Which water based finish would you most highly recommend for refinishing oak floors (quality, safety, low/no voc)?

Asked by Bill
San Francisco, CA

I wrote earlier about my job which started as oil based, and my thinking now is to re-strip and move to water based. I have (a little late!) learned of the problems with oil based. I want to use a finish I can trust as very safe and high quality. It doesn't have to be the cadillac of finishes, but if it costs more to get this right, so be it. Maybe there's one out there that is not a bad value, and very green? My floor refinisher says he typically uses Bona Mega; please advise if that's an excellent choice, or not. Thank you kindly, Bill 


Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS

Answered by Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS

Bainbridge Island, WA

A Kitchen That Works LLC

December 19, 2012

Dear Bill,

As a designer and general contractor, I oversee the installation of a lot of hardwood floors in my line of work.

My installer of choice uses Berger-Siedle (only sold to the trade) and our clients are very happy. They have three different options with the lowest VOC options being their penetrating hard wax oil. It is a gorgeous finish but it does take more maintenance than the more traditional one or two component water borne finishes.

  • The nice thing about the hard wax oil is you can do spot repairs by sanding the area, such as in front of the kitchen sink that gets a lot of wear, with some 000 steel wool and rewaxing.
  • However, you will see wear sooner than with urethane finishes.

The Bona Mega is a good option as are the other finishes featured in the GreenHomeGuide Q&As listed below such as AMF and Osmo.


Good luck!

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