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Floor Finishes Floor Finishes

Wood Floor Finishes and Finishing Techniques

Special care must be taken by any hardwood floor installer when sanding, finishing, or refinishing your wood floors. Every hardwood species is unique in the way it must be acclimatized, handled, and installed. Please be sure your hardwood floor installer knows the proper method for your project, otherwise you may end up paying more later to have a real pro fix it. At the very least, always check to make sure your hardwood contractor is a member of the National Wood Flooring Association.

ArtelCraft has put together this brief guide on finishes to help you when choosing your floors. If you have any questions about hardwood floor finishes or refinishing techniques, give us a call or drop us an email. We’re always happy to help.

Should I choose pre-finished or home-finished floors?

Home-site finished hardwood floors

Home-site finished floors are sanded and finished after the hardwood has been installed. There is enormous benefit to home-site finishing because it creates a consistent seal across the tops of the hardwood boards so no moisture or dirt can penetrate through the seams. Home-site finished floors are also easier to refinish and repair is often simpler than with pre-finished floors.


Pre-finished hardwood floors receive multiple layers of finish at the factory and are delivered to your site ready to install. There are some advantages to pre-finished floors including quicker installation, no sanding and no smell from home-site finishing. Disadvantages include difficulty repairing or refinishing and the lack of a consistent seal across the tops of all boards.

How long will my finish last?

The most important factors in the life of your hardwood floor finishes are the amount of foot traffic and the frequency of maintenance. While some finish types require only light maintenance or cleaning to maintain their luster, other types may require semi-annual waxing and buffing or recoating within 5 years. There is no set amount of time each finish will last, but ArtelCraft installers can help you understand your floors’ specific maintenance requirements to maintain their natural beauty for decades.

Finish your floors to match your home!

ArtelCraft can help you select a hardwood floor finish that perfectly complements your interior. Schedule an estimate today to get started.

Types of Hardwood Finishes


Swedish finish

Swedish finish is an alcohol-based varnish created in the 1950s and for decades has been the industry standard finish in the Puget Sound because of its durability and ease of maintenance. Light mopping is all that’s required to maintain the warmth and shine of Swedish finished hardwood floors unlike wax and polyurethane finishes which require regular cleaning, waxing and buffing. Most hardwood floor installers and industry experts feel that Swedish finish is the most durable and long-lasting option for finishing hardwood floors.

There are disadvantages to Swedish finish however, including volatile solvents which are extremely flammable and have a very unpleasant odor. Homeowners may need to vacate their homes when Swedish finish is applied and it can take up to 4 weeks before furniture and rugs may be put back in place. Some manufacturers say it takes up to 90 days for Swedish finish to cure completely.

Water-based and Eco hardwood finishes

Increasingly, customers ask us about finishing options other than the traditional Swedish finish. There are a growing number of waterborne finishes available on the market including some like Bona Traffic, Glitsa Max or Streetshoe  and those have been widely used for over a decade.  Two-component finishes were originally designed for commercial applications for its durability. Two component waterborne finishes are more expensive than one-component finishes which may work well in homes with little foot-traffic.

We’ve found that three coats of water-base finish do a better job of filling the grain and protecting the hardwood than a popular two coats of swedish finish. Water-base is also quite durable and we love it for its health benefits.

But we aren’t the only ones who like the benefits of water-based finishes; we’ve seen more and more installers and distributors choosing eco-friendly products suggesting that this newer technology will soon be wide-spread. We feel that water-based finishes, when applied correctly offer results to match those of Swedish and we think it’s a great choice for all our customers.

Waterborne finish brands we use include: Bona, Glitsa, and Basic Coating.

High-Solid Oils and Hard wax oil finishes

Oil based finishes are a cost-effective option that has been widely used for centuries. Some customers prefer oil-based finishes and stains because they can give hardwood an added depth and warmth not found with waterborne finishes. Oil-based products are absorbed into the fibers of your wood floors and accentuate figuring and wood grain. One characteristic of oil-based finishes is a “yellowing” that occurs over time. Some homeowners prefer this effect while others appreciate the options water-based finishes and oil-based stains offer for customizing hardwood floors.

There is a slight difference in color and sheen between water-based and oil-based finishes and there are a variety of oil-based stains which can further change the appearance of your hardwood floors. Most oil finishes are ready to walk on within 24 hours and take up to two weeks to cure completely.

Recommended Brands

There are many brands and types of finishes and stains to choose from. ArtelCraft will help you choose from our list of trusted suppliers. Products we like include:

  • BONA
  • Glitsa
  • Dura Seal
  • OSMO polyx-oil
  • Berger-Seidle

Learn about hardwood stains.


Do you have more questions about hardwood finishes or techniques? Give us a call at (206) 577-7722 or

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