What Type of Finishes Are Used for Maple Wood Floors?

Maple floors feature a naturally light colour that many people desire in their homes. People also use maple flooring in athletic gyms. Floor finishes protect maple wood floors from water damage and wear. Finishes also may or may not add a tint of colour and a glossy finish to the floor. Maple floor owners can choose between several finish types.


Sealers make a good first coat during the maple floor finishing process, according to the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association. Clear sealers protect the wood floor. People often apply sealers to wood before applying a tinted stain to help the stain go on more evenly, prevent a knot in the wood from bleeding sap into the finish and prevent the edges of the wood from absorbing too much finish. Sealers applied on top of penetrating stains help keep the stain from bleeding pigment into a top layer of clear protective finish.

Penetrating Oil Stains

Penetrating oil-based stains soak into the wood and tint it. They add some protection to the wood without creating a thick coat of finish over the surface of the wood. Some people use penetrating oil stains because they want the wood grain to show through for a natural look. Others use a penetrating oil stain for some tint and then cover it with a clear topcoat for more scratch resistance. However, water-based topcoats cannot be applied on top of oil-based stains. Penetrating stains also have the disadvantage of sometimes requiring several coats to adequately protect and tint the wood.

Oil-Based Surface Finishes

The Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association recommends oil-based surface finishes, with or without a tint, to protect gyms or maple floors with heavy traffic. These finishes do not penetrate the wood deeply but instead provide a durable protective coat on the surface of the wood. Apply them over oil-based penetrating finishes for extra protection.

Water-Based Surface Finishes

The Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association recommends water-based finishes for a protective surface layer that has less odour than oil-based finishes. People with sensitivities to smells often prefer apply water-based finishes because they have fewer harsh fumes. Like oil-based finishes, water-based finishes add a clear protective coat over the surface of the maple wood floor. They also add the most transparent topcoat possible, according to Utah State University. Water-based finishes, however, are more prone to cracking from very heavy wear or extreme temperature changes.

Plastic Finishes

Plastic finishes made from polyurethane or acrylic add the strongest surface protection, according to Utah State University. They usually sit on the surface of the wood, providing a less natural look than penetrating oil stains. Polyurethane finish can come in a very glossy or more satiny finish. Unfortunately, these finishes often cannot go on top of sealers or penetrating stains. Choose a poly or acrylic finish with a tint to eliminate the need for a sealer or stain.

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About the Author

Lisa Chinn developed her research skills while working at a research university library. She writes for numerous publications, specializing in gardening, home care, wellness, copywriting, style and travel. Chinn also designs marketing materials, holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology and is working toward a PhD in cognitive neuroscience.