water base gym finish

Why You Want To Use Water Base Gym Finish

Water base gym finish has many advantages that make it an attractive option when refinishing your basketball hardwood courts, but understanding these benefits and making sure they are the right choice for your gym floor maintenance program is a must.

Do water base gym finishes have the same gloss or shine as oil modified finishes?

The quick answer is no. Immediately after application, most water base gym finish will have slightly less gloss. With that being said, following the proper maintenance program, the longevity of this level of gloss will far out last the oil modified.

Is water base gym finish as durable as oil modified?

Again the short answer is no, but with one very important note to be made. The main difference in performance of water based finishes is that it can be maintained and repaired using a high speed burnisher. Oil based cannot. This means that even though water based finishes will dull from use easier, the floor can be polished back to a high shine.

Polishing or burnishing of any kind will not affect the appearance of oil modified finishes. In most schools and recreation facilities, basketball and other gymnasium centered sports are in the winter months after the floor has had several months of daily use.

When it is time for the court to be in the spotlight, it has already begun to show signs of dulling. With water based finishes, maintenance can keep the floor looking its best all year long.

Can water base gym finish damage the floor?

All finishes can cause problems with the floor if it is not done correctly. Poor preparation and improper application can be harmful. The majority of problems caused by water based programs come from using the wrong products when a floor is new or has been sanded down to the hard wood. Since the wood planks are designed to expand and contract with the changes in weather, the coating must allow it move slightly.

Oil based gym floor coatings allow the individual board to move independently. Many (not all) of the water based finishes and sealers can cause boards to stick together or side bond.

This can lead to separation between or even splitting of the boards. Once the coating base has been down for one to two years, any quality gym floor finish, water or oil, can be applied without concern of side bonding.

What is the advantage to using water base gym finish?

There are many advantages, but are 3 to get you started:

  1. Low odor. There are very few Volatile Organic Compounds (V.O.C.) with water based finishes. This makes them much safer for the staff applying the finish as well as those who are in the general vicinity of the gym when finish is being applied.
  2. Application and curing time. Typical oil modified gym finishes must be allowed to cure or dry for 7-10 days. This is a big problem for facilities that use their gym floors as a revenue source, community events and team practices. Water base gym finish can be applied in one day and only need 24-48 hours before opened back up for regular use.
  3. Longevity. With the previously mentioned ability for water base gym finish to be maintained, the floors can be kept looking good much longer. This can also lengthen the time between refinishing which allows for cost savings and additional time for use. Be sure to use a propane burnisher with a natural fiber pad for best results.

What is the cost difference With Water Base Gym Finish?

There is a cost difference between water base finishes and oil modified finishes. Water based gym coatings can be as much as twice the cost of oil modified. This cost can easily be justified in with the savings from shortened down time, reduced health hazards and by extending time between re-coating.

If you are considering the use of water base gym finish or are having issues with your current floor, please feel free to leave comments below.
Post pictures of problem areas and I will be happy to help!

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4 replies
  1. Linda
    Linda says:

    Our school gym floor is 10 years old. every 2 years it is recoated. We learn tonite that 3 different companies have coated it. #1 original, #2 coat was someone and #3 coat was someone. Now the floor is peeling, The operations guy said it looks like peeling sunburn. They are suggesting we skim down to the bare wood and start over…. Of course none of the contractors want to claim it was their product. Can you help, we are on tight budget and this is going to be up to the school to pay for. None of the contractors want to take responsibility.
    Thank you in advance.

    • BaldGuyClean
      BaldGuyClean says:

      I am sorry to hear about your floor. I have seen this exact same scenario many times. It’s probably not the product. I would go out on a limb and say that 99% of the time when there is a pealing problem with a wood floor finish, it is the floor preparation or finish application that is the cause. Now I’m not going to let the finish manufacturers off the hook and imply that they never have a bad batch of product, because they all have, but if that happens, there are usually lots of floors that have the same problem.

      Prepping a floor for refinishing is no easy task, and it is important to know how to do it properly. Too often short cuts are taken to save money and time.

      Now, without actually seeing the floor and the problem you are having, I cannot give you an exact diagnosis, but if the finish is pealing down to the bare wood, I’m afraid that sanding it all the way down is your only sure fix.

      My suggestion would be to pick a good contractor and stick with them. Call around to some other schools in your area and see who they are using and how long they have used them. Get references from the contractors themselves. If a service provider knows that they will be responsible for the floor over multiple years, they are more likely to take extra care when doing their work. I have seen many schools go with the cheapest option year after year and then end up spending much more fixing problems like this.

      I wish you luck and please keep me updated on how it turns out.

  2. Mari mckennon
    Mari mckennon says:

    Hello, we just refinished our gym floor with pro finisher (by parks) and it’s water based polyurethane. It looked great when we finished. But after the first day of practice on the new floor, it left scuff marks all over the floor. Not the black scuffs but clear ones that I can’t rub off.. it’s only been a week and it still has great grip and a shine but those marks look terrible… what do you suggest ?


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