Choosing the Best Finish for Hardwood Floors with Dogs

Whether you are protecting new wood floors or refinishing old, worn-out floors, choosing the best finish for your hardwood floor can cause selection headaches. There are tons of finishes designed for different species of hardwood floors, so you need to decide the one that best suits your floor.

We all want for hardwood floors to see them looking beautiful, shiny, and tough. However, this is impossible if we don’t apply a protective finish, especially if you have dogs around the home. This is why we decided to write this article on the best finish for hardwood floors with dogs to make your selection more straightforward.

Why Do You Need a Good Finish for Hardwood Floors with Dogs?

Approximately 60% of Americans own dogs as pets, and about a third own more than one dog. It’s enough reason to understand why there’s an increase in demand for durable hardwood floors. However, this isn’t enough because these hardwood floors will lose their durability and become damaged over time.

Hardwood floors can beautify your home and add a lot of value to it, but what’s the guarantee that it will survive your dog’s activities? Accidents happen; dog urine, vomits, and nails can rip into the hardwood floor surface, leaving dents and marks that make the floor unpleasant to see and damaged.

This is why it’s necessary to protect your hardwood floor with the right finish. Oil-based and wax-based finishes are the most ideal because they conceal dust and scratches better. Additionally, they prevent moisture and urine from penetrating the wood grain, keeping the floor looking beautiful and protected.

Best Finish for Hardwood Floors with Dogs – Our Top Picks

1. Rust-Oleum Oil Polyurethane – Best Overall Finish for Hardwood

Rust-Oleum Oil Polyurethane is arguably the best finish for hardwood floors on this list, but an expensive one at that. If you are not worried about your budget, this product will make an excellent choice for coating your hardwood floor.

While this product is somewhat expensive for a finish, it packs lots of benefits and features. It’s thick and formulated for heavy use. Due to the thickness and the fact that it’s oil-based, it takes longer to dry after application. However, temperature and humidity can affect drying time.

This thick product dries into a durable finish, bringing out a rich, satin color that makes the wood appealing and light-colored. It makes the product an excellent choice for most flooring jobs. However, it might not go so well with pre-treated surfaces.

Due to its thick consistency, soaking deep into the surface is minimal. This also helps the product to dry quicker than expected, which isn’t bad.

Unlike some products, this one doesn’t give off a bad, pungent smell. It means that you can apply the product without wearing a face mask. However, ventilation is still required, and you can use this product safely in states with good environmental protection laws.

Rust-Oleum Oil Polyurethane might be expensive, but you can’t discard its quality features and benefits. It’s durable, doesn’t give off a bad smell, and improves the color of the wood grain.


  • Dries into a durable finish
  • It doesn’t give off a strong smell.
  • Brings out a rich, satin color that improves the wood grain
  • Doesn’t soak into the wood
  • Requires minimal coating


  • It’s costly.
  • It doesn’t suit all types of hardwood floors.

2. Rust-Oleum FBA 230031 Varathane Gallon Gloss Waterborne Diamond Floor Finish – Best Drying Formula

If you want a water-based formula that will provide a crystal-clear finish and protect your hardwood floors from dents, you should consider getting this product.

This formula is designed for high-traffic areas, so you don’t have to worry about your dog damaging the area with his nails. It offers superior durability and resistance to abrasion and scuff while providing a high-gloss finish. Thanks to its stain and chemical-resistance ability, dog urine and vomits will not be able to penetrate the wood, preserving the wood grain and enhancing its durability.

Being that it’s water-based, the formula dries in no time. It allows same-day re-coating, meaning that you don’t have to wait for up to 24 hours before applying the second coat.

The good thing about using this formula is you don’t have to sand between coats. Once you apply the first coat, you only need to wait for about an hour and a half before applying the next. Conclusively, it has a low odor, and you can easily clean it up with soap and water.

This is one of the best water-based finishes for hardwood floors. The product can give you effortless usage with less powerful odor, clear cleanup, and fast-drying ability.


  • Dries pretty well
  • Doesn’t require sanding in between coats
  • Allows same day re-coating
  • It’s straightforward to apply.
  • Easy to clean
  • Offers superior durability and abrasion resistance
  • Nice gloss finish


  • Gives off a minimal smell

3. Deft Lacquer Sanding Sealer – Best for Durability

Deft Lacquer Sanding Sealer is a product that’s designed to give you the perfect protective finish you have always wanted to give your hardwood floor. This spray product is 100% nitrocellulose and formulated to harden on the first coat. It means you don’t have to re-coat multiple times to get the right finish, and this what makes the product interesting to use.

One coat of this lacquer spray product will block stains and moisture from seeping into the wood, so you don’t have to be scared if your dog pees on your floor. You can add another coat for increased durability and a smoother finish. Thankfully, it also doesn’t yellow and hardens in the can once you don’t use it.

The drying ability is impressive. It doesn’t leave the floor tacky, and the first coat dries in thirty minutes. You can sand after an hour and then re-coat again. You must sand the first coat if you want a smooth finish because the surface tends to have a rough feel.

The good thing about this lacquer spray is it’s non-toxic when dry and convenient to sand. Its ability to dry fast and ease of sanding means your coating time gets reduced drastically.

Undoubtedly, this is the most suitable sealer to use amongst the products reviewed here so far. It doesn’t require brushing, unlike polyurethane, and dries incredibly fast. Overall, we recommend this product for people who don’t want to go through the technicalities involved in using a finish.


  • Extremely convenient to sand
  • Hardens after the first coat
  • Don’t need to re-coat multiple times to attain the desired finish
  • Dries fast and non-toxic when dry
  • It doesn’t yellow over time.
  • Straightforward to apply
  • Clear finish


  • The quantity of the spray can is a little too small.
  • Slightly expensive

4. Zar 33012 Semi-Gloss Interior Ultra Polyurethane – Best Self-Levelling Formula

Zar is another brand you can trust for making quality finishes for hardwood floors. The Zar Semi-Gloss Poly features a self-leveling formula that provides a smooth and even finishes after the application. For those who hate seeing brush strokes during the application, we strongly recommend this fantastic product.

This product also has a fast drying time. At most, you should expect the finish to dry within two hours after the first coat, even if the environmental factors are not too favorable. This means you can get your application done in no time and get back to other tasks.

In terms of durability, we have no complaints about the product. It dries into a durable and tough finish that makes it impossible for dents and scratches from dogs to appear. However, the floor can be a little too smooth after application, which may increase the chances of falling.

It’s also affordable. Most buyers will not have to complain about the cost considering that it comes with nice features.

Considering its self-leveling ability, Zar Polyurethane is one of the best products to buy in the market, especially if you are concerned about brush strokes appearing on your hardwood floor. Thanks to its tough abrasion-resistant finish, you should expect your hardwood floor to last for many years.


  • It has a fast-drying ability.
  • Self-levels
  • Dries into a durable and robust finish
  • Good value for the money
  • Abrasion-resistant


  • The floor appears too smooth after application, which may increase the chances of falling.
  • The formula doesn’t darken the wood.

5. Duraseal Polyurethane Clear Oil-based Wood Floor Durable Protective Finish – Best Affordable Polyurethane

Hardwood floors are subject to dog scratches and dents, which is why maintaining them is difficult. However, the Duraseal Polyurethane Clear Oil-based Wood Floor Finish comes in a unique formula designed to protect your hardwood floor from these damages.

Duraseal is a popular brand for refinishing hardwood floors, and this clear oil-based polyurethane finish is one of the most durable finishes available. It offers optimal scratch resistance and prevents the floor from being damaged by the dog’s nails.

This transparent oil-based product enriches and deepens the wood’s color, making it easy to remove spills and dirt. You can find this clear oil-based polyurethane in various sheens (satin, matte, gloss, and semi-gloss) to suit your application preference.

It’s also straightforward to apply, with a drying time of about eight hours. You don’t need a professional to help you with the application as the instructions are clearly labeled.

The poly formula also has good coverage, with a gallon offering up to 500 square feet of coverage. If you intend to coat a large area, you must consider the poly’s coverage.

Since this product covers a large area, it will save you some money from multiple applications. Not only does this product has good coverage, but it also levels evenly and uniformly with minimal issues.

However, you will have to apply multiple coats to achieve the required durability level. So if you have large projects to do, you may likely use up the content in the gallon, increasing the overall cost.

The poly is also affordable, considering that it comes in a 1-gallon size, 2.5, and 5 gallon-sizes, whereas other oil-based polyurethanes come in 1 quart.

Duraseal Polyurethane Clear Oil-based Wood Floor Durable Protective Finish delivers a superb result. It’s a high-quality product that comes at a super affordable price, easy to use, and durable.


  • Excellent coverage
  • Straightforward to apply
  • Available in different sheens and sizes
  • Formulated to offer resistance to dents and scratches
  • Forms a deep, rich color finish


  • Requires multiple coats for optimal durability
  • Longer drying time

Things to consider when choosing the right finish for your hardwood floors for dogs.

Best Finish for Hardwood Floors with Dogs

The task of refinishing your hardwood floor starts with choosing the right protective finish. However, selecting the best finish for hardwood floors with dogs is not easy, considering the high number of finishes available in the market.

Hardwood floor finishes differ in the level of ease, durability, glossiness, and drying. It would help if you put all these factors into consideration before making an informed decision. Below are the factors to consider when buying a dog-proof hardwood floor finish.

Type of Finish

There are different types of finish you can use on your hardwood floor. These are water-based polyurethane, oil-based polyurethane, moisture-cure urethane, wax, and shellac. These finishes differ in drying, durability, and sheen.

Water-based polyurethane looks milky but dries clearly. Many homeowners prefer using it because it doesn’t yellow over time and creates durable finishes. This is because they are made with synthetic resins and plasticizers. Water-based poly is easy to maintain and straightforward to apply as well.

Water-based poly is also environmental-friendly, as it releases fewer volatile organic compounds than other finishes. It has a slight odor, and you don’t need to wait for so many hours before using the floor. However, it doesn’t hide scratches or stains because of the clear finish.

Oil-based polyurethane is another option. Composed of linseed oil, synthetic resins, and plasticizers, this finish is designed for high-traffic areas. It’s more durable than water-based polyurethane and easy to clean. However, it has a slight amber tint and can yellow over time, regardless of the sheen.

It also has a strong odor because it contains some volatile organic compounds. You’ll need to wear a respirator while using this to protect your lungs. Oil-based polyurethane dries slowly, but it is very affordable.

Moisture-cure urethane offers a tough finish, and it’s highly durable. It draws moisture from the air to cure, so you’ll need to apply the finish in a humid environment. An environment that’s too humid or too dry will affect the dryness negatively.

It dries to a high shine and resists scratches and wear. Unlike the rest, it’s difficult to apply unless you know how to do it yourself. It also has a high VOC, and the odor can linger for almost a week. Because of the nature of moisture-cure urethane, it’s mainly used commercially.

If you want a low sheen finish, then you should consider wax finishes. Wax is a popular finish that’s straightforward to apply and touch up. Most homeowners prefer it because of its low sheen. Wax comes in liquid and pastes forms.

Both liquid and paste waxes require that you apply them severally. However, they don’t create an excellent durable finish and can scratch too. They can also yellow over time.

Shellac has low volatile organic compounds and doesn’t give off a strong smell. It adheres well to hardwood and dries quickly to a glossy finish with an orange tint. Because of its fast-drying ability, it can be challenging to apply.
Additionally, it’s prone to alcohol and ammonia damage and doesn’t hold up in traffic areas. You may want to consider your options before choosing this product.


Polyurethane, lacquer, and shellac can appear in matte, gloss, satin, and semi-gloss finishes. Matte and satin finishes are great if you want to conceal dust, dirt, and scratches better. Unless you want a clear and transparent surface and aren’t bothered about your wood showing dents, you should opt for gloss and semi-gloss finishes.


It would be best if you opted for finishes that have wide coverage. By the wide coverage, we mean products that can cover a large area when applied once. Opting for products with a wide coverage will minimize the amount of paint used and the cost of purchasing new paints.


Poly products can appear dark while others show a light color. If you want to conceal stains and dirt, we recommend opting for finishes that appear dark after application.

How to Protect Hardwood Floors from Dog Urine

No matter how much you invest in training your dog, there are certain things that you can’t prevent the dog from doing, and one of them is accidentally urinating on your precious hardwood floor. Dog urine can be damaging to hardwood floors. For this reason, you need to come up with ways to prevent your four-legged friend from damaging the elegant and refined finish of your floor.

Below are ways you can protect your hardwood floors from dog urine.

Apply a hardwood floor sealant

Apply the correct hardwood floor sealant to improve the texture and durability of the wood. Wood is porous and can allow moisture, no matter how little, into its layer. A sealant will create a glass barrier between the surface and the dog, preventing dog urine from seeping into the wood.

Use Penetrating Oils

Hardwood floors may lose its shine if it’s coated with so many layers of polyurethane. If that’s the case with yours, applying a penetrating oil is the next ideal option. Penetrating oils seep into the wood’s grain and strengthens the wood fiber, thereby improving the look of your floor. Additionally, it helps to block moisture and the dog’s urine from penetrating the wood.

Place a flooring material in the house

Using a sealant and penetrating oil can minimize hardwood floor damage. However, you can use other things like flooring material to further protect the wood by placing it in areas where your dog frequents or accidentally urinates.

For instance, if your pet pees in one corner of the room, you can place a flooring material there to absorb the urine, safeguarding the floor from the urine. This flooring material can be a mat or a rug.

How can I protect my hardwood floors from my dog?

To protect your hardwood floors from your dog, your first line of defense is to keep your dog’s nails clipped. This will prevent damages to your floor. Other ways to protect your hardwood floors from dog damages are by keeping them finished and applying dog nail coverings.

Do dogs ruin hardwood floors?

Dogs can ruin hardwood floors. Dog’s urine, vomit, and sharp nails can damage the hardwood floor and the finish. The urine can seep into the floor, damaging the floor and bring out a stench smell. The nails can cause scratches and dents as well.

How long should dogs stay off refinished hardwood floors?

Dogs should stay off newly refinished hardwood floors for up to two weeks. Their nails can dent the refinished floor, which is why you need to keep them off.

How many coats of polyurethane should you put on hardwood floors?

A minimum of two coats is perfect if you apply an oil-based polyurethane and lacquer on hardwood floors. You can add an extra coat for extra protection, but you should know that one coat of oil-based poly takes 24 hours to dry.

How messy is refinishing hardwood floors?

Refinishing hardwood floors produces lots of dust, and that’s the only significant drawback of refinishing. Despite the messiness, refinishing hardwood floors can revitalize and enhance their beauty.

What is the best way to apply polyurethane to hardwood floors?

The best way to apply polyurethane, especially an oil-based product, to hardwood floors is to use a lambswool applicator. This applicator is effective in spreading the poly more evenly across the surface than a roller.

What is the best time of the year to refinish hardwood floors?

The best time of the year to refinish hardwood floors is spring or fall. At this particular time, the indoor temperature is most consistent with the outdoor temperature. There’s plenty of air to dry the finish, completing the work faster. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t refinish hardwood floors at other times of the year.


Coating a hardwood floor is vital if you want to use it for years to come. Hardwood floors are prone to wear and tear, especially when dogs are involved. You wouldn’t want to be replacing the floor each time scratches or dents appear on it.

Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about replacing your floor any time soon with the best finish for hardwood floors with dogs. These oil and water-based formulas will protect your hardwood floor from dents, stains and seal out water from seeping into the wood. These formulas will also add a richer color and depth to the woods, making them look more beautiful.