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Denver and Boulder Colorado Hardwood Flooring Installation

About Waterborne Floor Finishing

For many customers, oil-based finish and the fumes and inconvenience associated with it prompt them to choose a waterborne finish.

Waterborne floor finish technology has only been around for about fifteen years, so these finishes do not share the time-tested reputation for durability that oil base finishes enjoy.

In spite of this, waterborne products have had great success for many years, and as the technology becomes more and more advanced, waterborne floor finishes will ultimately pass oil base finish in both popularity and availability.

Waterborne finish is an air-drying urethane-acrylic emulsion. Waterborne finish technology is a relatively recent innovation, and therefore waterborne finish products have yet to earn the same reputation for durability that oil base finish is currently associated.

However, we at Alpine Flooring feel that the waterborne finish products we use are at the leading edge of this relatively new technology, and these products will give you results very similar to the results we (also) achieve with oil-based finishes.


The primary advantage of waterborne finish products is that they do not contain the same solvents that oil base finish does, and are therefore much less toxic and allow our customers to get back into their homes a little sooner.

Most residential floors require two to three coats of waterborne finish, with each coat only requiring about an hour dry time. Upon completion of the final coat, normal foot traffic may resume after 24 hours.

Waterborne floor finishes are also available for purchase for do-it-yourself maintenance coating, which can help keep down long-term maintenance costs. Ease of application also makes waterborne floor finishes the best choice for customers who anticipate doing maintenance coating themselves.

Waterborne finishes vary slightly in appearance from oil base finish as well and can also appear 'rougher' or 'less smooth' than the oil base finish. This is due to the fact that waterborne finish can and often will raise the grain of wood thereby causing the flooring to be rough. This only happens with the first coat.

After that, the wood is sealed enough so as not to be affected by consecutive coats. This problem can usually be eliminated by using a special alcohol based sealer. The alcohol in this sealer does not raise the grain thereby creating a barrier coat between the raw wood and that first coat of waterborne finish which would otherwise raise the grain. This will give you the warm, slightly tinted appearance that you can have with the oil-based, but less severe.


Regardless of the type of finish you choose, the single most important factor determining how long the finish will last on your floor is what type and the degree of traffic to which your floor is subjected.

A home with 2 adults, 2 children, and a dog, for example, will need its floors maintained much sooner and with greater frequency than a single-occupant, no-pet household.

Denver and Boulder Colorado's Alpine Flooring does approximately the same number of floors with each type of finish and would be happy to discuss the best choice for your home.

Simply click here to send us a message, or call 303-884-8020