What is better: water based or oil based finish?

Q: We just bought a house and are having the floors professionally done. What is better: water based or oil based polyurethane finish?

A: I still believe an omu will out perform a water borne finish, but it depends on the situation. There are circumstances where a water borne is superior. I don’t know your situation…

Similar Q: We`re just about to have previously waxed hardwood floors professionally sanded and refinished with a sealed finish. We have had 2 estimates done, but both use very different products. One is oil-based, the other waterbourne. I`m finding it very confusing. I`ve checked out various sites comparing both but there seems to be as many opinions as sites. Could you help please?

A: Each type of finish carries with it certain advantages over the other. I’m still more convinced that oil or solvent finishes tend to have better long term durability because they take longer to set up and dry, therefore they actually penetrate better into the floor surface. Some of the higher end water borne finishes are very tough. This doesn’t mean they are necessarily very safe and environmentally friendly as they almost all use a cross linker containing Iso-cyanate. They tend to also be quite expensive compared to the solvent type counter parts. One distinct advantage a water borne may have with an old floor that has been waxed is that it won’t activate wax that is lodged between the boards, causing wax bleed out. If there are no personal issues with finish odour and slower cure times, I would tend to still go with the oil based finish.