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Q.Which type of floor finish provides the most durable coating, oil-based polyurethanes or water-based polyurethanes?

A.Second-generation floor finisher Michael Purser, of the Rosebud Co. in Atlanta, responds: Both products are good, but my preference is for waterborne urethanes, which were introduced for residential use around 1987. They stumbled out of the starting blocks with a few problems, but those were dealt with fairly quickly. Since then, waterborne urethanes have consistently gotten better and better. I have no qualms about saying that some of the waterborne products available today are the finest coatings ever formulated for use on wood floors. And the technology continues to improve.

Specifically, these waterborne products wear better and are more easily maintained than oil-modified urethanes. They have excellent drying and curing times, and good color stability. And, for me, the lack of noxious and hazardous vapors makes them a no-brainer. I admit that there can be problems if you aren't careful about the moisture content in wood, application technique, temperature and relative humidity, and air movement during the curing, but I will gladly pay attention to those variables to work with such good products. Waterbornes are also more expensive than oil-modified urethanes but not prohibitively so.

I occasionally look at new products and manufacturers in the market, but by and large, I use waterborne products by companies with a proven track record and product line. I have had good results over the years with products from Basic Coatings (800/441-1934, and BonaKemi (800/574-4674,