Q: How do you feel about the durability of water-based finishes containing aluminum oxide? my installer wants to use it, he says he will use 3 coats, or I stick with an oil based poly. The less fumes and recoat time is appealing to me.
A: You can use a water borne finish, but I would definitely suggest staying away from Aluminum oxide coatings. Most pre finished floors are such or ceramic. While very abrasion resistant, eventually they will need a buff and coat to refresh the finish. This is near to impossible to achieve successfully. If the smell and slower dry times of oil based finishes bothers you, there are excellent, but expensive, high end water borne finishes that can be used. To name a few, products by Bona Kemi, Basic Coating or Dura Seal are used widely in the flooring industry.
I asked the opinion of a man who has been involved in finish creation and production with more than one large company, and his opinion that these are to be avoided. One product he mentioned had too much particle and looked terrible when it dried. One offered by another company only really has a very small quantity in it, and he does not believe it would offer any significant wear advantage. You can get good wear from good finishes without adding this kind of stuff, and at least down the road you will be able to freshen it up without having to do the full sanding all over again.