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Wood Floor Textures and Finishes

Posted: 01 JUL 2002


When we refer to a wood floor's texture, we're usually referring to the amount of grain or "texture" a particular wood floor has. Some wood floors such as oak and pine, have a lot of grain, so have a rougher feel or texture then other wood floors such as maple, which tends to have less grain and a smoother finish.

Different types of finish coatings that are applied to the wood floor will also tend to change the texture. For example, a heavy polyurethane finish coating will have a smoother texture than a wax finish might.

The texture of a wood floor should be taken into consideration when planning your decorating scheme. As we discussed when we talked about species, the type of wood floor you choose will generally determine the finished look you will get. A rougher or grainier texture will produce a more rustic casual look where a smoother texture will give you a more formal look.


We will talk briefly about wood floor finishes. In most cases, if you are purchasing a wood floor that has to be sanded, stained, and finished, you are going to have it done by a professional. If that is the case, the installation professional can help guide you in the right direction as far as what type of finish will be correct for your application. If you are buying a pre-finished wood floor, in most cases the price will dictate the quality.

In addition, we can help explain the different pre-finished floors to you so you can make your decision. The most common finish coat used today is a "urethane" coating. Urethane coatings are available in a variety of looks including a high gloss, semi-gloss, satin and a matte finish. They are all highly durable and resistant to spills.

Urethane coatings are available in different forms. The four most common forms are:

  • The water based urethane, which dries as moisture evaporates. It is usually more expensive, non-yellowing, has less odor than some of the others, and dries very quickly
  • A solvent based moisture cure urethane, available in both non-yellowing and amber types, with a very harsh odor.
  • The acid cure urethane. This is fast drying, clear and non-yellowing, and has an extremely strong odor.
  • The oil modified urethane. This is the most common. It is fairly simple to apply, not generally expensive, will dry in an acceptable amount of time, usually eight to ten hours, and will amber with age.

There are also penetrating stain and wax, and standard wax finishes. These finishes are not available in a gloss finish, require more ongoing maintenance, and generally require additional coats over time as a protective measure.

Wax finishes are usually less expensive and easier to apply. As we mentioned previously and we will stress again, unless you have a good amount of experience with these types of materials, we highly recommend that you have a professional installer apply whatever you choose. The materials can be dangerous and if they are not applied properly, you can end up with a very disappointing floor.

Are you at all confused yet? Well don't worry. We are always here to help. Although there is a wealth of information about these products, there is always an expert at the other end of the of the telephone, willing to help you make sense of it all.