10 Best Water Based Polyurethane for Floors- Reviews & Buyer’s Guide 2022

If you wish to enhance your wooden floor’s beauty and durability, then the Best Water Based Polyurethane for Floors is what you need. The product is highly recommended because it preserves the floor from household chemicals and UV rays, threatening a long useful life.

It also cures to give a transparent and glossy finish, which is beautiful. The formula has abrasion and scratch-resistance qualities, which keep the floor from damage caused by exposure to harmful elements.

The polyurethane formula is a must-have product for any woodworker, but problems arise when you have difficulty knowing the best one to pick for your project.

If you want to get the best solution quickly, this article has come to your rescue because I have discussed the best water-based polyurethane formulas. Please read through till the end because I have also attached a comprehensive buyer’s guide to help you out.

1. Minwax Water Based Oil-Modified Polyurethane

Minwax products have an impressive reputation for meeting the expectations of woodworkers. To start us off, we have the Minwax Water Based Oil-Modified polyurethane formula. It is a water-based formula that is modified to work on your water-based and oil-based stains comfortably.

The solution is appropriate for indoor applications as it is ultra fast-drying, making it convenient for interior wood surfaces such as cabinets, floors, and doors. 

The product is straightforward to handle as; it has very little odor, is easy to clean up with soap and water, and can be recoated in only 2 hours. You will also enjoy superior durability combined with the warmth and beauty of the traditional polyurethane.

With this Water-Based Oil-Modified formula, your surface is safe from damage due to alcohol, water, scuffing, abrasion, chipping, and other commonly used household chemicals.

The Summary of Top Features

  • It is a fast-drying polyurethane formula, thus giving you ample working sessions.
  • It has little odor as it is water-based.
  • The product protects the surface from household chemicals, thus enhancing durability.
  • You can apply the formula on both oil-based and water-based stains.
  • It works well for interior wood surfaces.


  • It enhances the beauty of the surface.
  • Easy to handle.
  • You can use it over bare wood.
  • Cleaning the formula is manageable.
  • It preserves the floor.


  • The formula is purely for interior use.

2. Rust-Oleum 284470 Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane

During woodworking, you need the job done correctly as soon as possible, and a polyurethane formula made to get work done faster while providing superb protection carries the day.

This need lets us appreciate the Rust-Oleum Varathane Triple Thick formula, which allows you to complete your projects with only one coat. It is also well known for providing scratch and stain resistance to your surface.

The formula is perfect for all your interior wood surfaces, and whether you are using it for furniture, door, or trim, you can expect great results. It dries in 2 hours and covers up to 50 square feet. On top of that, the glossy finish enhances the natural beauty of your wood.

The Summary of Top Features

  • It is suitable for all interior wood surface projects.
  • With one coat, you get faster and outstanding results.
  • The formula enhances wood surface durability by providing scratch and stain resistance.
  • It preserves the wood’s natural beauty with a glossy finish.
  • You can enjoy longer working sessions as the product is odorless.


  • It is a fast-drying formula.
  • It self-levels for better results.
  • It is anti-scratch and anti-stain.
  • It gives a transparent and glossy finish.
  • The product is ideal for multiple interior applications.


  • Be careful when applying on vertical surfaces as it may run or sag.

3. Minwax Polycrylic Water-Based Protective Clear Finish


Your search for a usable product for various applications has come to an end because this crystal clear polyurethane formula is what you need. Besides maintaining the surface’s original color, it is perfect for use over all stains and bare wood. It also gives a clear finish that works very well for light woods such as ash, birch, and maple.

The product is available in satin, gloss, semi-gloss, ultra flat, and matte; and gives excellent results for a variety of indoor wood applications. It is easy to handle as it dries quickly and cleans up with soap and water. The ease of use and handling makes it very cheap to maintain and thus helps you save money.

NB: When applying the formula, use a synthetic bristle brush for better results.

The Summary of Top Features

  • It is a water-based formula, thus easy to clean up.
  • It is safe and easy to use as it has little odor and can be recoated in 2 hours.
  • The product is ideal for light woods because of its clear finish.
  • It preserves and enhances your wood’s beauty.
  • The formula is great for all interior wood surfaces.


  • It dries ultra-fast.
  • It gives a crystal clear finish.
  • The formula provides durability to the surface.
  • It is available in many shades.


  • It gives unsatisfactory results if not applied well

4. Minwax Water Based Helmsman Spar Urethane, quart.

The Minwax Water Based Helmsman Spar Urethane, quart contains UV blockers and is excellent at protecting your wood from graying and fading. When you apply it, it is a protective barrier against moisture and rain, which gives you confidence as you work outdoors.

The formula has special oils that allow the finish to contract or expand depending on the temperature changes.

You will enjoy working with this polyurethane formula as it is suitable for many jobs such as doors, trim, bathroom cabinets, kitchen countertops, and outdoor furniture. It also gives a crystal transparent finish that is perfect for light-colored woods and stains.

Additionally, maintaining the product is affordable as you only need soap and warm water to clean it up.

The Summary of Top Features

  • The formula works well for exterior wood exposed to water, sunlight, or temperature changes.
  • It gives a crystal clear finish, which is perfect for light-colored woods.
  • Your wood remains beautiful as the product keeps it from staining, graying, and fading.
  • The product has a low odor suitable for your jobs.


  • This product gives a non-graying and non-fading effect.
  • It cures into a crystal clear finish.
  • You can work on both indoor and outdoor wood projects.
  • It dries quickly.
  • It offers affordable maintenance.


  • Users complain that you have to sand and apply many coats to get a subtle finish.

5. RUST-OLEUM FBA 230031 Varathane Gallon Gloss Waterborne Diamond Floor Finish.

Hardwood and softwood floors are very different and demand that we handle them appropriately. They also require different polyurethane solutions. Softwood floors have been sorted over the years as most formulas work well. Hardwood floors, on the other hand, have not had a perfect formula that offers superb results.

This inconsistency has proven to be a problem over the years. That is why the emergence of the Rust-Oleum Varathane Gallon Gloss Waterborne Diamond Floor Finish is something to appreciate. 

One impressive feature of this water-based finish is that it works well for hardwood floors. It offers superior durability by being abrasion and scuff resistant. On top of that, it withstands stains and household chemicals, keeping the wood surface looking good.

The product dries fast for same-day recoating and provides a crystal clear finish after curing. It also has a low odor, thus convenient for indoor applications.

The Summary of Top Features

  • Household chemicals do not damage the formula, thus durable.
  • It cures to give you a beautiful, crystal clear finish.
  • It is a water-based finish appropriate for hardwood floors.
  • It is easy to handle and maintain.
  • The formula is fast drying to accommodate your woodworking needs.


  • It gives an elegant design and finishes.
  • The formula is anti-stain.
  • It is ideal for flooring.
  • It has a low odor.
  • The product only needs soap and water to clean up.


  • It does not give good results when used with tiles.

6. RUST-OLEUM 200131 Gallon Semi-Gloss Clear Water-Based Wood Finish

As much as you need a formula that ensures your wood’s durability, your interior projects like cabinets, trim, doors, and furniture need this clear poly formula. The product is designed to let your wood’s natural beauty shine through, and you don’t have to worry about painting your floor.

The formula provides maximum scratch and stain resistance, thus assuring you of longevity. You save money and time as you can clean it up with soap and water.

Additionally, the low odor of the formula allows you longer working sessions.

The Summary of Top Features

  • Your surface remains beautiful as it becomes anti-stain and anti-scratch.
  • You can comfortably work on interior projects and expect satisfactory results.
  • The formula’s low odor makes it comfortable to use.
  • It gives a semi-gloss clear finish.
  • It is also convenient to maintain because, with water and soap, you are good to go.


  • You will get a beautiful design and finish.
  • The formula offers durability.
  • It is ideal for interior projects.
  • It has low maintenance costs.
  • The product is easy to handle.


  • When used on bricks, the formula gives a milky look when curing.

7. ZAR 32512 Aqua Water Based Polyurethane

The feature that makes this water-based polyurethane stand out is that it is safe for you and the environment. It meets all the relevant environmental standards for low emission of solvent vapors and has low-odor so that you are safe even in long working sessions.

You will enjoy a non-yellowing effect by the formula because it protects your cabinets, wall paneling, and furniture. The formula is not affected by household chemicals and abrasions for maximum durability and beauty.

The product dries crystal clear and self-levels to give a smooth, crystal clear finish. It will work well for light-colored or white stains and horizontal or vertical surfaces.

The Summary of Top Features

  • It is eco-friendly and safe to use.
  • The formula is fast-drying, allowing you to work with speed.
  • It assures durability as it is not affected by household chemicals.
  • It self-levels, making it easy to handle.
  • This product has a low odor.


  • It is a durable floor finish.
  • You will love it for light-colored stains.
  • It is excellent for interior, vertical, and horizontal surfaces.
  • Your surface will not yellow.
  • It gives impressive durability and beauty.


  • Some users complain that they get a dull and rough finish.

8. RUST-OLEUM 250231 Gallon Outdoor Clear Satin Finish

After looking at the polyurethane formulas around, I find this product having impressive features that will meet your expectations. First, it is packed with UV absorbers and offers superior protection against harm causing elements, and as a result, you will appreciate a clear and non-yellowing finish.

The formula offers resistance to scratches, which assures you of its durability. It is suitable for busy woodworkers who have so many projects to work on because of the extra fast drying time. You will also enjoy an allowance of recoating three times a day.

Additionally, Maintaining the product is very easy. Water and soap are enough to do a thorough clean up.

The Summary of Top Features

  • The resistance to scratches keeps the wood surface smooth.
  • You can recoat up to three times a day.
  • It does not yellow upon application.
  • It cures to give a clear and elegant finish.
  • The formula provides unbeatable protection to environmental elements that are a threat to your surface.


  • This formula is scratch resistant.
  • It is packed with UV absorbers.
  • It dries pretty fast.
  • Your surface will have a crystal clear satin finish.


  • If used for picnic tables, you will need to reapply it regularly because of wear and tear.

9. Minwax 131030000 Ultimate Floor Finish, 1 gallon

Here is another Minwax finish that has what it takes to be on your shopping list. The formula is not only suitable for hardwood floors but also light-colored woods and stains. It utilizes the self-crosslinking technology that gives a hard floor finish and does not amber as time goes by.

Unlike the traditional polyurethane products, the Minwax 131030000 Ultimate Floor Finish, 1 gallon has a lower odor thus is safe for more prolonged use. It dries in only 2 hours, and no sanding is required between coats, which is a great relief.

When you shop for this formula, ensure that you are keen to get the features you desire because Minwax offers so many water-based polyurethane products.

The Summary of Top Features

  • The product is right for light-colored wood and stains as it does not amber.
  • It is easy to handle.
  • No sanding is needed between coats; thus, you work faster.
  • There is an allowance of finishing your projects just one day as you can recoat in 2 hours.
  • The cross-linking technology gives a tough finish.


  • It does not amber with time.
  • It has very little odor.
  • The formula allows recoats in only 2 hours.
  • It works well on hardwoods.
  • It has a tough finish.


  • You have to apply many coats to get a good finish.

10. Varathane 230131 Crystal Clear Floor Finish, Semi-Gloss 1 Gallon

You can tell that a transparent and semi-gloss floor finish is among the impressive features to enjoy from the product’s name. After curing, the floor will be crystal clear and elegantly glossy. 

This polyurethane solution is also notable because it has a non-yellowing effect and maximum scuff and scratch resistance. Besides that, it resists stains and household chemicals to enhance the durability of your surface.

Additionally, the formula has a low odor and cleans up with soap and water, making it very easy to handle. The manufacturer makes it very convenient because it dries fast to accommodate same-day recoating, which allows you to enjoy working on multiple projects and meet your deadlines. 

The Summary of Top Features

  • It enhances the durability of the surface by making it scuff and scratch-resistant.
  • The formula is water-based and has low odor.
  • It cures to give a clear finish.
  • It is easy to handle and maintain.
  • It is not affected by household chemicals.


  • The formula is abrasion-resistant.
  • It has a low odor.
  • It offers easy cleanup.
  • It is suitable for hardwood floors.
  • After curing, it is elegant and beautiful.


  • On some wood surfaces, you need to lightly buff or sand between coats.

Best Water Based Polyurethane for Floors Buyer’s Buyer’s Guide

If you have previously worked with complicated formulas and did not give the desired results, you can attest that it is critical to buy the most suitable and appropriate product. The right polyurethane solution will provide you with an easy time when applying and an elegant finish when you are done.

Having read this article so far, you may be wondering what is the value-added when you use this formula or how you can choose the best one. That should not worry you because, in this section, I have given significant reasons for buying this formula and the considerations to make as you go shopping.

Reasons to Have Best Water Based Polyurethane for floors in your workshop

  • Durability. A wooden floor has a short useful life majorly because of environmental elements and household chemicals. Therefore, the water-based polyurethane formula is a go-to solution as it resists yellowing, abrasion, staining, and the effect of chemicals used in households.
  • Variety of applications. The formula accommodates multiple applications so that whether you are working indoors or outdoors, your needs are met. Sometimes you are working on oil-based and water-based floors, and you need a solution that blends well with your wooden floor. 
  • Whatever your expectations and needs may be, we have a variety in the market, and you just need to select the product that suits your project. 
  • Safety. When working on any given project, safe products are a priority, and the more reason you need this formula. It has a low odor and is environmentally friendly. With the product, you don’t have to worry about harming yourself or the environment.
  • Maintenance. If you want to minimize maintenance costs, then this is your product. It is easy to clean up with soap and water. Besides that, it is scratch and abrasion-resistant, ensuring that you stay for long without thinking of recoating.
  • Drying time. With project deadlines to meet, a formula that dries quickly comes in handy. This polyurethane formula has a record drying time of two hours, which gives you the freedom to use as many coats as you want in one day.
  • Enhancing the wood’s beauty. Most woodworkers have previously resorted to painting their wooden floors because the formulas were not giving a beautiful finish. This formula is unique and ensures that your wood looks gorgeous throughout.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Best Water Based Polyurethane for floors

  • Environmental effect

It is your responsibility to preserve and take care of the environment. All you need to achieve this as a woodworker is to get eco-friendly products, and before you make a purchase, please check the contents of the polyurethane formula. The most suitable solution will be the one that has little or fewer VOCs.

  • UV rays resistance

UV rays are an enemy to a wooden floor’s durability because when continuously exposed to UV rays, it will wear out very fast, and its beauty is compromised. Most polyurethane formulas have considered and added a component in the solution that makes it UV resistant. 

When shopping, do not be in a hurry; check out the solution’s features and choose the one that resists UV rays.

  • The sheen

Polyurethane products come in various forms ranging from gloss, semi-gloss, satin to clear. For excellent results, you need to pay close attention to these forms to choose the most suitable one for your floor.

You will choose well if you study your floor and know the specific sheen that will give a perfect finish.

  • Curing duration

The time taken by the formula to dry is critical. If you are working on a short timeline, then a poly solution that is fast drying should be your pick.

Nowadays, we have so many options for polyurethane products, and getting one to suit your working timelines is easy.

  • Ease of handling

An easy to handle formula is enjoyable to work with as you don’t have any issues getting your desired finish. Most polyurethane formulas are fast-drying, such that you can recoat in 2 hours. When it comes to cleaning them, water and soap do a fantastic job.

  • Odor

The odor of the product affects your working time. A strong smell is disturbing and might force you to have short working sessions. Little odor, on the other hand, allows you to work for longer without feeling nauseated.

Depending on how long you are supposed to work on a project, choose the formula that will allow you to work comfortably.

  • The longevity of the formula

Maintaining a wooden floor can be quite a task because it naturally wears out very fast. Therefore, a polyurethane formula that preserves your wood will save you time and money.

  • Finish and appearance

You should choose the formula that will give you the finish that you want. By now, I am sure you have seen that different polyurethane formulas will provide various finishes. So, as you shop, check out the product’s results and get the most suitable.

  • Application

Whether you are using the polyurethane formula for outdoor or indoor applications matters, the different products we have are convenient for either use or both depending on their features.

Most of the products used for outdoor use are usually UV rays resistant so that the wood surface is not affected by the sun. Solutions appropriate for indoor use, on the other hand, will be quick drying.

  • Your budget

Some formulas are more expensive than others depending on the additional features they have. When you look at your project’s requirements, get the most suitable solution in terms of quality, even if it means adding some more money to what you had budgeted.

However, having a budget is helpful because it gives you a glimpse of how much you can comfortably spend on the product.

The most appropriate way to handle this is by looking at the poly formula options you have and getting the best to suit your budget and project needs.


Applying a water-based polyurethane formula on your floor is very advantageous as the surface will be resistant to scratching, staining, abrasions, and the effect of household chemicals.

The formula also enhances the beauty of the floor as it gives this transparent and glossy finish. The surface will not yellow or fade due to UV rays as it is made to resist adverse environmental elements.

Since I have reviewed some of the best polyurethane products to get on the shelves, you will have an easy time determining what works for you. All the formulas mentioned will give the desired results, but my overall best is the Minwax Water Based Oil-Modified Polyurethane.

It is uniquely designed to accommodate both water-based and oil-based stains. You will also find that it has superior durability on top of the warmth and beauty that came with the traditional polyurethane.

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Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.