blog-banner

Are you looking for a contractor?

Submit our quick form and get quotes now!

Table of Contents

Flooring

4 min read

Choosing a varnish for your wood floor

Flooring

4 min read

Choosing a varnish for your wood floor

FlooringChoosing a varnish for your wood floor

Renovating a wood floor can completely change the look of a room and add some much-needed charm. While sanding is often the part of the project where attention is focused, choosing a varnish is actually more important to achieve your desired finish. To understand this project a bit more clearly, here are the different options available on the market.

How to choose a wood floor varnish

wood floor varnish_renoquotes.com

source: unsplash

What is a volatile organic compound?

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are substances that are derived from hydrocarbons and are released into the environment. Affecting both the air quality as well as the health of humans, VOCs such as acetone, ethanol, butane and so on, have serious effects and can lead to asthma problems and in the worst-case scenario, cancer. These serious consequences have motivated the Canadian Government to control the amount of VOCs available in varnishes on the market.

Effective as of September 9th, 2010, the new legislation imposes a limit of 350 g VOC per litre for all varnishes manufactured in or imported into Canada. Further, their sale has been prohibited since September 9th, 2012. This information is important to bear in mind when shopping for varnishes. 

plancher bois chambre à coucher

The different types of wood floor varnishes

1) Water-based varnish

There are many advantages to choosing a water-based varnish. We will start by emphasizing that water-based varnishes are known for containing a very low rate of toxic products. Also, these varnishes are known for their ability to avoid yellowing over time, while also drying quickly during application. In addition, they are easy to maintain. When first developed, it was widely deplored that water-based varnishes had issues with resistance. However, newer water-based varnishes do not face these challenges. Their current degree of resistance allows them to be on par with urethane varnishes.

However, it is important to keep in mind that water-based varnishes react to calcium. Therefore, if you’re using it in a place where the floor might accumulate a certain amount of calcium, then you should consider applying an anti-calcium sealant. In another vein, the application of a water-based varnish involves waiting at least 1 month before the floor can be washed. This is an important point if you plan on applying the varnish in an area which frequently gets dirty.

2) Oil-based varnish

wood floors and chairs_renoquotes.com

source: unsplash

While oil-based varnishes once referred to polyurethane and urethane-based coatings, it is important to note that these have been banned in Canada because of how highly toxic they are. Currently, oil-based varnishes only concern polyurethane-based varnishes. If you find them being sold somewhere, we would suggest that you avoid them at all costs due to their high toxicity. 

Although an oil-based varnish will keep its lustre for many years, it often yellows. Also, it takes a considerable amount of time to dry, and this could be anywhere between 16 and 24 hours. Moreover, it is impossible to praise oil-based varnish's resistance. In fact, the main advantages to choosing this type of varnish are its' affordable price as well as the ease of application, which can be completed with a roller.

3) Alcohol-based varnish

Also containing a certain amount of toxic substances, alcohol-based varnishes stand out from the others mentioned because of their high resistance. Self-taught renovators appreciate the diversity of the finishes as well as its ability to preserve the natural look of wood. Additionally, alcohol-based varnish dries very quickly, usually needing approximately 1 to 2 hours.

From an environmental point of view, alcohol-based varnish is not an optimal choice. However, it is possible to counter the effect of its toxicity by opening the windows during the application process.

The price to varnish a wooden floor

Let us first note that the price for varnishing a floor can vary depending on the type of product used, the addition (or not) of dye and the work that takes place before the varnish is applied. Cost variations may also occur if the floor is already varnished and the finish needs to be removed. The prices cited in the following table are examples and only serve to give a general idea of what you can expect:

Type of varnish and/or work

Average prices (products and labour)

Low-end varnish and sanding

$1.50 to $1.75/ square foot

Standard varnish and sanding

$2 to $2.50/square foot

High-end varnish (high traffic areas)

$3 to $3.50/square foot

Adding dye

approximately $1/square foot

Floor repairs

$10 to $40/floor board

Get 3 renovation quotes for your flooring renovation project

RenoQuotes.com will put you in contact with 3 reliable contractors for your floor covering renovation project. Fill in the form on our homepage (it only takes a few minutes), and you will receive quotes from trusted professionals.

Dial 1-844 828-1588 to speak with one of our customer service representatives

Get 3 free quotes for your project!

Submit a project and get 3 free quotes!


Last modified 2023-11-07

List of sources


Get 3 free quotes for your project!

Submit a project and get 3 free quotes!

Looking for something else?


Table of contents


Get 3 free quotes for your project!

Submit a project and get 3 free quotes!

Are you a contractor?

Join our network and receive real leads!

Download the price guide for renovations

We’ll be emailing you the latest market price guide for renovations.



Related articles

The latest industry news, interviews, technologies, and resources.

5 min read

RenoQuotes.com • 07 Nov 2023

This is how much your basement remodeling should cost | Renovation Quotes

Basements today have become very valuable spaces within the home. Whether it’s a recreational space to relax or has extra bedrooms or storage space, making the best use out of your basement is ideal. An added plus to remodelling your basement is that it’s a great return on your investment, with the average return being anywhere from 50 to 75 percent.  

6 min read

Christime Simard • 07 Nov 2023

Ceramic grout: products and maintenance

Have you decided to change your floor covering and your choice fell on ceramic? Regardless of the specific tile pattern that caught your attention, you will need to purchase grout.

9 min read

Karine Dutemple • 07 Nov 2023

Which Roofing Material Will Best Suit Your Needs?

It should come as no surprise that the roof of your home is one of the most integral and important parts. A well-maintained, beautiful roof is essential for keeping interior temperatures regulated.

5 min read

RenoQuotes.com • 03 Jun 2024

Working in renovation: Carpenter-Joiner

The trade of carpenter-joiner is nothing less than important when it comes to building sites, as the erection of any or all wooden structures is inseparable from the many projects that relate to the construction of buildings or houses. If this career path piques your interest, you’re probably interested in knowing more about it. Here’s all the information that you’ll need about the job of carpenter-joiner.

4 min read

Amanda Harvey • 19 Apr 2024

How to Fix Peeling Bathroom Wall Paint?

Showering, bathing, hair drying and moist towels hanging from every fixture; all the activities that take place in the bathroom breed humidity.


Looking for a contractor?

Submit a project and get 3 free quotes now!