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Matte- Satin- Semi-gloss- High gloss

How does flooring luster measurement work?

The “sheen” or luster of a flooring depends on how the flooring surface reflect light from a certain angle. Gloss meters are used to measure the luster of the flooring. They measure the amount reflected from light that is aimed at the floor. The “scale” is then created, with “Matte”, the least reflective and glossy finish, at one end and “High Gloss”, the most shiny, reflective, and shiny finish, on the other.

Will polyurethane change the color of hardwood floors?

Simple answer: It depends if you are using an oil-based polymer or a polyurethane-based polymer.

The oil-based poly has a yellowish tint. As a natural finish, it can be applied to hardwood floors. Over time, the floor will turn a golden oak color. Over time, this happens.It may darken the color of your hardwood floor if you stain it with a lighter shade. The yellow color of the polyurethane won’t have any effect at all on dark stained hardwood floors. Oil-based polyurethane can ruin a grayed or white washed wood floor. We ALWAYS recommend water-borne polyurethane to finish these floors.

The color of maple hardwood floors will also be affected by polyurethane based on oil. Maple flooring is most often installed due to its light, creamy color.  It is very rare for it to be stained.Oil-based poly will give Maple hardwood floors a warm, light yellow color. To avoid the yellowing of this hardwood, it is highly recommended that you use a water-based polyurethane.

It is not the sheen level of polyurethane that determines the color of hardwood flooring. The composition of the polyurethane is what affects color. Whether you use an oil-based polyurethane, or a water-borned polyurethane, will determine how much amber or yellow you get.Water borne has little or no tint regardless of its sheen level. (This is why water borne polyurethane is often recommended as a finish for white-washed, gray, and natural maple hardwood flooring). Oil-based polyurethane has a golden color that makes hardwood floors warmer. It also turns amber over time. The oil-based polyurethane will have the same ambering and warm color regardless of its sheen level. The yellowing of your hardwood floors will not be affected by a matte oil-based finish polyurethane.

What is the difference between satin, matte, semi-gloss, and high-gloss finishes of polyurethane?

Each finish has a different way of reflecting light. It doesn’t mean that one is more durable than another. You are less likely to notice scratches, scuffs, or dirt on hardwood floors if you have a lower sheen. This is because a higher sheen will reflect more light.

Matte Polyurethane is a polyurethane with a low sheen/luster level. While low-luster sheens for hardwood flooring have been popular in recent years, a level of matte sheen is virtually devoid of light reflection. This finish is duller than the high-gloss finish, which many customers don’t realize. Others were surprised to find out that the finish was so dull. It’s all about personal preference and aesthetics.

Satin Polyurethane finishes are the next in the “sheen range” and they’re also the most popular finish choice for hardwood floors today.

Low-luster hardwood flooring, which is already popular in Europe and North America, offers many benefits to consumers. You can take advantage of the low-luster flooring trend by becoming familiar with its benefits and basic features.

Satin finishes are in demand today and highly recommended by professionals. The “Satin’ finish is a low-luster finish with a medium sheen. It hides scratches and dirt better than gloss or high-gloss polyurethane finishes. Satin is the middle sheen level; it combines the best features of both the high and low sheen finishes.  Satin can hide scratches while still allowing you to see the graining of your hardwood flooring. Satin is a popular finish because it is easy to maintain. You won’t have to worry about annoying smudges from your pet’s paw prints or other scratches.Low-luster flooring is easier to clean and maintain than high-gloss. It is also easier to keep a natural appearance of the floor, as there is less “shine”. This is less work for homeowners and they can relax, especially if you live in an area where the weather is harsh and brings a lot more dirt and moisture into your home.

Semi-Gloss Polyurethane:

Semi Gloss Polyurethane offers the same sheen as the previous polyurethane option. This is often the most shiny finish that people prefer for their hardwood floors. It’s not because the hardwood looks dull and unattractive (it does!). The reason it’s not as popular is that the floor requires more maintenance than a “satin”, “matte”, or “matte-finish”. Semi-gloss polyurethane is slightly shinier than waterborne. Semi-gloss is a clear, glossy polyurethane that’s not recommended for homes with pets or small children. The shinier the finish, the more visible scratches, dents and imperfections (even dirt) are.

High Gloss Polyurethane / Gloss Polyurethane :

The highest gloss finish is the most lustrous of all finishes. It is not used often for hardwood floors with high traffic. This finish is most often seen on exotic hardwoods and specialty hardwoods. It highlights the beautiful graining of these species. If you are considering a “High gloss finish” for your kitchen or dining area, you may be a little hesitant if there are pets and children around. Customers who select the “High Gloss” finish usually have a beautiful hardwood floor or one that has an accent pendant, border or pendant. It is not recommended for areas with heavy foot traffic or pets. High gloss surfaces are notorious for making scratches, pet hairs, water spots and dirt, as well as dust, more visible.

Which is more durable?

You can determine the durability of your polyurethane by choosing an oil-based or waterborne finish. Oil-based polyurethane lasts longer and is more durable (especially in areas with high traffic) than waterborne.

The choice of sheen does not affect the durability or longevity of any polyurethane finish. Oil-based polyurethane with a matte finish will be just as durable as oil-based polyurethane with a glossy finish. Only the finish and ability to conceal scratches, scuffs, and dirt on hardwood floors differ. Waterborne polyurethane follows the same rule. A waterborne finish in matte will be as durable as one in gloss.

It is important to note that an oil-based polyurethane, in ANY finish choice, will last longer and be more durable than a waterborne finish.

What is the difference between oil-based and water-borne finishes?

Waterborne polyurethane with a Satin finish, for instance, looks similar to an oil-based polyurethane with a Matte finish. Waterborne polyurethanes are not as durable as oil-based polyurethanes. Oil dries faster and cures better than water. Oil is more resistant to wear and scratches. Oil-based polys do have a higher VOC content than water.

Waterborne finishes have lower VOCs by nature than other floor finishes. Waterborne finishes conform to VOC laws and some manufacturers have developed products that meet the new regulations in certain regions. Manufacturers have created products with even lower VOC levels to appeal to customers who are concerned about their health or the environment.

Can I change the sheen/finish level if I do not like it?

You can change the sheen with a simple screen-and-recoat, AS LONG AS you use a polymer with an OIL base. (For example, if you want to go from a semi-gloss oil poly to a Satin finish, then you MUST use a Satin OIL-based poly. Water and oil finishes cannot be mixed .You must wait at least 6 months to switch from oil to a water finish or vice versa.