Polyurethane is available in gloss levels ranging from matt to gloss.
It comes in two options, solvent or water based:
Solvent based polyurethane is the hardest wearing finish requiring the least maintenance. It will generally darken over time and will eventually ‘yellow.’ It has a very strong odour at the time of application.
Water based polyurethane has moderate durability. Timber will darken marginally over time. It’s low odour makes it more suitable for use in buildings with shared air con.
Oil gives more of a natural looking finish.
Timber oil is made from a mix of plant oils and waxes. It requires more maintenance than polyurethane, but this can be incorporated into the cleaning process.
One of the biggest benefits is you can repair scratches, unlike polyurethane. It has low odour.
Other Flooring Options:
Parquet flooring is a mosaic or block form made from solid timber.
Mosaic parquetry is made up of small fingers of timber made into a tile and then laid.
Block parquetry is usually made of blocks of timber that are three times longer than their width. It can be laid in many patterns, with Herringbone a popular choice.
Both methods are labour intensive and require skilled craftsmanship.
Staining floors is fraught with difficulties, so it’s best to try and find a natural timber that gives you the colour you want.
Staining is expensive, and if you ever re-sand your floor you will have to pay for it again. Deep scratches will expose the unstained timber beneath. Stained floors are also susceptible to fading, particularly in front of windows.
Staining is possible, and will give you the exact colour you want, but should only be committed to after careful consideration.