If you want to add value to your home or are maybe just looking to spruce things up, you might consider refinishing your home’s hardwood floors. There are many options out there for finishing your hardwood floors.

Your lifestyle, design choices, and just how much wear and tear your floors will be taking, will ultimately determine what type of hardwood floor finish you need.

Our comprehensive guide will make finding the best hardwood floor finish quick and easy for you!

Top 10 Hardwood Floor Finishes Comparison Table

PictureNameFinish TypePriceRating (1-5)
Finish Type
Rating (1-5)
1. General Finishes Semi-Gloss EF High Performance Polyurethane, Pint Water-based Polyurethane$$4.7
2. Johnson Wax 16 Oz Fine Wood Paste Wax 00203 Paste Wax$4.6
3. Trewax Paste Wax, Clear, 12.35-Ounce Paste Wax$$4.5
4. RUST-OLEUM 230231 Satin Water Floor Finish Water-based Polyurethane$$$4.6
5. Bona Traffic HD Commercial Semi-Gloss Water-based Polyurethane$$$$4.5
6. Minwax 785004444 Paste Finishing Wax Paste Wax$4.7
7. ZAR 33912 Antique Flat Ultra Fast Drying Polyurethane Oil-based Polyurethane$$4.4
8. Trewax Gold Label Sealer Wax, Satin (Non-Slip) Finish, 32-Ounce Liquid Wax$4.3
9. Bona Traffic Anti-Slip Satin Water-based Polyurethane$$$$4.3
10. Diamond Brite Paint 71000 5-Gallon Clear Gloss Polyurethane Oil-based Polyurethane$$$$4.1

Buying Information

Don’t pick your hardwood floor finish before first reading this section.

Finishes for hardwood floors come in several different types. Listed below are some simple descriptions as well as some pros and cons for each type of finish.

  • Wax. Wax is the traditional, time-tested finish for hardwood floors, making it a great choice for antique floors in historic homes. It comes in both paste and liquid forms. It offers a low-sheen, non-toxic finish and is a great choice for those who are environmentally conscious or those who are simply worried about chemicals in their home.

Wax is very user-friendly and is best applied by hand in small sections at a time. It offers very simple maintenance and is easy to complete spot touch-ups over time, which is good considering that it is not quite as durable as some other finishes.

  • Water-Based Polyurethane. Water-based Polyurethane has a quick drying time and won’t yellow your wood floors like its oil-based counterparts. This variety tends to be more expensive, yet less durable than oil-based poly. The advantage, however, is the low odor and low VOC (volatile organic compounds) content. VOCs create fumes that often cause headaches in consumers. This is a great option for hardwood floors being finished while the dwelling is occupied or for families who need to use their floors right away.
  • Oil-Based Polyurethane. A popular choice among professional finishers, oil-based polyurethane is tough, long-lasting, and relatively inexpensive. Oil-based polyurethane has a strong odor and high VOCs, so is best applied to floors in unoccupied dwellings.
  • Acid-Cured Finishes. Best when professionally applied, acid-cured finishes are the most durable and expensive of all hardwood floor finishes. This is a great choice for high-end homes, exotic wood, or floors with intricate inlay designs.
  • Moisture-Cured Urethane. This extremely durable finish is a great choice for high-traffic areas or homes with children and dogs. It is expensive but worth the extra money for its tough durability. It is tricky to apply since it dries rather quickly. It is best when done by a professional.
  • Penetrating Oil Sealer. Easy to apply, and a great choice for DIY-ers, oil sealer is a great way to protect your hardwood floors. It enhances the grain patterns and deepens the natural color of the wood. It is another great choice for historic homes and antique floors.

Top 3 Best Hardwood Floor Finish Reviews

1. General Finishes High Performance Polyurethane

This lower-sheen finish will add a smooth and professional touch to your hardwood flooring project. It is easy to use, even for the inexperienced homeowner. Two to four coats are all it takes to create a beautiful, yet durable finish.

This high-performance polyurethane contains an ultraviolet stabilizer to protect your floors from discoloring over time. It is also very stain resistant, so is a great choice for higher traffic areas or homes with children and pets. It is an economical option and certainly the best hardwood floor finish on the market today.

For easy-to-apply, inexpensive, yet durable protection, you can’t go wrong with General Finishes Semi-Gloss High-Performance.

2. Johnson Wax Fine Wood Paste Wax

SC Johnson wax has been a reliable choice for hardwood floors for generations. It will bring life to tired and worn antique floors but is also a great choice for a natural look on newly installed hardwoods.

Creating a rich, satiny finish, this wax seals and protects while bringing out the natural beauty of the wood. Also a great option for furniture and other wood surfaces, SC Johnson Wax is easy to use and very affordable.

If you want a name you can trust and enhanced beauty on your hardwood floors, then SC Johnson Wax is the way to go.

3. Trewax Paste Wax, Clear, 12.35-Ounce

Made from Brazilian carnauba wax, which is considered to be one of the hardest waxes around, Trewax Paste Wax provides clear, durable protection for your hardwood floors.

It is easy to apply and doesn’t look like wax at all. It actually provides an almost satin finish but doesn’t change the color of the wood. It is easy to apply with just a simple cloth, has very little odor, and cleans up easily as a breeze. This product is a great choice for a low-sheen non-toxic finish to your home’s hardwood floors.

Give this paste wax a try, and you’ll find yourself in awe of the results.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Hardwood Floor Finish is Best for Dogs?

Use lighter colors since they show fewer scratches and dirt. Consider oil-based polyurethane finishes which are great for households with pets and heavy foot traffic. They conceal scratches and dirt better than other finishes.

How Can I Tell if My Hardwood is Sealed?

You can tell if a floor has been sealed by rubbing your finger against it. If there are no smudges, then this is surface-level treatment and should last for years to come.

However, if you do create one of these small marks on the smoothness of their finish, you know that means they’ve applied an oil or lacquer over another type of sealant (like shellac).


After reading our comprehensive guide, you should be able to make an informed decision on what type of hardwood floor finish will work best for your home. We hope that this article has given you some useful information about the different types of finishes available and why they’re important in determining how well your floors will last over time.

If there are any questions left unanswered after reading, please don’t hesitate to contact us!