Gym Floor Finish: Oil vs. Water

Choosing which gym floor finish is best for your hardwood floor is an important decision. This is because facility maintenance wants a protective finish that improves playability and keeps ballers safe. However, there are floor finish options that make facility operators pause. A common issue is whether to protect your maple investment with oil-based or water-based gym floor finish.

Traditionally, gym floors have been coated with oil-based gym floor finish. Yet recently, water-based floor finish has gained popularity. The differences between the two influence which product to go with. Are you time crunched for an upcoming event? What is the difference in price? Perhaps the quality of the finish (the look and feel) sways your decision. In some cases this decision feels like appliance shopping. However, choosing which gym floor finish to go with affects both budget and maintenance operations.

Oil Vs. Water-Based Floor Finish

It’s important to discuss your facility’s needs and schedule when contacting a QHF professional about refinishing. By doing so, our staff can walk you through the many factors that lead to a finish-type decision. This side-by-side comparison below breaks down the common pros and cons of oil vs. water finish.

Oil-Based Floor Finish


  • Requires 1 coat
  • Less expensive than Water-based finish
  • Dry time: 72 Hours
  • Requires less maintenance over time
  • More protective finish containing 45-50 percent solids


  • Traditional amber finish
  • Strong odors

Water-Based Floor Finish


  • Goes on clear and virtually odorless
  • Preserves natural wood appearance
  • Cleans-up with water
  • Eco-friendly


  • Costs about twice as much as oil-based finish
  • Requires 2 coats
  • Will need to apply additional coats more frequently
Advantage Coatings Tech Defense Water Based Sealer
By Advantage Coatings Tech.

Defense Gym Finish – Water Based

Advantage Coatings’ Defense Sport finish is a premium 2-component waterborne coating, specifically designed for high gloss and durability.

Recommended Uses:
Basketball, racquetball, volleyball, squash and badminton courts; multi-purpose gyms, stages, aerobic and dance floors.

Advantage Coatings Tech. - Water Based Gym Floor Finishes
Advantage Coatings Tech Defense Oil Based Sealer
By Advantage Coatings Tech.

Pro Sport Poly 50 – Oil-based Gym Finish

Performance Sport Poly 50 is a high solids gym floor finish that gives exceptional build. Sport Poly 50’s high-gloss protective coating provides unsurpassed chemical resistance and durability.


  • High Solids Gym Finish
  • Exceptional Build
Advantage Coatings Tech. - Oil Based Gym Floor Finishes

Now that you have reviewed differences between oil and water-based finishes it is time to decide what makes sense for you.  The QHF pros are available to field any remaining questions you may have.  Upon your decision, QHF then schedules your gym floor for refinishing based upon your requirements.

Client First Gym Floor Finishing

As always, QHF puts you, the client, first. Because of this, we are committed to refinishing your gym floors as you want them, on time and in-budget. This leaves you with a refinished, “like-new” gym floor that makes your whole team proud.  Even after the job is finished, QHF will be ready for any maintenance questions.

Oil or Water?

Which gym floor finish is right for you? Refinish your gym floor in time for your next event, and avoid costly maintenance issues.

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