Oil vs. Water

Taking care of your sports floors can come with many decisions, and when you’re investing in the practicality and aesthetics of your gym, you want to be sure you’re making the right ones. One of the decisions you’ll be making is between water-based vs. oil-based finishes, both of which have pros and cons that you’ll need to consider. 

At Sports Floors, we make it a priority to give you the long-lasting, quality sports flooring you deserve. We take all of your needs and goals into account and have the expert knowledge to back up every decision. If you’re wondering whether water-based or oil-based finishes are right for your floor, let our team explain. 

Why do I need a finish? 

Finishes are extremely important for the maintenance of your gym flooring. A good finish will protect your floors from scratches, scuffs, and dents so that they will stand the test of time. Both water-based and oil-based floor finishes are made from a material called polyurethane. There are a few differences between the types of polyurethane available, but choosing one of the two is necessary to keep your floors looking fresh for years to come. 

Color Changes

Choosing between water-based and oil-based finishes sometimes comes down to the particular color you want to bring out in the wood. Oil-based finishes add color and depth to your wood floor by ambering a bit each year. Water-based finishes dry clear, leaving the wood’s original color to show through the finish.  See the pictures below of Christian Brothers High School. Their gym floor was done with oil-based finish for years. In 2020, they switched to water-based to keep the natural wood tone. 

Water-Based Finish vs. Oil-Based Finish
Water-Based Finish vs. Oil-Based Finish

Durability

Many hardwood flooring experts argue whether a water-based finish is better than an oil-based finish and vice-versa. While oil-based finishes used to be the leader in durability for sports floors without question, water-based finishes have come up the curve in the past few decades, meaning neither one is necessarily more durable. 

When it comes to durability, the most important aspect is hiring a professional to apply whichever finish you choose. Working with Sports Floors is your best bet for ensuring your gym floor stays shiny and safe for athletes. With over 25 years of experience maintaining floors for high schools and NBA teams alike, we have the skillset to ensure your finishes stand the test of time.

Cost

When you’re deciding between a water-based or oil-based finish, the cost is probably one of your most important considerations. A  high-quality water-based finish will cost up to two to three times as much as an oil-based finish. However, the cost of finishes isn’t as simple as the initial cost. Some water-based finish systems require two coats to be applied. 

Saving on the cost of your flooring means choosing to work with professionals like Sports Floors, Inc. Do-it-yourself projects may sound like a great way to make your sports flooring cheaper, but you’re sacrificing the quality of the court when you try to finish a floor yourself. Without the years of experience and training that our sports floor team has at their disposal, you risk mistakes like bubbling that could cost more to fix in the long run. 

Dry Time 

There is no question that applying a polyurethane finish, whether water or oil-based, takes time and a lot of it. When finishing a hardwood floor, especially a gym floor with a high surface area, you’ll need to dedicate several days to drying. 

Oil-based finishes take the most time to dry. You can expect to wait three to five days for an oil-based finish to dry completely. Then your gym floor is ready for use. 

Water-based finishes require less time overall. This fast-drying finish can be applied and recoated in the same 24-hour period. It takes about 24-36 hours, depending on environmental conditions, for the water-based finish to cure. 

Safety Considerations

Water-based finishes are generally more environmentally friendly and have less of a lingering aroma than oil-based finishes. 

Water-Based Finish vs. Oil-Based Finish

Choose Sports Floors, Inc.

Remember that your floor’s finish is not only what makes your floor shine but what keeps it safe for the athletes that play on the court. Our team has maintained gym floor finishes for more than 25 years. At Sports Floors, we only use the highest quality Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association (MFMA) approved seals and finishes that have been tested by a third party to meet or exceed performance and durability standards so that you can feel comfortable with the experts on your side. 

Making sure your gym floor is properly finished correctly is the key to a beautiful-looking floor. Of course, we finish every new floor we build, but we don’t just set it and forget it. Sports Floors, Inc. is your partner for your court and your entire gym.

If you’re considering installing or finishing your gym’s hardwood floors, don’t risk the cost and labor of a DIY project. Instead, call Sports Floors, Inc. today!