A.Michael Purser responds: I am confident that water-based finishes will perform as well or better than oil-based products, if the installer takes the time to master some new application techniques. Waterborne finishes have been used for years in high-traffic areas, such as gyms and racquetball courts.

Waterborne floor finishes have a low viscosity — that is, they’re watery — so the finish penetrates deep into the wood. While this increases their durability it can also create some application problems that you’ve got to master.

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