Conversion Varnish (Swedish finish): this type of finish is often referred to as “Glitsa” because it is manufactured by the company Glitsa American, Inc.  Conversion Varnish is a two-component finish with alcohol as the solvent and cures because of acid catalyzation.  It was developed in Sweden in the early 1950’s and introduced to the U.S. market later that decade.  Berlin Flooring has been using this finish since the 1960’s; we were the first company to bring this finish into Colorado.  Swedish finishes are extremely durable and quick-drying, allowing multiple coats to be applied in one day.  It is the best finish on the market for enhancing the grain clarity, depth, and color of your hardwood floors.  Swedish finishes will amber with age.  One disadvantage to this finish is the strong odor from the alcohol solvents.  Once the finish is dry the job site must be properly ventilated to allow airflow exchange with the outside.  Although the alcohol solvents are irritating, they are not harmful to you once the finish has dried.  Berlin Flooring applies 1-2 coats of Glitsa Sealer and 1 coat of Glitsa Goldseal in a satin sheen, although matte and semi-gloss sheens are also available.  We prefer Glitsa Sealer instead of Glitsa’s “Bacca” Sealer because it has a higher solid content and is therefore more durable.  The 2-coat system of Glitsa Sealer and Glitsa Goldseal is extremely durable, although some customers prefer the 3-coat system for additional protection.  When staining wood, the stain acts as a seal coat so 2 coats of Glitsa Swedish finish are applied over the stain.

Waterborne: a water-based urethane with a blend of synthetic resins, plasticizers and other film forming ingredients that produce a durable surface layer over your hardwood floors.  Waterborne finishes first hit the U.S. market in the early 1980’s.  They are quick-drying, allowing multiple coats to be applied in one day.  Waterborne finishes are clear and non-yellowing, although they do not bring out the depth and clarity of some hardwoods as well as a Swedish finish.  Waterborne finishes look best over light-colored woods such as maple and ash.  They are available in one-component (residential grade) and two-component (commercial grade) versions.  The one-component versions are not durable so Berlin Flooring never uses them.  The two-component versions have a catalyst that is added for extra durability.  Berlin Flooring uses Glitsa TruSeal as the sealer followed by 2 coats of GlitsaMax X2, a two-component Waterborne finish.  GlitsaMax X2 is available in ultra-matte, satin and semi-gloss sheens.  A new Waterborne finish, Loba 2K Invisible Protect, was introduced in 2017 that provides a unique, “unfinished” look to the wood.  This design element is becoming very popular due to the light, clean, modern appearance it provides and we expect this trend to continue.

Oil-modified Polyurethane: often referred to simply as “Poly”, it is polyurethane with an oil base, usually linseed oil, in a solvent as the carrier.  The solvent is usually mineral spirits, although some new products have water instead.  Oil-modified Polyurethane has been used on hardwood floors since the 1950’s and is still the most common wood floor finish used in the U.S. market.  Poly will bring out the color of the wood, but it’s high build application does not bring out the depth and clarity in the grain of the wood like a Swedish finish.  Poly will amber over time and the high build of this finish can give your hardwood floors a “plastic” appearance.  Poly is slow-drying with at least an 8-hour dry time, allowing only one coat per day.  Poly has a strong odor similar to a Swedish finish.  Poly is available in matte, satin, and semi-gloss sheens.

Natural Oil Finish: several types of finishes fall into this category, and they all use natural oil as a base.  They include penetrating oils, which absorb into the wood and leave no surface film; hardwax oils, which contain wax to create some build on the floor; and hybrids such as Tung oil which also contain urethanes to form a traditional film layer.  Tung oils have been used for over 100 years.  Hardwax oils have been popular in Europe for many years and were introduced to the U.S. market in the last 10 years.  Hardwax oils are usually applied with a steel trowel and buffed into the wood.  They provide a natural, organic-looking floor without film build.  Some products offer a wide range of color options and the ability to create multi-layered colors known as the ceruse effect.  They are easy to do spot-repairs, and high traffic areas can be refreshed by adding more oil.  Hardwax oils require more maintenance; periodic re-oiling is necessary.  They have less chemical resistance than other types of finishes and can be more prone to water spotting.  In addition, traditional floor cleaners can damage these finishes.  A wood floor should be maintained only with the specific product recommended by the manufacturer.