A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

What’s your Poison: Poly or Acid?

In our previous house, we had the floors refinished mainly in the hopes that it would sell quickly. I wasn’t necessarily concerned with the longest-lasting or best finish — I wanted a nice job, but it was going to be whatever the contractor used. That’s why I don’t understand how the supposed “typical” buyer is attracted to newly refinished floors, or newly remodeled anything. Obviously if it had just been redone, then the seller is doing it for one reason and one reason alone: to sell the house. 20070805021.jpg

When it came time to have the bungalow floors refinished however, I knew for sure that I didn’t want to go with polyurethane. The finish that was used in our previous house was polyurethane. You can see the sheen here——there is essentially no wood grain penetrating the finish.

Don’t get me wrong, it looked really nice. According to my research though, it won’t be the longest-lasting finish.

I was leaning toward a finish like Osmo Polyx Oil. It’s based on vegetable oils and waxes and sounded like a great product, but I really couldn’t find much information about it, especially in the States. The information that I did find was focused in the Pacific Northwest or the East Coast. They claimed that it lasted longer than polyurethane and a worn area can be refinished without having to do the entire room.

I called a local floor refinisher who was referred to me, and he came over to take a look at the floors. I talked to him about Osmo, but he had never heard of it and he’s been doing floors for 18 years. He insisted that we would not be happy with a finish that is wax-based because there is much more maintenance with it. Since we were under a time crunch to refinish the floors before we moved in, we decided to go with the acid-cure urethane, or Swedish finish, which he recommended as the longest-lasting finish. (Besides, the PO would be very happy that we’re continuing with his Swedish theme!)

Like polyurethane, acid-cure urethane is a surface finish, in that they sit on top of the wood to form a protective coating. Other than that, there’s not too much information about the differences, except that acid-cure urethane is toxic and flammable during application and should only be applied by a flooring professional.

Since we had both the poly and acid-cure finishes applied in the two houses within a month of each other, I’m very happy with our decision for the bungalow. In my opinion, the acid-cure has a warmer look to it, and I prefer the satin finish to the more glossy finish of the polyurethane (although you can get a satin finish in poly too). Underfoot, the acid-cure finish feels better to me and looks more natural, and even though it’s a surface finish, the wood grain manages to peek through.

Previous house, polyurethane finish:

Bungalow, acid-cure urethane finish:


  1. Patricia on September 2, 2007 at 1:09 am

    We are currently coating our floors in Swedish Finish by Glitza. Have you noticed any residual smell? How long before the smell was completely gone. We have young children and I am worried about the smell factor.
    Let me know.

  2. denise on September 2, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Hi Patricia–There is no smell whatsoever (it’s been over a month now), and as I recall the smell went away pretty quickly–I’d say within a few days. I think it went away much quicker than the polyurethane smell did in our old house. Good luck with it.

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