Do you ever wonder what makes the best water-based polyurethane for floors different?

After trying 9 different products, Bona Mega Wood Floor Finish stood out. With years of experience in floor finishing, I can attest that Bona Mega is a game-changer. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Different polyurethane products are created due to nuances, scenarios, and specific needs. So, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a DIY enthusiast, there’s something here for everyone.

Read on to learn how Bona Mega, a water-based polyurethane, can transform your floor and why it is the best choice.

Our Top Picks

Best Water-Based Polyurethane for Floors

  1. Best Overall Water-Based Polyurethane Bona Mega Wood Floor Finish
  2. Best Bang for the Buck Bona Floor-Cleaners
  3. Best Satin Polyurethane for Interior Floor General Finishes High Performance
  4. Best Protective Polyurethane FinishMinwax Polycrylic Protective Finish
  5. Best for Sunny RoomsMinwax Helmsman Water-Based Spar Urethane
  6. Best Hybrid Water-Based PolyMinwax 710330000 Polyurethane
  7. Best for Achieving a High-Gloss Finish RUST-OLEUM FBA 230031 Varathane
  8. Best for Light Floors Minwax Ultimate Floor Finish
  9. Best for High Traffic Areas Varathane 230131 Crystal Clear Floor Finish

Best Water-Based Polyurethane for Floors (Updated Reviews)

Based on our research, here are the best water-based polyurethane reviews.

1. Best Overall Water-Based Polyurethane – Bona Mega Wood Floor Finish

Bona Mega Wood Floor Finish Satin 1 Gallon
  • An oxygen-crosslinking polyurethane (OCP) waterborne formula
  • One-component; No limited pot life and no wasted finish
  • Exceptional flow, leveling and build

The Bona Mega Wood Floor Finish in Satin is the best water-based polyurethane. Its innovative Oxygen-Crosslinking Polyurethane (OCP) waterborne formula sets it apart.

The exceptional flow and leveling properties of the Bona Mega ensure a smooth, flawless finish. I’ve tested countless wood finishes, but none match the ease and perfection of Bona Mega.

Compared to its competitors, Bona Mega stands out. It effortlessly outshines others in durability, scuff resistance, and abrasion resistance.

While some alternatives might offer similar features, the execution here is impeccable. It’s like comparing a high-performance sports car to an ordinary sedan.

I’ve used Bona Mega in different places, like busy areas and sunny rooms. In all scenarios, it excelled. Despite heavy use and harsh lighting, the finish stayed clear and shiny.

Bona Mega may seem pricier than its counterparts, but it’s worth every penny. You’re investing in unparalleled quality.

The Bona Mega Wood Floor Finish is a new way to finish wood floors. It’s easy to use, lasts long, and looks great.

This investment guarantees a floor finish that’s second to none, a true work of art. Don’t hesitate to pay more for excellence – it’s the best value for your money.


  • Exceptional flow, leveling, and build
  • Oxygen-crosslinking polyurethane (OCP) formula for unmatched durability
  • Crystal clear finish, even in challenging conditions
  • No wasted finish – a one-component solution
  • Resists stains and household chemicals like a champ


  • Premium price, but justifiable for the quality
  • Limited availability in gloss or semi-gloss finishes

2. Best Bang for the Buck – Bona Floor-Cleaners

Bona Hardwood Floor Polish - 32 fl oz - Low Gloss Shine - 32...
  • This product is not a floor cleaner
  • SAFE FOR HARDWOOD FLOORS: Designed to be safe for all unwaxed, unoiled, polyurethane finished wood floors
  • LOW GLOSS SHINE: Renew your hardwood floor with a durable low gloss shine

Before we discuss the details, let’s clarify that Bona Floor-Cleaners is not a floor cleaner. It is a type of polyurethane finish.

Bona Floor-Cleaners is a great, affordable choice to refresh and safeguard hardwood floors.

This finish is safe for all wood floors that don’t have wax, oil, or polyurethane. It’s like getting a protective shield for your hardwood, ensuring they remain in top condition.

Bona Floor-Cleaners allows you to renew hardwood floors with a durable, low-gloss shine. It returns the luster to your floors, making them look as good as new.

This product protects floors and covers small scratches to make them look even. This is like a facelift for your floors, making them look refreshed and vibrant.

With impressive coverage, one 32oz. Bottle can cover 500 square feet of flooring, and a 36oz. Bottle can cover 550 square feet. This means you get more for your money, making it cost-effective.

Bona Floor-Cleaners is certified to GREENGUARD standards. This means it has low chemical emissions when used. This makes it environmentally friendly.

Bona Floor-Cleaners are more affordable than Bona Mega Wood Floor Finish. People who want to protect and refresh their hardwood floors often choose them because they’re affordable. It fills the gap as a cost-effective option without compromising on quality.


  • Impressive coverage means more for your money
  • Affordable solution for renewing and protecting hardwood floors
  • Safe for various polyurethane-finished wood floors
  • Low gloss shine revives the floor’s appearance
  • Very low VOCs


  • Limited to low gloss may not suit those seeking a higher sheen finish.
  • Not as durable or abrasion-resistant as premium finishes

3. Best Satin Polyurethane for Interior Floor – General Finishes High Performance

General Finishes High Performance Water Based Topcoat, 1...
  • Do not apply clear topcoats over bright white paint, as yellowing may occur due to a reaction to the substrate. Light color paints may also experience yellowing due to topcoat application, but it will less noticeable.
  • The hardest, most durable consumer polyurethane top coat on the market today
  • Dry Time Between Coats is only 1 to 2 Hours

The General Finishes High Performance is the best satin polyurethane for interior floors. It is known for being very durable, making it perfect for people who want long-lasting floors.

I have used General Finishes High Performance on many indoor floors, and the results were amazing. The standout feature here is its unparalleled durability. This product protects your floors and fortifies them like a medieval castle.

The General Finishes High Performance is more durable. This water-based wood floor finish is one of the best polyurethane for stair treads.

Bona Mega and Bona Floor-Cleaners are good choices. Yet, for durable floors, General Finishes High Performance is the best option. It’s like choosing a tank over a regular car when you need that extra layer of protection.

I tried General Finishes High Performance in busy areas with kids, pets, and fancy dining rooms.

The durability remained strong and resisted damage, even in tough situations. It’s as if this product has a built-in shield, making your floors indestructible.

For the best satin polyurethane for your floors, choose General Finishes High Performance. It is durable, which makes your floors beautiful and resilient.


  • Unmatched durability for long-lasting results
  • Quick dry time between coats, saving time on your project
  • Suitable for high-traffic areas
  • Comes in a generous 1-gallon jug
  • The plastic gallon jug is environmentally friendly


  • Recommended for interior use only, limiting its versatility for outdoor projects.
  • Slightly pricier than some alternatives, but the added durability justifies the cost.

4. Best Protective Polyurethane Finish – Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish

1 qt Minwax 63333 Clear Polycrylic Water-Based Protective...
  • PROTECT WOOD SURFACES – Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish protects and adds beauty to your interior wood projects, including woodwork, furniture, doors and cabinets. The clear top coat protects against scratches, spills, dirt and more.
  • CRYSTAL CLEAR FINISH THAT LASTS – The crystal clear finished offered in this protective coating is ideal for use over all Minwax Oil-Based and Water-Based Stains and colors, as well as all wood species including light woods like maple, ash and birch.
  • SATIN SHEEN – Give your wood projects a sleek finish with a satin clear varnish. It not only protects the natural beauty of the wood, but offers an attractive, classic sheen for a modern and subtle look. It’s also non-yellowing, non-ambering and low odor.

Minwax Polycrylic is a special clear finish that stands out from other options.

Minwax Polycrylic is a great option for protecting wood furniture, doors, and cabinets inside. It creates a shield to protect your wood surfaces from scratches, spills, dirt, and more. This helps them last longer.

This coating protects wood and gives it a clear finish. It works with all Minwax Stains and wood types, including maple, ash, and birch.

It accentuates the natural beauty of the wood, offering an attractive satin sheen that lends a modern and subtle aesthetic.

Minwax Polycrylic boasts an ultra-fast drying formula, enabling swift recoating after 2 hours. This efficiency allows for accelerated project completion, enhancing productivity. A high-quality synthetic bristle brush ensures optimal application.

This wood finish is water-based, so you can easily clean it up with soap and water. You don’t need to worry about spills or messes. Additionally, it has a low odor, contributing to a more pleasant working environment.

General Finishes Water-Based is very durable for busy areas. Meanwhile, Minwax Polycrylic is a protective finish for wood projects that defends against scratches and spills.

Minwax Polycrylic is unique because it has a clear finish and works well on different types of wood, even light ones. The quick-drying nature of Minwax Polycrylic enables faster project completion.

This product is easy to clean because it uses water-based formulas. It focuses on being versatile and protective rather than extremely durable.


  • Exceptional wood protection against scratches and spills.
  • Crystal-clear finish complements various wood types.
  • Quick 2-hour drying time expedites project completion.
  • Easy soap and water cleanup for hassle-free maintenance.


  • It may not be as suitable for high-traffic areas as the first product.
  • Limited emphasis on extreme durability compared to General Finishes Water-Based.

5. Best for Sunny Rooms – Minwax Helmsman Water-Based Spar Urethane

Minwax Helmsman Water Based Spar Urethane, Quart, Gloss
  • PROTECTIVE CLEAR FINISH – Minwax Helmsman Water Based Spar Urethane is a crystal clear wood finish that is specially formulated to protect against nature’s toughest conditions.
  • EFFECTIVE YEAR ROUND – This wood varnish forms a protective barrier against rain and moisture to protect your projects and keep them looking their best. Special oils allow the finish to expand & contract with the wood as seasons and temperatures change.
  • VERSATILE – Ideal for use on doors, windows, trim, bathroom cabinets, bar tops, kitchen countertops, outdoor furniture and more. It’s a versatile water-based spar urethane that dries quickly and cleans up easily with warm water.

We discovered Minwax Helmsman Water-Based Spar Urethane, the top wood finish we sought. It has unique qualities that meet specific needs.

Minwax Helmsman is a clear wood finish that can withstand harsh weather conditions. It keeps your projects shiny by shielding them from rain, moisture, and other outdoor problems.

The wood varnish creates a strong barrier that adjusts to changes in seasons and temperature. The finish has special oils that let it expand and contract with the wood. This keeps your projects intact all year.

Minwax Helmsman is versatile. It can be used on doors, windows, and countertops. It’s also great for bathroom cabinets, bar tops, and outdoor furniture.

It’s a water-based spar urethane that dries swiftly and cleans up easily with warm water.

A glossy clear varnish gives wood projects a polished finish, enhancing their aesthetic appeal. It protects the natural beauty of wood and gives it a shiny, modern appearance. It works especially well on light-colored wood and stains.

This product is from Minwax, a brand known for wood finishing and care since 1904. Minwax Helmsman shows how the brand inspires people to make wood look amazing.


  • Exceptional protection against environmental elements.
  • Year-round durability with wood expansion and contraction.
  • Versatile application on various surfaces.
  • Glossy, modern finish ideal for light-colored woods.
  • Backed by Minwax’s trusted brand reputation.


  • It may not be the best choice for strictly indoor wood finishing projects.
  • The glossy finish differs from the previous satin sheen, catering to diverse aesthetic preferences.

6. Best Hybrid Water-Based Poly – Minwax 710330000 Polyurethane

Minwax Water Based Oil-Modified Polyurethane, Warm Satin,...
  • PROTECT WOOD SURFACES – Minwax Oil-Modified Polyurethane Wood Finish protects and adds beauty to interior projects, including woodwork, floors & more. The water-based clear top coat combines superior durability with the beauty of traditional polyurethane.
  • OIL-BASED DURABLE FINISH – Clear finish provides long-lasting protection and warm beauty to both finished and unfinished wood projects. Protective coating is ideal for woodwork, furniture, doors, cabinets & floors, and is available in a variety of sheens.
  • SATIN SHEEN – Give your wood projects a sleek finish with this satin clear varnish. It not only protects the natural beauty of the wood, but offers a soft, unique sheen for a modern, cozy and on-trend look.

At first glance, the name of this water-based poly for floors is quite confusing. What does it mean to have a water-based, oil-modified polyurethane? Better yet, what kind of outcome can you expect?

When Minwax came up with what many thought was a crazy idea, they happened to strike the perfect balance between the quick drying of water-based polyurethane and the added glow of oil-based polyurethane.

In just two hours, this water-based floor finish is dry and ready for a second coat. Unlike some of its competitors, however, you need to sand it before applying the next coat. It also needs at least three coats.

Even though this topcoat dries clear, you may not want to use it on light-colored hardwood. Like an oil-based polyurethane, it will add a bit of an amber tint to lighter colors, though not to the same degree as an oil-based poly.

Some people like the Minwax for that reason because it makes the beauty of the wood pop.

Another benefit of being a hybrid is that it can be applied with a broader range of tools. You can use a synthetic bristle brush, a foam brush, or a lambswool applicator. When you’re done, these can be easily cleaned with warm water, making this a very convenient waterborne floor finish.


  • It can be applied with a wide range of tools
  • Quite affordable
  • Dries quickly
  • It has little odor


  • It needs to be sanded between coats
  • It changes the color of light woods

7. Best for Achieving a High-Gloss Finish – RUST-OLEUM FBA 230031 Varathane

RUST-OLEUM 230031 Varathane Gallon Gloss Waterborne Diamond...
  • 1-Gallon can
  • Elegant design and Finish
  • The product is manufactured in United States

Varathane is famous for making durable finishes that are easy to use and dry quickly. This water-based floor finish ticks all these boxes.

When applied, you get a crystal-clear finish that makes you forget that you had to apply four coats to get there. However, given how quickly it dries, the extra coat might not be a problem.

Rust-Oleum suggests you wait for the first coat to be dry and hard to the touch. This can take an hour to four, depending on your location and how well you follow the instructions.

This water-based polyurethane resists scuffs and sticking and avoids scratches very well. So you won’t find many negative reviews. The most common bone of contention is that the can says it is ‘No Odor”.

If you’re new to polyurethanes, it’s important to know that no odor means it’s much less than other types. It is not odorless. So, you’ll need to keep the room ventilated and wear a respirator when applying it.

The only negative is avoiding using it on white paint, which causes discoloration. However, as mentioned before, this is common with most water-based polyurethanes.


  • Very little odor
  • Quick-drying time
  • Easy to clean
  • Superior scuff, adhesion, and scratch resistance


  • It shouldn’t be used on white or pastel paints
  • Needs at least four coats

8. Best for Light Floors – Minwax Ultimate Floor Finish

Minwax 131030000 Utimate Floor Finish, Satin, 128 Fl Oz
  • DURABLE CLEAR SATIN FINISH – Minwax Hardwood Floor Sealer works well for any hardwood floor and is ideal for light-colored woods & stains. It does not amber over time. The self-crosslinking technology provides a tough floor finish.
  • WATER-BASED FORMULA – The water-based formula of the hardwood floor finish means it is lower in odor than traditional solvent-based polyurethanes and has an easy clean-up with just soap & water.
  • EASY TO APPLY – Easily apply the hardwood floor sealer using a synthetic pad applicator, without the need to sand between coats.

The perfect finish for light-colored wood floors demands the right product that avoids the unsightly ambering effect and allows natural beauty to shine.

Minwax Ultimate Floor Finish fits this bill precisely. This polyurethane is made with water and has a special formula. It makes the floor strong and doesn’t turn it yellow. It’s great for light wood floors.

Applying the Ultimate Floor Finish is a breeze, whether you opt for a brush or roller. It dries fast, so you can apply a second coat in 2 hours without sanding.

This efficiency enables DIY enthusiasts to complete an entire floor in a single day. One gallon covers 400-500 square feet. It takes 24-72 hours to dry.

The only problem is that it’s hard to find, except on Amazon. Thus, ensuring you order an adequate amount is advisable.


  • Provides a durable, beautifying finish for light-colored floors
  • Resists ambering, preserving the pristine look of light wood floors
  • Quick drying time between coats, eliminating the need for sanding


  • Availability can be limited, so prudent ordering is essential.

9. Best for High Traffic Areas – Varathane 230131 Crystal Clear Floor Finish

Varathane 230131 Crystal Clear Floor Finish, Semi-Gloss 1...
79 Reviews
Varathane 230131 Crystal Clear Floor Finish, Semi-Gloss 1...
  • Water-based wood floor finish
  • Crystal clear waterborne - Non-yellowing
  • Highest solids of any water-based floor finish

Finally, we come to Varathane 230131 Crystal Clear Floor Finish. It is a shining example of top-tier water-based products meeting stringent quality standards.

Its remarkable ability to endure heavy traffic in bustling areas distinguishes it as a standout choice.

Give it enough time to dry and harden to make it more resistant to scuffs and scratches. This is because of the special formula with aluminium oxide nanotechnology.

Varathane’s 230131 polyurethane is different from others. It is made to enhance the beauty of wood by showing its natural color and grain patterns.

After it dries, this water-based polyurethane makes wooden floors shiny and transparent, which most people like.


  • Crystal-clear finish
  • Exceptional scratch resistance
  • Low odor during application
  • Speedy drying process
  • Robust protection for finished floors


  • Application may need extra coats for optimal results
  • Primarily suited for unpainted surfaces

How Reliable is Water-based Poly for Floors?

If you have read several blogs and watched woodworkers talk about polyurethane, you may have heard water-based poly is less durable than oil-based polyurethane.

While this was once the case, it is no longer valid. Oil-based polyurethane is indeed thicker than water-based, but they both dry hard. Once cured, their scuff and scratch resistance level is about the same.

It then becomes a matter of how good the product is.

So, does that mean both types offer the same benefits? Not quite. Each type has pros and cons; understanding these will help you make an informed decision.

water-based polyurethane for floors

Advantages of Using Water-based Flooring Finishes

Fast Drying Time

Water-based polyurethane has the first and most significant advantage over oil-based polyurethane because it dries considerably faster.

All the products we reviewed can be dry and ready for another coat in at least two hours, while some have been known to be dry in one.

This is unheard of for oil-based polyurethane. Even the super fast-drying oil-based polyurethanes aren’t dry for at least four hours, and that will be considered slow for a water-based polyurethane.

With such a quick turnaround, you can apply three or even four coats of a waterborne finish on the same day. Oil-based products, on average, can take only one coat a day and need three coats. So, water-based allows you to finish the job in a third of the time.

You Don’t Always Need to Sand Between Coats

One of the most frustrating parts is sanding between coats of poly during application. You first need to wait for the coat to dry, then sand it, further delaying the project.

In addition, having to sand a large floor space, whether residential or commercial, is labor-intensive and disheartening.

Thankfully, that isn’t a problem for most water-based polyurethanes, especially with the Bonas.

You can apply the next coat while the previous one is still a bit moist, as long as the surface is clean, because water-based poly tends to adhere better.

Oil-based polyurethane typically needs to be abraded so that each coat sticks better. Still, even when a product doesn’t need sanding, it’s not worth the risk.

This, by the way, is one of the reasons why water-based polyurethanes have become more popular.

Low Odor

floor water-based polyurethane

Working for hours while wearing a respirator can be uncomfortable, but that is the best option when working with oil-based polyurethane. The smell can be so overpowering that some people say it makes them dizzy, even in a well-ventilated room.

Water-based polyurethane is your only option if you can’t stand strong smells. Some products, like the Varathane and Bona Floor-Cleaners, are almost odorless, but others are not nearly as strong as oil-based alternatives.

A few oil-based polyurethanes don’t give off a strong smell, but they still can’t compare with these. If you are to use oil-based polyurethane, here’s how to eliminate polyurethane odor.

Low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

VOCs are notorious for causing various medical conditions, including cancer. Unfortunately, so many household products contain them they are virtually impossible to avoid.

However, it is possible to limit our exposure. One way to do that is to use water-based polyurethane instead of oil-based polyurethane. This is one reason why manufacturers have slowly phased out oil-based polyurethanes.

New regulations require household products not to exceed certain levels of VOC emissions. These levels can easily be met with water-based polyurethane.

Does not Change Color Over Time

What you get is what you see with water-based finishes.

Unless applied on white paint, water-based polyurethane dries clear, and it remains clear for the lifespan of the finish. This differs from oil-based polyurethane, which dries with an amber hue and gets more yellow over time.

This means that if you are using a light-colored hardwood floor, the natural brightness of the wood won’t change when you apply water-based polyurethane. The same goes for dark-colored woods.

This makes water-based polyurethane the more dynamic option of the two.

Disadvantages of Using Water-based Polyurethane Floor Finishes

It is More Expensive

wood floor water-based polyurethane

The major knock against water-based polyurethane is the price. Cans of water-based topcoats can be as much as two to three times more expensive than oil-based alternatives. However, the difference is usually just a few dollars.

However, water-based polyurethane makes up for this in other ways. You’ll save money here if you choose a product that doesn’t need sanding. You also finish the task significantly quicker, meaning you can move on to the next task.

With the proper application, therefore, using water-based poly could be cheaper.

Not as Stain Resistant

Water-based polyurethane has exceeded oil-based poly in many ways. Now, it might even be more durable. But the one thing it can’t seem to get right is stain resistance. 

When animals go to town on water-based polyurethane, it changes the color of the finish. Of course, this isn’t true for all products, but it is the case with a sufficient number. As such, some people argue that this type of polyurethane is not pet or child-friendly.

However, you can guard against this by reading reviews and buying better-quality polyurethanes.

Requires More Coats

Water-based polyurethane needs more coats than oil-based polyurethane because it raises the wood grain. As a result, you often need more coats to get a smooth finish.

When this happens, you may also need to sand between coats. However, due to the fast drying time of the poly, it is still more efficient than oil-based polyurethane.

How to Choose the Best Water-Based Polyurethane for Floors

As you can see from the pros and cons, there is much to desire and be wary of when choosing the best water-based floor finish. Even though the options we provided are some of the best on the market, the following tips will help you choose the right one.

The location of the hardwood floors

The first thing to consider when choosing a water-based polyurethane is where to apply it. The location of the floors will tell you the strength of the poly you need and the sheen.

All water-based polyurethanes are durable, but some are better suited for high-traffic areas, such as the General Finishes topcoat. High-traffic areas are kitchens, entryways, and hallways.

For living rooms, studies, and low-traffic areas, you probably don’t need to spend the extra cash on these two.

The location of the floor will also help you choose the right sheen or luster. The four options are

  • Matte is suitable for high-traffic areas, as it will better hide any wear and tear.
  • Satin – Like Matte, Satin is great for high-traffic areas.
  • Semi-gloss – Best for low-traffic areas such as rooms used by adults not wearing shoes
  • Gloss-It makes the wood look shinier, and since it won’t see a lot of traffic, you won’t need to refinish the floor for at least a decade.

Some companies call matte flat, and some sell gloss as high gloss.

The higher the sheen, the more light it reflects and the more imperfections it shows. What the sheen doesn’t do is determine durability.

Not every product has a gloss finish, but they all have the rest.

VOC emissions

If you are concerned about your health and the environment, you should prioritize choosing a low emissions product. All polyurethanes are recommended to display the VOC level, although some companies try to hide them.

From our list, Bona Floor-Cleaners has the lowest with 150 g/L. General Finishes flat sheen comes second with 170, marginally less than the satin (172) and the semi-gloss (173).


Polyurethane product durability significantly impacts its lifespan. Water-based polyurethane offers 3 to 5 years of peak performance, while varnish or oil-based polyurethane can last 7 to 10 years.

Several factors influence longevity: High-traffic zones wear quicker, necessitating high-traffic formula use. Sunlit areas in front of windows degrade faster due to UV rays, demanding more frequent refinishing.

Conversely, low-traffic, shaded spaces may extend the finish’s life beyond 5 years. Consider these factors when choosing polyurethane for your project to ensure it remains resilient and aesthetically pleasing for an optimal duration.


After you have narrowed down the best product for the usage area and the one least harmful to your health, the next logical step is to look at the costs.

This mustn’t be first because it can lead to disastrous consequences. As good as the Minwax is (the cheapest of the lot), it is not suited for commercial use. And as great as the Traffic HD is, it is a waste of money for a low-traffic pad.

Besides the location and emissions, there isn’t much that separates these products, so anyone you choose will be excellent.

Drying time

If we were comparing oil- or water-based polyurethanes from all over the market, this would be higher than the price.

But there isn’t much to evaluate when comparing the best of the best. All of them deliver exceptional drying and curing time.

General Finishes has a slight advantage because it can be dry in as little as an hour, but so can the Minwax. However, even the slowest of the bunch can be ready for a recoat in three hours, allowing you to apply three coats in one day.

Maintenance and cleaning

Polyurethane-finished flooring offers a major advantage in terms of effortless cleaning and maintenance.

You can use this protective coating on hardwood or other surfaces. It allows for safe and thorough mopping. Just be careful not to use too much water or soap.

To keep the surface nice, stop dust and dirt from building up. They can damage the polyurethane by scratching and wearing it away.

Regular sweeping suffices to keep it in good condition. If the finish looks old, you can use a little floor wax to make it shiny again. This will keep your floors clean and looking nice.

Ease of application

water-based polyurethane for wooden floors

Whichever product you buy will be relatively easy to apply. But you can still learn how to apply water-based polyurethane to hardwood floors.

What sets them apart is if you need to sand between coats, how many coats you need, and the tools you can use.

Varathane requires at least four coats, and you also need to sand between coats. That’s a double whammy! It makes up for this with its superior drying time, but this is still a problem.

The Bona Floor-Cleaner doesn’t need sanding between coats, but you must mix the two components and then go through the hassle of fine-straining it.

Bona Mega does not require sanding between coats, although you can if warranted. It also comes in just one tub, making it the easiest to apply.


How many coats of water-based polyurethane should be applied?

Most experts and manufacturers say to use at least three coats of water-based polyurethane for good results. Some people use four, which means more sanding and waiting for it to dry. Stick to three for a simpler and quicker job. The coats do not take long to dry.

Can I sand between the coats of water-based polyurethane?

Yes. Sanding between coats of water-based polyurethane is essential for achieving a smooth finish. Most top-rated polyurethane products for floors recommend using 220-grit sandpaper. Be sure to clean the floor well between coats. To clean and polish the surface, use sweeping, vacuuming, and a tack cloth after sanding.

Which is the superior choice for floors, water-based or oil-based polyurethane?

Water- and oil-based polyurethanes are suitable for flooring, each with distinct advantages. Water-based options dry rapidly, emit fewer odors, and are more environmentally friendly. Conversely, oil-based polyurethanes offer greater durability and need less frequent maintenance. Your choice depends on what you need most. A faster, greener finish or a durable, low-maintenance option.

What is the Best Water-based Polyurethane for Floors

Choosing the right water-based polyurethane can make a big difference in floor finishes. The Bona Mega Wood Floor Finish is the standout winner on our list.

It’s a testament to its exceptional quality, ease of use, and long-lasting results. This product proves you don’t need to compromise on beauty or durability.

Whether experienced or a DIY fan, the right water-based polyurethane can make your floors shine.

4 thoughts on “Best Water-Based Polyurethane for Floors”

  1. Ur article was really helpful. A little question. I put a single coat of varathane water based polyurethane on a freshly sanded floor. But now i changed my mind and want to stain the floor cos I don’t see any change after the first coat of polyurethane. Any suggestions as to what I shld stain my floors with and how to go about it. Help plzzzz

    • Sand again, be sure that all of the varnish is removed. You may need to test for consistent porosity across the floor with water. Any remaining sealed areas will not take the stain and will be a light patch. Another culprit could be in the seams, like glue-ups.


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