Kermans Blog

Don’t overlook your hardwood floor finish

Published: February 9, 2016
Dark, hardwood floor subtly reflects light because of its finish
copyright: Unlisted Images/Corbis

When you’re shopping for hardwood flooring you’re most likely focused on wood type, grain and color. Those factors are certainly important when selecting the best hardwood floor for your home. The wood type in particular has a long-lasting impact simply because of its hardness factor. Another hardwood floor option that is sometimes overlooked by Indianapolis homeowners? Hardwood finish.

The finish you choose for your hardwood floor has a big impact on how it looks and how well it stands up to everyday wear and tear. We’ve broken down the two most common finish options and their advantages.

Choosing the right hardwood finish

A surface finish is added to hardwood floors as a protective coating and the type of finish has an impact on its appearance and durability. Surface finishes are durable, water-resistant and make regular maintenance simple. When choosing the type of finish for your wood floors consider your lifestyle and cleaning preferences. While many manufacturers prefinish their hardwood floors, you will sometimes still have a choice between oil-based and water-based finishes. What’s the difference?

Oil-based hardwood finish

The most common wood floor finish is polyurethane – technically polyurethane-modified oil.


    A lighter finish on this hardwood floor matches the bright kitchen design.

  • Adds color – darkening dark woods and adding an amber affect to light woods
  • Enhances the natural grain
  • Satin finishes are available for a natural look that shows less wear and tear
  • Provides a substantial build on the floor that gives a rich depth to the wood

Water-based hardwood finish

Water-based finishes are clear, very durable and will resist turning yellow over time.


  • Lets the natural color of the wood shine through
  • Will not discolor or yellow over time
  • More environmentally friendly
  • Good stain resistance

Which is better: a shiny or matte finish on hardwood? 

It really is a matter of preference. Satin gloss finishes offer the most shine and will reflect the most light. Semi-gloss finishes offer some shine and reflection. While satin or matte finishes are less reflective. Generally speaking, the less shine – the less you will notice wear and tear. Learn more about the types of hardwood floor available.

Think about hardwood floor care when shopping for your hardwood floor

Hardwood floors do require a type of care that is different from other floors. We’ve compiled some guidelines to help you keep your hardwood floors looking like new for years to come. Download our free hardwood care guide for simple hardwood maintenance tips.

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