water vs oil -based polyurethane?


We are having a pine kitchen floor, pretty rustic and beat up, sanded and refinished. The floor refinisher asked if we wanted water-based polyurethane or not. What's the difference? Pros & cons? Thanks
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caemna wrote:

No petroleum fumes with waterborne. Won't amber over time, which may or may not be desirable (I prefer finishes which show aging, i.e. character, same as the wood underneath. Cures faster. Feels even more like plastic than oil-based poly.
Waterborne is essentially latex paint with the pigments replaced with poly resin. Emulsification is achieved by addition of glycol-based "bridging solvents," which allow oil-based compounds to be dissolved in water. Apply without ventilation, and waterborne finishes will make you feel every bit as sick as their oil-based counterparts. Don't be sold on its "nontoxic" qualities. It isn't, just somewhat less "bad" for you.
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if its not outdopor polyurethane getting wet can soften the finish, and allow odors if any sealed in wood to be released.
i would only use the outdoor poly, its harder and longer life
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Water-based, easy cleanup, low odor, typically doesn't wear nearly as well. Doesn't yellow. Street Shoe is an excellent brand, very commonly used in malls with hardwood I'm told. Has wear characteristics rivalling oil based supposedly. If they have access to this stuff, I'd go with it for a house I was occupying.
Oil based, lasts longest, does yellow in the sun over time, smells to high heaven. Dunno if you'll wanna live in the house over the 3-4 days it'll take to put 3 coats of the stuff down.
Best Regards, -- Todd H. http://www.toddh.net /
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I put down oilbased poly wiht a paintbrush... it's not that strong of smell.
Just be sure to get away from it every now and again for a few minutes... if you're using a "lambswool on a stick" applicator then you should be fine. It won't kill you.
Oh, you may wake up with a headache the morning after because you've been breathing that stuff all night... but you can kill it with aspirin.
Not sure about the water-based poly. It has one big advantage...it stays clear. Oil based will yellow over time, and it is noticable. If you're staining the floor, go wtih oil based... if you like a natural wood, then go with the water-based.
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caemna spake thus:

What others here have said. My preference is still for the old oil-based stuff, for the following reasons:
1. As others have pointed out, it's more durable. Harder and more wear-resistant.
2. It flows on much, much smoother than the water-based stuff. Think of the difference in texture between latex (water-based) and oil-based (real "enamel") paint. With water-based stuff, there will always be some brush texture. Oil-base settles down to a super-smooth coating (but which reveals any dirt that gets trapped in the finish).
The disadvantages are the fact that it *may* yellow (but even water-based finishes will change color over time to some extent), and the smell. I wouldn't put down an oil-based finish in cold weather in a sealed house: that would be headache city, as someone else pointed out. Do it in warm weather when you can keep doors and windows opened. Should only take about a day for the odor to dissipate. You also should avoid walking on it until it cures nice and hard (2-3 days at least).
Oh, and the other disadvantage is that you have to wash out brushes, rollers or other applicators with solvent (paint thinner). I don't find this a problem. If you are the type who throws out their brushes anyhow, then this isn't a hassle.
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