If you decide to stain your floor rather than leave it natural, you’ll need to pick a tone; there are various shades to consider including custom blends. Next, it’s time to select a finish. There are two main types: oil-and water-based, both of which are available in satin, semigloss, and gloss sheens. Oil-based versions will make the wood grow richer and darker in color with age. Each coat takes five to 12 hours to dry. Most water-based coatings dry clear—so the wood retains its original color—and often in less than an hour; they are applied in thinner layers than oil finishes, so they will require more coats. Since they are more scratch-resistant than their oil-based counterparts, they are ideal for pet owners. Water-based coatings also tend to be lower in volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—toxins that can adversely affect your health. As with oilbased finishes, they off-gas (emit VOCs), but since this happens only during the drying and curing phase, they do so for a shorter period of time.
There are different options in the finish (i.e. shininess). You can choose from Matte, Satin, Semi-Gloss, and Gloss. “Matte” finishes offer a very small amount of shine and appeal to homeowners that seek a natural, clean feel to their home. Matte finishes will hide scratches, dirt and other imperfections much better than glossy floors. Matte finishes are more child- and pet-friendly than high-gloss finishes because they don’t show as much dust, dirt, or footprints. On the other hand, glossy finishes can give that “wow” factor and look impressive! “Satin” is a popular choice for homeowners. It has a slight matte appearance but still offers a bit of shine. It has a silky look, is easy to maintain, and has a wonderful ability to “hide” small surface scratches and scuffs. “Semi-Gloss” is less shiny than Gloss but still maintains a fair amount of shine. Many homeowners choose semi-gloss for its mix of shine and maintainability. “Gloss” will offer the shiniest sheen and gives a glossy, almost “wet” looking appearance. Homeowners like the high-end appearance of Gloss, however, Gloss is harder to maintain because it shows dust, scratches and scuffs more easily.
Matte has around 25% luster. A Matte finish has little sheen and gives a clean look. Hides scratches and other imperfections better than Gloss floors.
Satin has around 40% luster. Satin sheen level is preferred on all shades of hardwood from dark to light and everything in between.
Semi-gloss has around 55% luster. For those that prefer shinier finishes, this is a good option. It’s shinier but not quite as shiny as a Gloss finish.
Gloss has around 70% luster. Highest gloss of the 4 types of flooring. Reflects light very well. Harder to maintain as it shows dust, scratches and scuffs more.