ST. LOUIS -- You've spent weeks working with a wood flooring professional to select the right wood for your home, but did you know that selecting the finish for your floor is as important as the flooring you choose? Different wood flooring finishes will have a big impact on how you care for your floor, as well as how your floor will look in the years to come. And technological advances in recent years mean that wood flooring finishes are low in VOCs, so they are more environmentally friendly than ever before.

Surface finishes are very popular today because they are durable, water-resistant and require minimal maintenance. Surface finishes are blends of synthetic resins. These finishes most often are referred to as urethanes or polyurethanes, and remain on the surface of the wood to form a protective coating. They generally are available in high-gloss, semi-gloss, satin and matte finishes.

Wax finishes soak into the pores of the wood and harden to form a protective penetrating seal. The wax gives a low-gloss satin sheen. It generally is maintained with additional thin applications of wax. Only solvent-based waxes, buffing pastes or cleaning liquids made specifically for wax-finished wood floors should be used.

Acrylic impregnated finishes are injected into the wood to create a super-hard, extremely durable floor. Acrylic impregnated finishes rarely are used in residential applications. They most often are used in very high traffic areas in commercial settings such as malls and restaurants.

Each of these types of finishes will help protect your flooring from normal wear and tear, and you can be assured that all are environmentally safe.

The National Wood Flooring Association is a non-profit trade organization of more than 3,200 wood flooring professionals working worldwide to educate consumers, architects, designers, and builders in the uses and benefits of wood flooring.

SOURCE: National Wood Flooring Assn.

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