Should I Use Water Based or Oil Based Polish for Wooden Flooring

Carter Marcus
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Benefits of Water Based Polish

While oil based polish for wooden floors is the most traditional option, water based polish has superior qualities. Water based wines will have the same sheen as oil based but will also offer more protection on the wood!

Check out some of the additional benefits of water based wooden polish for your home.

Environmental Benefits

Water based wooden polish for the home is environmentally friendly. Water based solvents will not leave any residue on the surface of your floor, which allows for superior shine and protection. Plus, unlike other types of wooden floor polish, water based brands will not fade or damage wood!


What's more? Water based wooden polish is user friendly and easy to apply. This makes it both economical and environmentally friendly.

Saves you money! Cheap and effective, water based wooden polish is often a better option than oil based wooden polish.

Useful Tips

Although water based wooden polish is an excellent option, you should know about a few possible drawbacks.

Ooozing Wooden Floor Polish

Often, with water based wooden polish you may find that your floor does not look beautifully polished. Water based wooden polish does not work as well as oil based in regards to shining. Plus, sometimes water based formulas may have a runny consistency and may leak through the cracks. This can cause a sticky backing to form or worse, your flooring can be damaged.

Problems with Water Based Polish

If used too often water based floor cleaning products can:

  • Remove the patina from the floor
  • Cause a sticky buildup that repels dust and dirt
  • Remove mositure from the floor causing dark spots
  • Wear away at the finish by eroding the surface

Scratch the floor as some types will not flow into the grain or wood pores.

Benefits of Oil Based Polish

While that nail is holding you back your job of floor coating, it is time to give it maintenance overhaul. Resolving these issues are the sign to apply some wood polish. But there are many different varieties present in the market which confuses you. All this time you are using water based furniture polish without even researching about the oil based wood polish. Fiber and Low VOC wax are the most suitable for oil based applications.

Oil based polishes are popularly used for several benefits. These polishes are favorite for high traffic floors because they have deep penetration and provide a beautiful color and gloss for the floor. These are easy to apply in large quantity and leave a long-lasting shine and protection for the floor. It is also used for outdoor wooden flooring.

High Shine: These polishes leave a brilliant shine. Unlike water based polishes which only provide a short-lasting shine to the wood floor, oil based polish gives long-lasting shine due to the affinity to the woods.

No Produce Dust: Oil based polishes are easy to apply and come in paste form that does not produce dust as compared to the water based polishes. These paste contain water so they require wetting to solubilize the polish.

Easy Cleaning: These polishes are easily removable from the floors with water and sponge. These polishes are easy to wipe and clean. No need for special chemical cleaners to remove these from the floor.

Problems with Oil Based Polish

Oil-based polyurethane is a finish that has been popular and widely used for years. It is very durable and offers long term protection to the wood. The floors that have an oil-based finish will not have to be re-finished for many years. However, oil-based polyurethane finishes require more work during application. The results start to change and darken within 12-15 years. The finish will need to be stripped or sanded and re-polished to get back its original look.

The problem with this is that the more you are working on the floor, the more its life is extended and the quicker it wears out. It’s very obvious that if the finish is going to have to be stripped, sanded and re-polished sooner, why have the floor finished at all?

However, the main reason wood floor manufacturers choose to use oil based polyurethane is because it is a safer finish to be used in general. Here are two reasons why:

It offers them the opportunity to put a very durable finish on the floor without worrying it will harm homeowners when used.

It is thicker in nature and does not dry as quickly which gives wood floor manufacturers time and ability to correct any issue or make any touch up once it’s applied.