethane to protect your steps as they are high traffic areas.  However, if you are planning to add a carpet runner on top, then 2 coats of poly can suffice.


Does Polyurethane make your steps slippery?

Generally, no, unless the polyurethane is applied improperly.  Contrary to what some believe, the finish sheen (semi gloss, satin, or matte) does not make a difference. This is a false perception.  But steps can be slippery due to their nature.  There are 2 main things that can reduce the slip resistance:

  • most durable finish for stairs and floors; anti-slip resistantBona Traffic HD has an anti-slip line which is a bit less slippery (as it has some more grit.  It costs a few dollars more, but worth it if you are concerned.


  • Add a carpet runner to your steps. This is great for safety, noise reduction as well as home decor. They are especially helpful if you have dogs, toddlers or old members of the family.


Of course, adjusting your shoe wear can also help (e.g.wear slippers with some traction rather than socks.


What is polyurethane?

Polyurethane is an elastic polymer that creates a protective barrier between the external environment and wood.  It protects the wood spills, oils (from your feet), dirt and variety of other things.


Polyurethanes are versatile, modern and safe.  They come in a variety of forms such as insulation, furniture cushioning, carpet padding, mattresses, liquid coatings, adhesives, shoe soles and many more items.  As it relates to hardwood floors, polyurethane comes in a liquid form, and later hardens and cures over time for a durable finish.



Comparison on Water Borne Polyurethane vs Oil Based Polyurethane (Pros and Cons):

water vs oil based polyurethane comparison chart


Complementary products that will prolong the life of your hardwood floors


Color consultation for Westchester County


Other useful articles on Polyurethane:


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148 thoughts on “Which are the best Polyurethane brands for floors? Which do I recommend?”

    1. HI, I’m wanting to put oil urethane on a new wide pine floor. It appears my best options in my area are Lenmar, which I can get by the gallon at a reasonable price, and masterline which I can only get in quarts and which is much more expensive. Then the Zar line is also an option. Am I correct in that the Lenmar would be my best choice?? Thank you for your quickest reply!!

  1. Chuck Cochrane

    I’ve heard that Bona Traffic is nearly impossible to apply correctly unless you’ve had training on how to do it. I’m a DIYer and am looking for a solid performer that I’ll be able to apply.

    1. Hi Chuck. Yes, all water borne polyurethanes are more challenging for DIYers. That’s because they are thinner and therefore can show mistakes/imperfections in the sanding underneath. I know some DIYers have had success with this. If you are doing water borne poly, use Bona Traffic. If you are concerned about your sanding skills, you may want to reconsider and hire a professional or use an oil based poly, in which case I would recommend Duraseal.

  2. Hi, I’m trying to match to the same oil based poly your company used when refinishing our floors. We recently remodeled and found that the satin finish looks different between rooms so I’m curious if Fabulon or Duraseal were used in August, 2013? Thank you!!

    1. Steven – Most likely if it was 2013, it was Fabulon. But, no matter what you do, when things are done 4 years later, it often won’t look exactly the same (due to aging and wear).

  3. The contractor I want to use just did samples on our floor. He likes last n last oil n h2o finish. We have a Bruce prefinished natural maple floor that we are staining darker with duraseal Jacobean. He said this gives a richer color to the wood and it already has a hardner. I know you do not recommend last n last but was that just for there full waterborne line? Or just oil? When I mentioned Bona traffic he said people have to add a hardner to it.

    1. Bona Traffic comes with a hardener. It is way better than Last n Last. Bona Traffic is very high quality and Last n Last is very low quality. There is no contest in terms of durability. Bona Traffic will cost you more (and that may be his hesitation…and/or he didn’t budget for it). But, if you want to do water, use Bona. If you want to do oil use Duraseal. I hope that helps.
      (oh, and if you are doing dark stain on maple, oil is fine…it’s if you are doing natural that you need to use water (for looks). I

      1. Thanks for your quick reply. The product the refinisher was using for samples was LNL 700A (not polyurethane): Oil n H2O TechnologyLNL 700A Commercial Grade Oil n H2O Wood Floor Finish incorporates the latest Oil n H2O technology with Microban Antimicrobial protection, Aluminum Oxide and a 7-year Residential Wear Warranty for advanced protection on wood floors. Our unique Oil n H2O, 100% urethane technology. Is this also considered very low quality?

        1. The 7 year warranty is meaningless. Most of their prods have a 15 yr warranty. Again, it’s meaningless. Read the warranty. It doesn’t warrant against anything, including scratches. You will get scratches no matter what polyurethane you use and anyone who tells you differently is misleading you. In those products, you will probably get more scratches and sooner. Use a higher grade poly. And, make sure your refinisher knows what they are doing. That can make a huge difference, too. If they don’t sand the floors properly nothing will absorb and adhere properly.

  4. Sorry to bother you, another contractor gave us an estimate using Commercial grade General Finishes waterborne finish. How does that rank? He was significantly more expensive, because he upcharged for refinishing a prefinished floor and upcharged using the General Finish waterborne. Are those bad practices when estimating? That made me feel uneasy.

    1. Melissa – I’m not familiar with that product so I don’t know how well it ranks. Refinishing prefinished floors is certainly harder and more time consuming to do, so that is not abnormal.

  5. Hi, I’m currently looking to select a contractor to lay and finish nes hard wood floors (spotted gum). One of them had quoted Varathane® Water-based Floor Polyurethane. It is made by US company Rustoleum. Have you heard of this product? If so, does it compare to Bona?

  6. Hi, I plan on using Bona Traffic HD after a Duraseal Stain. I’ve seen several sites (including Bona) recommend first applying a water based sealer (e.g. BonaSeal) before applying 2-3 coats of Bona Traffic. I haven’t seen you mention this on your site (although I may have missed it) so wanted to get your thoughts. Thanks!

    1. Hi Thomas. If you are doing a stain, you don’t need the Bona Sealer…the stain acts as a sealer. So you could stain + 3 coats Bona Traffic or Stain = Bona Sealer + 2 coats Bona Traffic. Either way is fine. If you are doing natural (and I see that your aren’t in this case), then you would do Sealer + 2 coats Bona Traffic.

      You’re right that I didn’t mention it here, so soon when I have some time, I may add this info and/or write a new post on this. Thanks for the suggestion. (I just need more time to get to everything).

      1. Hello, I need help! We used Bona High traffic poly. We sanded the pre-existing floors down. We installed new hardwoods in other rooms. We used minwax stain. We allowed the stain to dry for a week to a week and a half with the house set at 68-70. (We weren’t living in our house)
        We applied Bona with the Bona tool. Waited 6 hours and put the second coat on. We have peeling floors. What did we do wrong? How do we fix this. Some spots are fine and some places are horrible.
        We used Bona non skid poly on the stairs with no problem.
        We waited 3 weeks to move back because we didn’t want the floors to scratch.

        1. This sounds like the floors weren’t properly sanded. Therefore, the stain and poly did not adhere. You may want to hire a professional to resand the floors and do it properly. Also, I would not use minwax for the stain. Use duraseal instead. That’s what professionals use. It dries faster and goes down more evenly.

          I’m wondering if you did this yourself. If so, there could be many issues in addition to not sanding properly. You may have added too much stain or too much poly, not applied properly.

          But, given where you’re at now, it sounds like the floors need to sanded down again. If you don’t have the proper equipment (and you need 5 machines), right grits, proper technique, it will not come out well. Hire a professional.

  7. Hi-We are looking to have our wood floors refinished. I have gotten a few quotes. Only 1 company uses Bona the others use Absco. I se that you don’t recommend Absco. Could you tell me what the pitfalls are of using this product? We are using water based with a stain. Thanks Hollie

    1. Absco is low quality. It’s a cheaper polyurethane. It’s not very durable, it smells more and takes much longer to dry. Also, contractors that use this tend to be low end…and hence often rush through the job and don’t sand properly. I’ve also heard of customers complaining that the smell from this polyurethane permeates throughout the house including into their laundry area and clothes. It also tends to bubble more. But, I’m not sure if that is because it’s low quality or it’s low quality installers not applying properly.

  8. Hi – I am building a new home with 6″ White Oak Rift and Quartered in 3-10′ plank lengths throughout the entire house. It will be a very high traffic home. instpiration was the st. louis Art Museum floors with the same wood and WOCA white oil finish. looks very light and natural. I am trying to create the same look (may not use any stain) but I do not think that there are many installers that do an oil finish locally (bergen county) or that know about the maintenance. I have been searching for information to help me make the best choice for what will be the most durable finish. you like the Bona TRaffic HD the best? any other useful info or questoins that i should be asking my installer? i want a really durable finish that will resist showing scratches or stains as much as possible.

    1. Leah – Yes, there probably aren’t many in your area that use this type of finish, but there probably are a few. Check out the higher end ones as they are more likely to and would have more experience. If you want regular polyurethane, then Bona Traffic HD would be your best bet for strongest finish and to get closer to oiled wood floors. Note that if you do oiled wood floor, it will prob be closer to your look and you can easily touch up scratches, etc, but it does require a lot more maintenance. I hope that helps.

  9. Courtney Conklin

    Hey! I have really loved reading your blogs! Very helpful! I love out in the middle of nowhere and have no choice but to try and redo the floors my self so I have been researching like a mad woman. I’m really not sure what type of wood they are. When I cleaned all the glue off the floors look absolutely beautiful. I have a picture but I’m not sure how to share it where you can see it. Anyway I’m trying to figure out what finish I should use. Water or oil based. Any advice would be much appreciated!!

    1. Hi Courtney. Sorry for the delayed response. It’s been a crazy busy couple of weeks. Unfortunately I don’t have a way for you to upload a photo. Maybe go to hardwoodflooringtalk.com as I think they have a way for you to upload a photo.

    1. I’d say duraseal is a bit better. Bona specializes in water borne. An installer I know is currently testing it. He says it looks good, but no info yet on durability. I’d say you’re safer with Duraseal.

  10. We own a local moving company in Phoenix, AZ. The floors are for our moving trucks. WeI use Birch plywood with hidden fasteners. It takes about 8 to 10 coats to accomplish our needs.
    We have used the best products that the big box stores offer but now I’m looking for a basketball court/bowling ally type product. Needs to stand up to UV, weather and hard use. It needs to be slippery and durable yet flexible enough to withstand the road conditions as well. I am being directed towards the product “Buckeye – Coliseum 450”. It’s a professional product and I have access to purchase. Can you comment on this product and would you still recommend Duraseal for my application?
    Thank You,
    Lynnette –

    1. Hi Lynette. First, as you are a contractor, you probably already know that almost all items offered in big box stores are inferior. They cater to a cheaper DIY audience that generally has lower budget and lower standards. I have now seen this in virtually every category on the contracting side from hardwood, carpeting, paint, plywood, plumbing supplies, kitchen cabinets, countertops, tile, marble, etc.

      I would just advise you to avoid those and buy from a specialist store.

      I’m not familiar with the product you mentioned. I just looked it up and it’s oil modified and in general oil modified or water modified don’t hold up as well as Bona traffic HD nor Duraseal oil. But, I am making a general statement.

      Also, bear in mind that I’m not sure ANY product will be able to meet all of your criteria. Wood is a natural product and it wears down.

      Bona Traffic is what’s typically used over maple for gym floors, BTW.

      Water based products will cure faster, but have less UV protection. There are some new UV products on the market place, but they are very expensive and require additional equipment and there doesn’t seem to be durability data out there.

      If I were you, I would probably call the tech departments of both companies and get their POV on all of your criteria.

  11. I’m having difficulty finding Duraseal in Canada (Quebec). Duraseal has a sister company, Masterline, which makes commercial grade oil-based polyurethane floor finishes. Do you know of this product?

    1. Eric – Sorry that dura seal isn’t readily available in Canada. Did you try Amazon? If you follow my link on here, it will helpfully take you to the right place. If not, try searching within Amazon.ca. I haven’t used Masterline. I would call the company to see if it’s the same thing (not sure what sister company truly means and whether it’s the same formula. It may be that there are different restrictions in Canada or US.

  12. What’s wrong with Minwax water poly? I’m refinishing my floors in the very near future, and that seems to be the only kind available anywhere remotely close to me.

  13. I’ve got white oak wood floors which are over 100 years old. Some new red oak flooring was installed in some rooms about 20 years ago. We are now sanding and refinishing the floors in the whole house. We are using Duraseal Neutral stain and the installer had planned to use 4 coats of Duraseal Waterbased Polyurethane (not Duraclear or Duraclear Max) as the finish. The Duraseal Waterbased Poly has an amber finish which would help make the floors look like they previously. I’d like to get the longest-lasting, most durable finish that I can. Your blog and other feedback I’ve gotten have recommended Bona Traffic. But the Bona Traffic finish is clear. Is it possible to put one coat of Duraseal Waterbased Polyurethane down in order to get the amber tone from the Duraseal and then three coats of the Bona Traffic over it to get the durability of the Bona? Also, I’ve been told that the Bona Traffic HD Satin has a flatter look than Bona Traffic Satin. Do you find that to be the case?

    1. Bona traffic actual has an option with amber as well. So, that would be better/stronger finish. Please be aware that if you have different species, they will continue to look different. It tends to be more noticeable when you go natural or light and moreso on water borne poly. I supposed you could test/alter the stain between the two species to try to bring them closer.

      1. Thank you for the response. Is the Bona AmberSeal the “option with amber” you are referring to? That’s the only reference to an amber finish I could find on the Bona website. Thanks!

  14. I have a very old (1840) wood kitchen floor that has been painted since we have owned it (35 years). I recently sanded it to smooth out dings, and repainted it in high quality satin oil paint (Benj Moore Sativo, satin finish) and will shortly splatter paint it with another oil paint, then lightly sand the finished work before I i seal it with a polyurethane. Since the flooring is pine with some “give” I wondered which brand of poly you recommend? Again, I want to seal the splatters and make the whole thing more durable as it is a kitchen. I am leaning toward Varathane products but would love your recommendation on which would give me the durability I seek with some “give” for the underlying paint and pine boards. Thanks so much!

    1. Judith – You should really talk to you paint store and/or call Benjamin Moore. I would never recommend using paint on hardwood floors as that pretty much ruins them as the paint soaks into the cracks. You will need to talk to the paint manufacturer to see which type and brand they’d recommend so that it doesn’t have a reaction with the paint and so it also adheres properly. It’s really a chemistry question. In addition, it depends what color you used and how the polyurethane works with it. If it’s white or very light, it’s likely that it will turn yellow. I would call Benjamin Moore’s tech department.

      All that aside, usually with pine like what you described, we would do an oil based poly (Duraseal). The thicker coat helps cover some of the gaps and imperfections, while a water borne poly shows it more. Also, the richer color of the oil based poly is more in line with what you typically see and expect from a home from that period.

  15. You have great advice and insight in your blog posts I think. I’m researching info for getting our fir floors refinished. We have a highly recommended floor guy lined up who does lots of high end homes in Boston area. He offered oil/water based poly choice and indicated, like you, that oil poly is better. Based on your advice we like the sound of that. He did mention one other drawback of water is that you can’t “spot fix” an area down the road and have to refinish large area. So, we are going with oil based.

    Question is, he uses Bona Woodline oil based. Didn’t give any choice on that. I see you recommend Duraseal after having previously used Fabulon. But there was one comment response where you said something about Bona oil maybe having changed recently. And I see you recommend Bona for water based so it must be a good company. Just wondering if you think Bona oil could be a good choice? This is going to be a big job so we don’t want to go through it twice.

    Thanks again for the great info!

    1. Fred – this is a new product, so it’s too soon to tell. Seems to be fine, but no feedback as to how durable/how long it lasts. I would probably do oil based for fir as it’s probably older and may have some imperfections/gaps, so you’ll get a thicker and smoother coat with oil based poly. It will also give you a rich look, which just “looks right” with that wood.

      BTW, you can’t really spot treat oil or water borne poly, but I suppose if you did, it would show less on oil based. You can spot treat oiled floors, but that is a totally different process and look and I wouldn’t recommend it for your floors (it’s more expensive and doesn’t protect your floors from water).

    1. Vimal – these are not polyurethanes and do not protect your floor from water. Some people love them because of the natural and authentic look. But, these are more expensive and more expensive and time consuming to maintain.

  16. Hi! We are currently refinishing our wood floors with a dark stain and plan on using an oil based poly. A neighbor recommended using Glitsa? Would recommend using DuraSeal over Glitsa? We just want to make sure we are using the best poly available.
    Thanks for your advice!

  17. Hi, Which Duraseal Oil poly would you recommend? The 350/450/550 VOC? I was reading oil poly with low VOC takes forever to dry and the smell lasts longer?

    1. Jes – These variations are due to state laws/regulations, so this depends on where you live. The higher the VOCs, the more durable it is, and it probably smells a bit more. I think here in NY, the limit is 350. I’m sorry that I don’t know the limits state by state.

  18. Thanks for the great info! I am struggling to decide on a finish for our red birch flooring. I understand that red birch is a difficult floor to refinish. It is an older floor and had yellowed/turned almost orange. The look we prefer is a matte finish, and as close to possible to the sanded color, beige and light. The refinisher is suggesting Lenmar or Minwax in matte finishes. Complicating this decision is that the old floor butts into a new porcelain tile floor that has a look of white oak (whites/grays/beiges). Should we suggest Bona Traffic HD to our refinisher here in Vermont? Will this finish maintain the current floor color, or change it to something yellower, redder or darker? I would like the avoid this kind of result. How about Monocoat? Thanks in advance for any advice!

    1. Alicia – Everything depends on the color you choose. If you are going dark, you can use whatever poly you want. If you are going light/natural, etc. I would avoid Lenmar (as that is oil based) as that will make the floor more yellow. If you are doing any sort of gray/beige, you need to avoid all oil based products…you need water borne (and not water modified). The only one I’d recommend for that is Bona Traffic HD as it will hold up best and amberize the least.

      Monocoat may give you a nice look…if that’s what you like. But, it’s very difficult to maintain (and the maintenance products are expensive). It does not protect your floor from water.

      Bear in mind that Bona traffic HD will give you a matte look. Their satin comes out pretty matte, but if you want matte matte, then use “extra Matte.”

      I hope that helps.

  19. Do you ever use the Bona Traffic Anti-Slip? I’m a DIYer refinishing my landing and steps with new maple treads and want a clear finish. i’m going to use Bona Traffic but I jst dont’ know if I should use the anti-slip the HD or the regular traffic.

    We have a big yellow lab who is lovable but not smart or gentle so i’m trying to get something durable and hopefully slip resistant but not at the cost of having my floor and stairs look like sand is embedded in the finish.

    1. Sorry for delayed response, Mike. I’ve been trying to catch up on some work and I missed this question. Yes, we have used anti slip and it does help a bit. The durability is the same, but it adds a bit of texture to the floor. But, I don’t want to mislead you as your dog is still likely to have some issues on the steps (as most dogs do). Your best solution for dogs is to get a carpet runner. This solves the issue for the dog (and helps people too) and it will help may your stairs last longer (and be quieter).

      The most common reason people call for runners is for dogs. And, I’m also going to tell you that the carpet runner will become more important as the dog ages.

  20. Hey thanks for the article!
    We’re going to have spice brown stained oak floors and are deciding on what poly to have the builder use. I’m leaning oil-based but my biggest concern is yellowing as I like the cool almost grey color.

    Are there any brands that will yellow over time less than others? I’ve read that finishes with resin made from safflower resist yellowing but couldn’t find anything specific.

    1. Max – In your case, my inclination would be to use oil based too. If you’re concerned about it turning too yellow, then also consider going a bit darker on the stain. I can’t see how the spice brown looks on your floor, so hard to say how much the amberizing may show…the darker the stain, the less the yellow. Also, I don’t think there’s much of a difference in the yellowing across oil based poly brands. If you’re very concerned about the yellowing, then go with Bona Traffic HD.

      I hope that helps.

  21. Dear Flooring Girl ,
    Your knowledge blows me away !
    I am a professional
    Musician was bandleader on the Suzanne Somers TV show at Universal Studios and have been around quality my whole life so you are refreshing regarding flooring.
    I am in Los Angeles and have engineered hardwood flooring 8 years old. I have used Bona cleaner from the beginning but would like more than a cleaner to brighten things up a bit and fill in some scratches. I have a polishing machine that goes back and forth from Shark I love it does not go around in circles and would like to use that to buff. I don’t want a screening product like Bona Traffic that has 2 parts just a one step simple polish not high gloss. I was going to get Bona polish as it comes in low gloss and but it has a lot of bad reviews on streaking and cloudiness . I called Bona and they said probably because it was applied wrong ? I spoke to the flooring company and they said you have to be careful with engineered wood with poly coating no wax etc. There are a lot of products out there Bona , Bruce , Rejuvinate , Quick Shine can you recommended one that would serve my purposes and I could use with my buffing machine ?

    Thank you,
    Glenn Zottola

    1. Glenn – Thanks for your kind words and cool logo with your name.

      Okay, you have a very tough situation and I’m not sure how to advise you. Because of the products you have been using on your floor already, you probably will not be able to do a screen and recoat at all. The products you have been using have oils and waxes in them. Therefore, a screen and recoat won’t work work as it won’t adhere. the only way to have a polyurethane to adhere is to fully sand and refinish the floors…and it sounds like this is what you’re trying to avoid (and since you have engineered floor, you may or may not be able to do that based on the thickness of the wear layer).

      This is probably why you’ve had streaking problems in the past.

      I don’t know what to advise you to do, but whatever you try, I’d pick a spot to test it where it won’t show/won’t show much (e.g. closets, room with a large area rug, under refrigerator if you have wood in the kitchen.

      In general, I’m a big fan of Bona products, but I just don’t know which will work for you or your machine.

      1. Hi!
        I’ve got a 20 yr old Bruce engineered oak floor that every 5 or 6 yrs, I hand sand, fill divots , restain if needed….
        About 5 yrsago, I purchased and applied a Bona product (not a 2 part system) avail at home Depot/Lowe’s because of its reputation…
        After all intense labor to prep as that’s 90% of any project, application was great, but within a yr or 2 it turned dark and murky, scuffed up and would prolly last forever but turned my light oak flooring to a dirty dark walnut..
        Contacted chemist at bona and was informed that because it wasn’t the professional grade, avail to contractors only product, too bad…
        Getting that stuff up was a nightmare…and yes was like peeling up a hard ugly plastic..
        Is bona traffic only avail to contractors like yourself, does it yellow or turn dark, and since I’ve sanded from 80 to 150 to 220 grit and stained, will it apply over the old finish left…. (Bona traffic sounds like an epoxy type finish?l
        I certainly appreciate an eye for quality, excellent workmanship, and the beauty of a job well done…that’s why I do this myself….what I save in careless and botched labor I will gladly spend on quality product.
        Thank you for your frank, straightforward, and honest review

        1. Deb – Bona Traffic HD isn’t sold at Home Depot. (You can order it online or you may find it in a local flooring store). It definitely sounds like you used a different and cheap product (as that is often what they sell) and based on the results. And, no Bona Traffic is not an epoxy finish. Also Bona Traffic would not make your floors dark like that. It’s basically a clear or very close to clear finish.

          Also, I doesn’t sound like you’re using right grits. I’m assuming you have oak. But, generally, we use 36, 80, 120. and, if you have a finish that isn’t holding well, I’d recommend resanding and starting from scratch (or perhaps that’s what you’re doing.

          Finally, not sure where you’re getting the equipment. The equipment can make a HUGE difference and the ones they rent at home depot are low quality and lightweight, as an FYI. If my guys used that equipment, their job would not turn out very well.

          I hope this is helpful.

  22. Hi! Just wanted to thank you for this amazing site! I’ve devoured it. it’s been incredibly helpful. I had Brazilian cherry for 17 years w no issues. We decided to refinish, sand, stain etc. in minwax ebony w lenmar poly. Big mistake. the stain came out well, but the installer must have messed up the poly bc now it’s scratches super easily. He said it had to cure but it’s been 4 months and it just getting worse. you can barely walk on it without it scratching in white. ANYWAY, thankfully I found your site. After reading your site and getting lots of different opinions from multiple installers, we are leaning towards resanding, doing a clear/natural stain and we are stuck between Bona HD or Duraseal. We are stuck because we’d prefer lighter and “less red” floors (this is why we chose ebony bc took out the red but now you can see a grain of salt on it from a mile away). We’d love it if they could stay as close to the color brazilian cherry is after you sand it. We also have 3 young kids, a dog and lots of friends, so we need to it be very hard (like they used to, likely aluminum oxide)and durable. All my furniture has wood protectors on legs, but kids will be kids and since I have to do it all again, I want to do it right this time. Any recommendations before we dive in again? Thanks once again for this wonderful site and the time you take to answer everyone’s questions!

    1. Carmen – Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about your problems. Darker definitely shows everything more, so lighter is probably a better option, especially since Brazilian tends to show scratches more, anyway (due to smooth graining in addition to color). It sounds like the installer may not have done the sanding properly (perhaps the stain isn’t adhering…and therefore neither is the poly), so your best bet, no matter what, is to start fresh.

      In your case, I’d probably do Bona Traffic HD as it will be a bit lighter and a bit less red (and look a bit more like the natural look of the wood). Bona Traffic HD will also dry and cure faster…and the curing is especially important given your dog and kids.

      It takes 30 days curing for oil based and generally 2 weeks for water based. Bona Traffic HD claims 7 day curing, but I’d be more conservative and allow 2 weeks.

      So, here’s what this means you should do:
      – Wait at least 24 hrs after last coat before walking on the floor (socks only).
      – Wait 3 days before moving furniture back
      – I would make sure everyone wears socks (no shoes, no bare feet) for 1st week (2 weeks is even better). Okay if people need to go bare feet after 2 to 3 days, but brazilian cherry is naturally an oily floor and we have oils on our feet, so waiting a bit longer is better.
      – Dog needs to stay off floors for 2 weeks. Very important. But, after a few days, if you get doggie socks, dog can go on floor wearing those (go to menu on right hand side…there is a tab on hardwood resources, including doggie socks and you can buy them online.
      – Wait 6 months before adding area rugs (normally for most woods, 30 days is fine due to curing but Brazilian cherry is very sensitive to light and most of the darkening/reddening takes place during the 1st 6 months).

      Hope that made sense.

      If you use oil based, I’d double some of those times (see my article on how long does it take to refinish hardwood floors).

  23. We got a quote from a contractor to use Duraclear Max which I understand to be their 2 part water based system. How good is that compared to the Bona Traffic you mention? Is it worth seeing if they’ll use the Bona or would it be better to have them use what they’re most comfortable with?

    1. I’m sure it’s inferior to Bona Traffic. Also, the VOC’s are higher (275 vs 125). I would see if Bona Traffic HD is an option (it will probably cost a bit more, but not that much more as it looks like Duraclear Max costs more than other polyurethanes). Alternatively, you could buy it on Amazon (use links above).

  24. First, I want to say thanks for your hands-down best resource when it comes to flooring. I’ll only echo the many praises you’ve already gotten, well deserved.

    I’m writing because I went with Varathane High Traffic waterborne finish. I was pleasantly surprised with the look, but the stuff scratches when you just look at it. I saw that problem mentioned on a review but it was in the minority and I had the stuff on hand, so I used it. I would suggest that it goes on your list of brands to avoid unless I have missed something. I waited 4 days before moving anything on to it and the slightest touch of a hard object scuffs it. Am I just moving stuff too soon? Will I have better performance over time? And as to that, should I keep the rugs off of it for 6 months as you suggested elsewhere?

    If I get no improvement over time, can I lay some Bona Traffic over it as a protective layer or will I need to strip the whole floor?

    1. Jay – First, thank you for your kind words. I really appreciate that. You made my day. Second, it’s hard for me to say if the issue you’re having is do the Varathane brand/item you have or the application/sanding (and, it could be both). Varathane certainly would not be my recommendation on a product to use and they tend to be cheaper and sell many cheaper products, so we’ve avoided them. My guess is that the product is inferior. Also, I would not expect the product to get much better. I suppose though that maybe it will get a tad better if it’s still curing and it gets harder. Curing for that product is probably around 2 to 3 weeks. Not sure how long ago you did this.

      Regardless, you shouldn’t be having this many issues and you may want to call the manufacturer for advice and/or you may want to consider redoing.

      Also, you only need to wait 30 days for area rugs (unless you have an exotic wood like Brazilian cherry that darkens a lot from the light…for those, you should wait 6 months, but for oak, maple, pine, etc 30 days is sufficient.

      I hope that helps.

  25. Hi i am doing 7 inch solid hickory flooring. I am coNcerned on it gapping due to temperature changes, I love the wider width but was told it expands and contracts more creating larger gaps. Any way I am wondering how vermeister zero voc compares to the Bona traffic hd. My installer and wood source both recommend Bona traffic as do you, but I really like the idea of zero Voc with Vermeister. Please help with my decision . I’m trying to do toxic free as possible. Thank you

    1. Violet – I’ve never heard of Vermeister and I asked several installers and none of them have heard of it either. That to me is a red flag. I do feel confident about Bona Traffic HD, though.

      Also, make sure that the installer nails AND glues the planks. You need to do that if you have solid hardwood that is 5″ or wider. It reduces the gapping.

  26. TY for all this excellent advice. After reading everything, we are going to use DuraSeal Golden Oak Stain and 3 coats of DuraSeal Satin oil-based polyurethane on our 80 year old white oak floors. However, in reviewing DuraSeal’s website, I see there are at least 3 options of polyurethane 350, 450, & 550 plus something called Duraclear and Duraclear Max. Which of these products would you recommend for the best result? Thank you in advance for your expert advice! Best, Carol

    1. First, you want Dura clear; Duraclear max is water borne and doesn’t hold up as well.

      Regarding the 350/450/550, those refer to VOC levels…and those are regulated by state, so it depends where you live. The higher the number, the more durable your floor will be.

      So, if you go to a local store, you will generally find the max # that a state allows. I’m not sure what happens if you buy online. There may not be any regulations on that. But, I’m not sure.

  27. In a further review of DuraSeal’s website, I see both Duraclear and Duraclear Max clean up with water. Therefore, based on your recommendation, we’ll be choosing the allowable DuraSeal 350/450/550 VOC Polyurethane. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise. We appreciate you! Best, Carol & Steve

  28. Hello, I am a DYI with a number of rental properties; I have refinished old and installed new wood floors in a number of these properties over the past 20 years. I have used Minwax products exclusively during this time and have not had the problems that it appears other people have had. You have stated that DuraSeal (350, 450, 550 VOC) is a better product than Minwax (Oil based poly), can you provide specific details in how DuraSeal is a better product. Such as; ease of application, time required to allow floor to dry/cure, adhesion to the wood floor, resistance to wear, etc. I am about to install a large amount of new white oak flooring and am trying to decide if I should switch to a DuraSeal product.

    1. Leo – For poly, duraseal adheres better, lasts longer and tends to dry faster. I’m not sure if there is a difference on curing time, but I would guess that would be shorter. Durability means that it’s more resistant to scratches and wear and looks better longer. The VOC levels vary by state (due to state regulations). Regarding stains, many DIYers find it easier to apply Minwax stain because it takes longer to dry. Professionals who are more experienced prefer duraseal because they know how to apply it properly. In terms of dry time, Duraseal dries MUCH faster. The darker you go, the bigger the difference. Drying time will vary based on humidity and species and how wood absorbs it. But, for a light color, it would generally take less than 24 hrs for Duraseal, but for minwax could easily be 24-48 hours for same color. For dark stains, usually Duraseal takes 24 hrs (occasionally up to 48 hrs where as Minwax can take 5 to 7 days. Because of this, many DIYer who use minwax stain apply the poly too soon and have additional issues with this. If you need more specifics, call Minwax (they make both duraseal and minwax). I don’t have the tech specs, but they should. You will find consistency among most professionals that they use and strongly prefer duraseal over minwax. Less experienced refinishers and installer may use minwax as a) they don’t know any better and/or b) it’s easier for them to find (e.g. in a hardware store). I hope that helps.

  29. Hi. Have been reading your blog looking for help in refinishing all the wood flooring in our raised ranch. We have two quotes thus far. One contractor uses Lenmar products the other the Bona HD traffic you clearly have a preference for. Both contractors have very good references/recommendations in my local area in Connecticut. However, the company using the Bona products and dustless sanding is quite a bit more expensive than the other. Is the quality of the Bona products vs the Lenmar products significant enough to recommend going with that contractor? Should I expect a dustless sanding effort to be significantly more costly than others. Our primary goal is best result.

    1. Doug – You are definitely comparing apples to oranges here. One is giving you water borne poly (which is more expensive) and the best brand of it (which is more expensive). The other is giving you oil based and an okay brand of it. Dustless costs more.

      You need to separate out the elements.

      1. Do you want/need dustless? (it definitely costs more). Ask them how much extra it costs so that you can understand whether that’s worth it to you.

      2. Why is one recommended water and the other oil. See why that is. (Is it because of the color your want, the species or smell or drying time or desired color? And, ask both what they think about what the other is recommending. Bona Traffic is definitely more…but the question is why they are recommending it and/or why you want it. Bona traffic is definitely the best water borne poly and is way better than the others. I always recommend it for maple, for white washed and gray floors, and often for natural for a more updated look. There are a lot of benefits for it including less smell, faster drying time, faster curing time, lower VOCs. But, if you were going for dark and wanted a richer and darker look, I often recommend oil. If someone is very sensitive to smell, I recommeng Bona traffic. there is no one size fits all, and I don’t know which of these factors are more important to you.

      But, I do know that you are not comparing apples to apples.

      I hope this made sense.

    1. Marie – No, I don’t work for Bona, nor do I get discounts from them. This is the brand and line that we use most often. But, there are times where we use Bona Mega. We have also used Street Shoe…in fact, that was the water borne poly we used to use before Bona Traffic came along. We also use Duraseal for oil based poly.

      We try to choose the best brands because we stand behind our work and want our customers to be happy…and also to recommend us to their friends.

  30. I want to make sure that if my contractor uses an oil-based Minwax stain on my oak floors that he can finish this with
    Bona Traffic HD or Bona Fide. Your knowledge has been most helpful. I think you finally pointed me in the direction of a durable, water borne polyurethane that will NOT yellow and will be worth the money spent. Thank you!

    1. Penni – Yes, you can use Bona Traffic (or other water polyurethane) on top of oil based stains. That is done all the time.

      That being said, I would strongly recommend that your contractor use Duraseal stain rather than minwax stain. They are made by the same company. Professionals use duraseal as it comes out better and also dries faster. I have an article about that on this website.

  31. Hello, it’s me again. I wrote about 3 months ago. We had refinished our brazilian cherry in a dark stain that scratches easily. Our installer used minwax and lenmar. My husband and I have been talking and it’s just soooo difficult and costly to refinish and start from scratch, we are wondering if it’s an reasonable option to do a light sanding to remove the Lenmar poly and then put the Bona HD poly? From the research I’ve done it seems that maybe the poly the installer used could have been old or he just didn’t do it right. The stain itself looks great. It really just scratches very easily. Thoughts?

    1. Carmen – It’s hard to say how good a job the installer did. If you want to do a screen and recoat with Bona Traffic, you probably could, but you would want to wait at least 6 months from when they were done. You will probably need to do 2 coats. I also might test it in 1 room first.

      Brazilian cherry and darker woods show scratches more, and Lenmar isn’t the best poly, but it’s also not terrible. It’s odd that you’re getting a lot of scratches after 3 months, so it is possible that the job wasn’t done so well. That’s why I would probably test in 1 room. And, you would only be removing the top coat of poly.

      Also, you may want to bring in a local installer to take a look to see what the problem is.

  32. I am refinishing a older home, hard wood flooring. You recommended Duraseal Polyurethane which brand etc. Thanks

  33. Christina Fazio

    Hello ! I have a small area I had to send down to remove a cat urine stain. (My kids did expect to be gone over a month, neither did I !) Anyway I think it’s mostly out . I have restained it. Does it matter what I use cause it’s a smaller area. About 2 ft circumference I a traffic area

    1. Christina – This depends how bad the damage is and how dark. If the wood is black, it may not sand out…and then you need to replace/weave in a few boards…OR do a dark stain…one that is dark enough to camouflage the area.

      If you have a professional doing the work, they may be able to advise you and/or sometimes you will see if you or they sand, and then you can make a judgment call.

  34. Hi! First, thank you so much for writing this blog, it has been enormously helpful in our home renovation.

    Second, I am having our red oak floors stained with DuraSeal Provincial stain, and I asked our contractor for the Bona HD water-borne poly in satin because our house has a lot of windows and skylights and I don’t want the finish to amber.

    We got the DuraSeal stain, but he purchased DuraSeal Dura Clear water-based commercial wood floor finish in satin. Is this an inferior product? I don’t want to have to refinish our floors in a couple of years…

    Thanks so much for your help!

  35. First let me say what a wealth of information you are. I’ve found myself reading for hrs on your site. Thank you very much!
    I am currently building a cedar cabin & am planning to use locally milled cedar tongue & groove flooring. I will obviously be using Bona Traffic HD. Now to my question. This being freshly milled lumber & I don’t anticipate any staining (possibly some light torching in some areas), would you recommend any sanding or sealing prior to the oil based polyurethane application or should I allow the poly to be absorbed into this softer wood?

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I appreciate it. Sorry for delay (my dad has been in hospital). Anyway, YES, you definitely need to sand the floors before you apply any stain or any poly. Otherwise, it will not be absorbed properly. Milled lumber, regardless of species is not properly sanded, nor fine enough. This is true regardless of species, grade, poly used or whether or not you do a stain.

      We ALWAYS sand and refinish unfinished hardwood. If you don’t, it won’t look nor feel right, and the poly can peel and it certainly won’t last as long.

  36. I got a bargain (or so I thought) on 250sf of 5″ hickory flooring. Age and storage may also have been factors but there were irregularities in width and off-angles that had come right from the sawmill. I ended up using about 70% of it, choosing the cleanest pieces with the nicest figuring (I had fun butt-joining matching areas of heartwood), but there are still a number of <1/16" gaps from bowed, off-true, and mis-sawn widths. I'll be using Bona HD satin and probably Bona AmberSeal to give it some warmth, but how would you suggest I deal with the gaps? I have a couple light colors of Zar Wood Patch… Thanks!

    1. Chuck – I hate to say that you get what you pay for, but this is a great example of it. Often with cheaper wood, the milling is not good as you can see. You would probably want to use some filler. My guys will often use some of the sawdust for this so it matches. They make some sort of mixture with it, but I don’t know the specifics of how they make it.

  37. No reason to post this one but I wanted to say I hope your dad’s doing better. I’ve been building my dream-home for the past year (thanks to a fire and the kindness of our insurance-company) and there’s not a day that goes by I don’t miss being able to show my dad some handy workaround – or laugh with him at my many, erm, inventive mistakes.

    1. Chuck – Thanks so much. I appreciate it. He’s doing a bit better now and they are supposed to release him on Wednesday. We have a long road ahead, but we are hopeful and so thankful to have him with us. It’s been a roller coaster for sure. And, I’m sorry about your loss. It sounds like he brought you up well.

  38. What is the best polyacryllic/ poly urethane to put on newly splatter painted floors in old New England home?? Thanks

    1. Donna – To be honest, I don’t know the answer and I’d recommend that you ask the manufacturers. If you have white it’s going to be tricky as virtually all will add a bit of yellow. Bona Traffic would probably be best and yellow the least. But please check with the manufacturer as poly adheres to paint differently than wood/stain.

  39. Hello, What finish do you recommend for a high traffic restaurant/bar floor? I only have a 2 day window to finish the job. Is there a one coat finish I could use? Thank you!

    1. Shawna – You’re best bet is go natural (i.e. no stain) with Bona Traffic. That can be done in 2 days (with 3 coats poly). And, no there is no one coat finish. It would never hold up nor would the floors be smooth enough.

      Bona traffic is the most durable water finish and both dries and cures fastest. This is by far your best option.

      Note: you really should give it more drying time after before you reopen as you really should no put furniture back on until 2 days after the last coat.

      You may want to pay your installers extra to see if they can put 3rd coat on either very light at night or very early in the morning so that you will at least have 24 hrs before you have customers there.

      And, to be clear, you will need 3 coats of poly…unless you plan to redo this again within a year.

  40. I am in the process of installing American Cherry flooring that was removed from a very old church being demolished in Pittsburgh,Pa. It has finish on it, but I don’t know what kind, and I would like to lightly sand it and put a finish coat on it. After reading you site I think Dura Seal oil based might be best. Any suggestions? Should I use Dura Seal Quick Dry Sealer before finishing the floor?

    1. Pam – Yes, that is what I would go with. Assuming you’re going natural (and not staining), you can use the sealer for the first coat and the poly for the next 2 coats. I would use a satin finish (looks better and shows scratches less).

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