Wooden floors take a lot of abuse as they are high-traffic areas. Pine being a softwood is more vulnerable to tear, wear, warps, and splits than hardwoods. To protect your pine wooden floor you need a good protective finish like poly.
But with so many brands available in the market it can be hard to analyze each and establish the best polyurethane for pine floors.
We did the legwork for you so you can easily find a good polyurethane that gives good protection for your pine floor.
But before we get to our favorite poly, here are some considerations when shopping for poly
Best Polyurethane for pine floor – Buying guide
Pinewood can be used to floor various surfaces such as indoors in a domestic household, in outdoor areas, or in office space. When deciding the type of polyurethane suitable for which type of floor, there are several factors to consider.
First, it is important to decide whether you need an oil-based or water-based polyurethane.
Oil-based polyurethane is the go-to poly for a sturdy protective effect. With only a few coats you can achieve a hard protective layer on your pine wood. The superior protective nature is why oil-based poly is regularly mentioned in talks of the best polyurethane for pine floors. Comes with a variety of sheens. However, it is common with oil-based poly for yellowing to happen. Though this is not a big issue if you were planning to stain your pine before applying a top coat of poly.
Due to its higher protective qualities, an oil-based poly is your best choice for any high-traffic areas such as an office space where people frequently walk over, or a living area with a higher frequency of activity.
This type of poly has several advantages:
- The best protection for wood
- Fewer coats required
Some of the disadvantages of oil-based polyurethane include
- Long drying times
- Not easy to clean, may require mineral spirits
- Pronounce odor which makes it uncomfortable to work with
- Tends to have a plasticky look
- Yellowing light lumber like pine
On the other hand, water-based polyurethane requires a considerably more number of applications or coatings to achieve the same level of protection as oil-based ones. Application of these types of polyurethanes is easy as they have a faster drying time and have little to no odor. Moreover, once adequately applied to your pine floor, clean-up is easier as only water and soap are required in most instances.
These types are suitable for use in instances when a thinner layer of coating is required. Moreover, their use is preferred because they are easier to handle due to their odorless quality.
Advantages of water-based polyurethane include
- Clear sheen
- No smell
- Easy to clean
- Multiple purposes for thin and thick coats
Disadvantages of water-based polyurethane include
- Requires considerably more coats for a thicker finish
- Prone to scratches hence unsuitable for high traffic and high activity areas
- Not good for dark lumber as it has a greyish suspension when cured
Water-based vs Oil-based
Polyurethane for pinewood has other categorizations that meet your specific needs. For instance, there are categorizations based on sheen: The most common glosses are satin and matte. These can be found as both oil-based and water-based.
Drying time of poly
Once the sheen or appearance of the pine flow is decided other considerations are the drying time of the poly. Different oil-based polys and different water-based polys have been tweaked in various ways to achieve varying drying times.
Ease of application
Ease of use and handling is another essential point to consider before deciding on the best polyurethane for pine floors. Oil-based polys produce a sharp odor which makes them uncomfortable to handle. Moreover, their application is more complicated compared to most water-based polys.
Based on these considerations above, our guide for best polys is as follows:
Best Polyurethane for pine floor – our top picks
- Best Poly overall: Varathane Ultimate Oil-based Polyurethane. Despite being oil-based and quite pricey its protective qualities are unmatched if you can get over the application process successfully. This is our overall best polyurethane for pine floors.
- Second Best Poly overall: Rust-Oleum 298273. This product is hands down the best when it comes to high traffic and high activity areas. Moreover, it is suitable for outdoor pine flooring.
- Third Best Poly: Minwax water-based Oil-modified Polyurethane. This product combines both the benefits of oil-based poly and water-based poly.
- Fourth Best Poly: Minwax Wipe-On Poly. This is one of the easiest to apply the poly. As such it is suitable for repairs and maintenance as only a cloth is required.
- Fifth Best Poly: Bona Mega Waterborne Wood Floor Finish. This water-based poly brings you all the benefits of a water-based poly at a lower cost compared to the other Bona poly named Bona Traffic.
Best Polyurethane for pine floor – More detailed review
Varathane Ultimate Oil-based Polyurethane – best oil-based polyurethane for pine floors
Varathane Ultimate Oil-based Polyurethane is an oil-based poly that can be used on pine wood flooring. This specific poly stands out from the crowd because of the superior qualities that make it a top choice poly for softwoods such as pine
The first advantage to using varathane poly is that it has the fastest drying time compared to other oil-based products in the market. Another advantage is that it provides superior protection to your pine floor compared to other products on the market. Aesthetically this product gives a better-looking sheen of a warm golden shine.
Another benefit over other polyurethane products is that this particular one is self-leveling meaning it does not require brush strokes when applied to the pine floor. Moreover, for the desired finish you can apply a minimum of two coats of Varathane poly on your pine floor.
Varathane poly exists in the water-based variety as well. The water-based variety of this product dries faster than the oil-based one. Additionally, it has a low odor which makes it comfortable to work with. Water-based varathane poly is easy to clean as only soap and water is required.
This poly is unique for not only the sheen it gives your pine floor but also for its considerably fast drying time. The time you would take to apply the second coat is only two hours.
This poly is remarkably good for people that don’t want to stain their pine. Oil-based poly when used on light woods tends to yellow over time. But with a good water-based poly like Minwax, you do not have to worry about that.
Minwax highlights the natural color of your pine floor leaving the original appearance more enhanced and highlighted. This is our Minwax comes second as our best polyurethane for pine floors.
Like Varathane, this particular poly is easy to clean up with soap and water. The resulting protective qualities of this poly last for a long time after application with deterioration of the pine floor or compromising the appearance of the wood.
Being water-based means that this poly has a low odor making it easy and comfortable to work with. Minwax is also a reputable brand widely recognized by both amateur and professional woodworkers.
If price is a consideration, then Bona Mega is the best water-based polyurethane for your pine floor.
Being a water-based polyurethane, Bona Mega has a relatively short drying time (2-3) hours. Also, it provides a unique amber sheen for your pine floor. This polyurethane is odorless making it suitable to work with.
Bona Mega is a certified product for environmentally friendly use. Moreover, the VOC levels meet the set specifications for safe use. Therefore this product is safe to work with. However, it is always recommended to use safety ware when working with polyurethane.
This poly is best for several good reasons. First, it can be easily applied using a piece of cloth without worrying about the drips or brush marks that are likely to occur when applying regular poly.
Wipe-On Poly is thinned with mineral spirits therefore dries much faster and allows easy spread and application using a rag.
The downside to this poly is its composition. While more thinner is added to fasten the drying it compromises the scratch and damage resistance abilities.
This poly is still ideal for small touch-ups on spots that have received damage.
For individuals after the practical benefits of poly such as protection from scratch, wear, warps moisture exchange, and splits. This poly is the best choice for high-traffic areas such as pine floors where kids and pets are constantly walking on and playing on.
Has good value for money. Additionally, being of a clear tint, it highlights the natural color of the pine floor. Has no yellowing and requires fewer layers of coating. Rust-Oleum closes the list of the best polyurethane for pine floors at number 5.
Best Polyurethane for pine floor – A summary
In determining the best polyurethane for your pine floor, it is essential to consider several factors. Pine floors can be installed in different areas with different levels of activity that contribute to scratch, wear, warps and splits.
For instance, the pine floor for that cabin you rarely visit is less prone to damaging effects of high traffic. For such a floor, a water-based poly would be the best choice especially since water-based poly will not turn the natural color with aging.
On the other hand, your pine floor at home is at a higher risk of damage due to kids and pets running, playing, and trying to scratch the pine. Such a floor requires a sturdier topcoat which is only provided by an oil-based poly. The choice of which type of poly to use depends on such considerations and more as discussed above.
check our guide on cleaning and storing brushes used in polyurethane.