6 Best Polyurethanes for Floors [Reviewed & Buyer’s Guide]

Wooden floors are expensive, and they should be treated as such.

Homely, yet elegant – wooden flooring gives homes such unique character. They add sophistication and bring a homely warmth to any room all at once.

Although wooden floorings come with durability, their upkeep and maintenance are important to retain their luxe appearance. Scratches from furniture and swelling from moisture can lead to the deterioration of wooden surfaces not only limited to flooring.

This is where polyurethane finishing makes all the difference. Shelves, doors, windows, cupboards – you can find more just within your surroundings that can do with a good coating of polyurethane.

The next question to ask yourself is: should I go for a water-based or oil-based polyurethane finish? Or, even more importantly, which brand and product will suit my needs?

To help you make an informed decision, here is our thorough guide to the crème de la crème of polyurethane for floors.

Best Polyurethane for Floors

Here is the list of the 6 best polyurethanes for floors.

1. Bona Mega 141 – Best Overall

The Swedish company Bona has brought forth its flagship waterborne wood floor finish, and we are all the luckier for it. The company is reputed and trustworthy and has dedicated about 100 years to developing products for wooden flooring. Sustainability is a big part of their ethos.

Bona products live up to the high recognition that they receive all around the world. Needless to say, this product forms a wonderful topcoat that can go smoothly over a suitable stain. 

The dry time is short, and 2 coats can be easily done in a matter of a few hours. This is great because the coverage is good too – about 2 gallons of Bona Mega 141 can cover one coating of a 900 sq. ft. apartment. 

We can conclude that this water-based polyurethane is a time-saving solution. We would like to add for your reference that it took about 3 hours in total to apply a double coat over the same area. Keep in mind, it is recommended that you apply only 2 coats in the span of 24 hours. Since it doesn’t take much time to dry, be prepared to apply it quickly, and with even strokes. 

In terms of durability, the average 3-4 coatings will be sufficient to make floors tough and scratch-resistant for days to come. Once done, the semi-gloss effect looks both elegant and understated. It is well-suited for those who want a shine that is not too obvious.  

While the thinness of the product is a favorable aspect, it also means multiple coatings are necessary. One gallon of Bona Mega 141 is priced higher than many other polyurethane available in the market. Buying 4-5 gallons for a whole apartment certainly adds up.

Material: Polyurethane | Finish Type: Semi-Gloss | Coverage: 600 sq ft/gal | Drying Time: 2-3 hours

2. Minwax 710330000 – Best Value

With this Minwax product, you don’t have to worry about choosing between water-based and oil-based polyurethane. After all, the Minwax 710330000 is water-based and oil-modified. This means it has all the goodness of water-based floor finishes – with a bit of oil-based poly mixed into the formulation.

Due to the unique formulation of water-based and oil-based elements, buyers get the best of both worlds. 

The application of this product leaves a glow on wooden floorboards that can usually only be obtained by oil-based finishing. At the end of it, you are left with protected floors that have just had an instant makeover.

On the other hand, like all water-based finishing, this product has less odor. It dries superbly fast – which is great news because multiple coats are required for the finishing to have maximum effect. As for areas that see a lot of foot traffic, such as the dining and living room, about 4 coatings will do. 

What’s more, clean-up is completely hassle-free. Since it is water-based, you need only use some soap and warm water. Hundreds of satisfied buyers can vouch for the nice sheen and protective coating of this product. For most, their finished floors are holding up well even after a few months. 

Although the product dries up in record time, even double coating is not sufficient for full protective coverage. Apart from this, the finish is not as clear as one might wish. It may leave a lighter color than desired on wood and a pink hue on white surfaces.  

Material: Water based | Finish Type: Satin | Coverage: 500 sq ft/gal | Drying Time: 2 hours

3. Deft 037125257040 – Best Quick Dry

This polyurethane from Deft scores tens all across the board. The rave reviews from users are enough to convince non-believers to trust in this magic solution. Here, too, a mix of water-based and oil-modified technology has been utilized to give the best results.

If you like a mirror glaze on your flooring, this is the product to go for. 

The finishing has been formulated to dry rapidly – allowing multiple coatings to be completed even within a span of a few hours. Simply sand lightly between coats to achieve a sophisticated and shiny effect. Moreover, the issue of yellowing of wooden surfaces doesn’t come up with this product – you are only left with clear and glossy floors.  

Despite the mirror looks, your floorboards will be as strong as a tree trunk. Once done, come back for observation after a few months and the coating will still look as good as it did on the first day.

As for application, it easily goes over all kinds of surfaces in smooth strokes. And while the coats dry, there is minimal odor – which makes a convincing case for the non-toxic and environmentally friendly composition of the product.  

A minor issue with the actual application was noticed. To be specific, normal brushes cause brush stroke lines to be formed on the top layer. Sponge brushes are more suitable for a smoother finish. With that being said, the product itself is sold in quarts and falls on the costlier end of our price range.  

Material: Water Based | Finish Type: Gloss | Coverage: n/a | Drying Time: 2 hours

4. Basic Coatings B1666-4312

The Basic Coatings B1666-413 enjoys the admiration of both home improvement magazines and experienced professionals. But the casual DIYer can just as easily apply it to achieve a professional finish. One of the leading water-based polyurethane in the market – you cannot go wrong with this tried-and-tested formula.

While commercial-grade and professionally done floors are hard to beat, they come at a price. Basic Coatings has released a product that promises to bring that skillful finish even at the hands of a novice. And, we must say, they have kept their side of the deal.

This polyurethane can be applied easily and smoothly all across your floors. The ease-of-use and detailed instructions have made it a hit among those looking for a professional finish – at a fraction of the price. 

With the right ventilation and weather, floors can dry up within 2-3 hours and you may walk on them with socks. For best results and long-lasting durability, wait for 7 days before moving your furniture in. This will easily guarantee good-looking and scratch-free floors for the next few years to come. 

If medium to high gloss is what you are looking for, then don’t hesitate to try this one out.

There are only minor issues that come up with this product. Most of them depend on personal taste. For starters, the finish is glossy but doesn’t have a satin finish. Also, coverage is an underlying issue. Although priced below some of its biggest competitors, the issue of coverage remains the same between them.

Material: Waterbased | Finish Type: Satin | Coverage: n/a | Drying Time: 24 hours

5. Zar 32512

This one is a must-buy for those with higher chemical sensitivity. Formulated to be environmentally safe, this wood finish locks in all the fumes and lets you breathe easier. In all other aspects too, the Aqua Zar 32512 is perfectly capable of doing the same as the biggest names in polyurethane. It’s a surprise that this product still doesn’t have as big a fan following as others.

This product has been carefully formulated to reduce the emission of solvent vapors. As a result, the strong smell of chemicals that comes from most polyurethane is almost unnoticeable. Existing smells also get locked within, leaving only a mild scent that is not harmful in small quantities.  

Even if you are a DIYer, you may apply it without extra help. To help you along the way is the self-leveling feature which gives a smooth finish. So, users don’t even have to worry too much about making even strokes. For best results, apply 3 coats – thoroughly vacuuming and sanding between each coat. In the end, you will be left with a clear and soft sheen. 

The coating itself leaves a crystal-clear finish. Since it does not cause any yellowing of surfaces, the product is ideal for light-colored and white stains. Not just limited to floors, it can be used on paneling, cabinets, and furniture.

This is a mid-range product that is lesser known. Although it works great, the product cannot be obtained easily in stores. Of course, online stores have bridged the gap, but availability remains an issue. Some users also faced issues of leveling, even with a good instruction manual.

Material: Polyurethane | Finish Type: Gloss | Coverage: 100 sq ft/qt | Drying Time: n/a

6. Rust-Oleum 298273

If your target is simply getting your floors protected, then the Rust-Oleum 298273 is the way to go. Rather than furniture, cabinets, and paneling, this product focuses more on protecting bigger areas like floors. It is well-suited for the floor of those homes that experience a lot of walking, running, and accidental scratching – specifically, homes with kids and pets.

The brand Rust-Oleum is known for having products that are rugged and robust. This product is no different – it has a thick and viscous feel. From the first coating itself, you can tell it is meant to form a hard and protective layer. 

One of the most affordable polyurethanes on our list – it provides the most value for money if durability is your main concern. Since the product is thick, just double coating may do the job of providing a scratch-resistant top layer that can fend off denting.

Coverage is not a big issue, especially since a gallon of the product can be bought at a bargain. The end result is, however, comparable to any good wood finish. 

As for application, it is easy to apply and has a self-leveling feature. In any case, coats do not have to be ultra-thin to achieve the signature semi-gloss of Rust-Oleum finishes. 

Thick consistency translates to a longer drying time. In humid conditions, the drying time may take up to 6-8 hours. In normal conditions, a nice and thick layer would take about 4 hours before you can add another coat of the product. 

Material: Water Based | Finish Type: Semi-Gloss | Coverage: n/a | Drying Time: n/a

Best Polyurethanes for Floors Comparison Table

Product Material Finish Type Coverage Drying Time
Minwax Water Based Oil-Modified Water based Satin 500 sq ft/gal 2 hours
Deft DFT257 Water Based Gloss n/a 2 hours
Bona Mega Semi-Gloss Polyurethane Semi-Gloss 600 sq ft/gal 2-3 hours
STREETSHOE Waterbased Waterbased Satin n/a 24 hours
ZAR 32512 Polyurethane Gloss 100 sq ft/qt n/a
RUST-OLEUM 298273 Water Based Semi-Gloss n/a n/a

Buying Guide for the Best Polyurethane for Floors

We have presented our pick of the best water-based polyurethane so that you may figure out what is the best to invest in. And it surely is an investment to make if you want your floors to last. 

Of course, the market also has its selection of high-quality oil-based polyurethane. In comparison, water-based finishes are a more expensive option. However, they are also the more environmentally friendly and time-saving of the two. What’s more, the wait time for each coat to dry is less, and the odor is appreciably milder.  

Among the water-based products themselves, there are other factors to look out for. Make a conscious decision only after going through our list of guidelines. 

  1. Coverage

Since multiple coatings are required for most jobs, calculate your expenditure based on the coverage of the product. 

Thinner products will naturally require more coatings. Apart from this, there is a lot of time involved in putting on multiple layers. Although it takes about 2 hours for most water-based poly to dry, we recommend you to wait about 24 hours before putting in more than 2 coatings.  

  1. Budget

Top-of-the-line polyurethane is definitely on the pricier side. Weigh your options knowing that low-quality polyurethane comes with its own disadvantages. It may not be smooth and it will be harder to apply.

Investing in a well-reviewed polyurethane will eliminate the hassle of making mistakes and having to redo floors. This means multiple rounds of sanding, vacuuming, coating, and drying. Although time is also a factor, this may lead to more wastage of materials. 

With budgeting in mind, our next point follows. 

  1. Professional or DIY

Are you willing to spend extra on hiring a professional, or prefer a DIY approach? Needless to say, some products will be easier to apply than others. Commercial-grade polyurethane made for professional use will definitely require some experience. 

If you are not relying on any outside help, we recommend you first try the product on a small patch. This should give you a basic idea and understanding of the coating thickness that is required, the kind of brushes that will do the best job, the time taken by a single layer to dry, and so on.

In the end, you must choose whether it is worth the investment – a good professional job can last up to 4 years.   

  1. Sheen and Color

Water-based polyurethane is known for its maple effect. If you don’t prefer the yellowed look on your floors, consider buying products with a clear finish. 

Different finishes have different effects that range from glossy, and semi-glossy to satin. These are just some of the other aesthetic factors that may sway your opinion. 

  1. Durability

Some polyurethane is specifically targeted for exterior use. Sturdier products will protect against UV rays and the extreme conditions of the outdoors. 

Indoors, you will find that some rooms suffer more foot traffic than others. These rooms will require top-notch products that are durable and can stand the test of time. Ideally, you want to pick a finish that will not have to be redone for at least two years.

How do I apply polyurethane to my floors?

To apply polyurethane to your floors, you must clean the surface and sand it down before applying the polyurethane with a brush or roller. Make sure to apply an even coat and let it dry completely before applying any additional coats.

How many coats of polyurethane should I apply to my floors?

It is recommended to apply at least two coats of polyurethane to your floors for optimal protection. Make sure to sand between each coat and let the polyurethane dry completely before applying additional coats.

How long does polyurethane take to dry?

It usually takes polyurethane between 6-8 hours to dry, depending on the humidity and temperature of the room.


Frequent cleaning is your best friend to retain the beautiful appearance of wooden flooring. For added protection, top finishes like polyurethane leave a protective film, creating that all-important buffer between the surface and the elements.

Not just a preventive measure – it is also a complete makeover. Buying the perfect fit may mean decades of gorgeous and shiny floors. 

After putting all our products side-by-side, we can conclude that Bona Mega 141 is a complete package of convenience, protection, and elegance. If you feel it is on the pricier side of things, go for the Minwax 710330000 model. This great find is priced very reasonably, and offers the convenience of water-based poly, with the gorgeous tint of the oil-based kind. 

You can’t go wrong with either of these two. In fact, just pick any from our list of the 7 best polyurethane, and soon you will be worshipping the ground that you walk on.

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