Urethane or Wax? South Texas Flooring 713-660-9189

Urethane vs. Wax – In Houston, most hardwood floors today have a urethane finish. Before the mid 20th century, however, wood floors were, for the most part, coated with wax, and South Texas Flooring (713-660-9189) still gets occasional requests to finish a floor with wax instead of urethane. The two finishes are quite different.
When an existing hardwood floor is refinished, the initial step is sanding to remove the old stain and finish. The floor is then stained a color of the customer’s choosing, and then, after the stain dries, the finish coat is applied. There are two types of finish coatings; a “penetrating” finish, and a “surface” finish. Wax is a penetrating finish. Wax penetrates into the wood, and begins to protect it from wear and the elements. Urethane, on the other hand, is a surface finish, and simply coats the surface of the hardwood floor, also protecting it.
Only one coat of wax is typically applied, and that coat immediately begins to dull, evaporate, and wear away. Another coat is soon required, which will penetrate deeper into the hardwood, and add more protection to the floor. As time goes on, less wax is required to continually protect the wood. At any time, the floor can be lightly buffed, which will bring new sheen to any dull or high traffic areas. Over a long period of time, if properly maintained and cared for, the wax will “burnish” deeper and deeper into the floor, and the protection and finished appearance will be longer lasting.
Urethane, as noted above, coats the surface of the hardwood floor. Two coats are generally applied initially, but no more finish will be needed for many years, barring serious abuse. The urethane will retain its sheen (no buffing required), and will not wear off from normal foot traffic.
By far the biggest reason for the predominance of urethane floor finish over the last 40 years or so is the low maintenance, as opposed to a wax finish. As noted above, occasionally a customer prefers wax, but urethane is today’s “normal”.
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