Maple Hardwood finish - oil- or water-based

Our contract calls for oil-based finish on our newly installed (but unfinished) 600 sq. ft. of maple hardwood flooring (light-colored maple, not dark). What coating? I'm told water-based is more expensive, is more durable, protects against UV rays better, and leaves a more natural-colored finish on maple. Oil-based puts a yellowish finish on the wood, I'm told. Also, I'm told water-based is more difficult to apply.
Anyone have experience with this? Is water-based that much better (or oil-based on maple much worse)? Is it worth it to ask for water-based on maple, and to fork up the difference? Thanks for any help.
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mark Ransley wrote:

mark is right. if it were me i would use a water based acrylic urethane so the maple does not amber over time. maple is a very fine wood. good luck.
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Typically the water borne product is "Water White" i.e. clear with no yellowing, it has much better qualities, easier and faster to apply, and only costs a bit more a gallon.
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This is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong. A GOOD water has a low acrylic content and a higher polyurethane content. Acrylic has better flow properties making application easier. The best new finishes are pure polyurethane but flow well. The best oil(FabulonPro) can be had for about $20/gal ($36 in California) while the best water goes for nearly $80/gal.
National Wood Floor Association did tests years ago, and even then determined that the best water is better than the best oil(They represent both manufacturers). Oil development has stayed stagnant while water has made some major advances since then. I heard a rumor some things were coming in the oil development, they have not appeared in public.
Ease of application is relative. Two entirely different systems and a shop set up for water will not charge any more for water because they make more efficient use of time. Less trips to the house with the quicker dry times.
As for Maple, water is ideal for getting the most from its light color. Some people still prefer the ambered look of oil though. You should ask them to show some samples of each right there on the floor. You should beware of asking a oil-based shop to apply water on maple, there are some tricks to avoid problems, such as not getting the floor too smooth before coating because maple lacks the grain definition that oak has. Too many coats on a smooth floor will produce a lot of stop marks and lap lines. I have witnessed some truly horrible jobs by highly reputable shops who were unaccustomed to water application.
M Hamlin The Oak Floors of Marco Los Gatos, CA
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Thanks for the replies. We just went with what was in the original contract - polyurethane oil based.
If this stuff is toxic, is there a real risk in our case - a one time application (3 coats) where the fumes eventually dissipate, and we never use it again?
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On jobs that I want to look _really_ good and that I care about (as opposed that I got shafted into doing) I use waterbased MEGA Bonx-X finish. It's dummy proof. No buffing between coats, and no pooling. You could probably pour the stuff on the floor, and come back an hour later to find it perfect. I prefer the satin.
Oil is fine, but it's a PITA. It smells, is hard to clean, etc etc.
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