A good quality protective coating can help the surface of a wooden floor last many years. This can both protect the surface from scratching, and provides a fair degree of water resistance.
Polyurethanes were developed in Germany in the late 1930s, but did not become commercial available till the late 1950s. As well as being the basis for many hard plastic products and foam polyurethane proved a very resilient coatings for wooden surfaces.
Polyurethane coatings provide a hard glossy surface for wooden floors. There are two main variations for polyurethane, water-based and solvent-based.
This is an absolutely clear finish. It is hard to see the difference between the coated and uncoated timber surface, but the texture changes and the coating provided protection to the wood.
Water based polyurethane is very fast drying, needing only 2 hours for a re-coat. This means a floor can be given4 coatings in a day, which is the recommended number for this type of floor finish.
Water based polyurethane is low odour and moderately priced. Brushed and equipment can be cleaned with water as long as the finish hasn’t dried.
This has a slightly tinted, slightly amber look. Many find this tint looks very appealing on timber floors. Over the space of several years the coating will darken slightly, especially in strong light. This will not affect the strength of the finish.
Solvent based polyurethane is slower drying than water based equivalents. It takes about 5 hours before the floor can be recoated. But floors generally only need 2 or 3 coats.
Equipment used with Solvent based polyurethane must be cleaned with turps / spirits.
Wooden floors last for decades, but their surfaces are prone to scratching and superficial damage. Protective finishes on the floor surface can significantly reduce the amount of damage sustained and allow preserve the appearance for many years.
If your timber floors do show signs of surface damage they can be bought to virtually new appearance with floor sanding. Other wooden damage can also be repaired.