Don’t Let Your Hardwood Floors Turn Yellow

Hardwood Floors Yellow

I have had many people ask about the yellow look of oak floors. The good news is that the oak is not actually yellowing. It is actually the polyurethane finish that has yellowed. If you want your floors to remain oak colored and work well with your other stained items, I would suggest using a water-based polyurethane floor finish. But there is a potential problem with water-based polyurethane. It can make a floor look lifeless. The solution to this is to apply an oil-based polyurethane for the first coat to make the oak look its best. Then apply two coats of a good water-based polyurethane over that to block light from getting to the oil-based poly and making it yellow. The water-based poly is actually a harder and more durable finish. So you will have that benefit, too.

Oak floor

You might get a builder or even a floor finisher telling you that oil and water don’t mix and this won’t work. But they would be wrong. The water and oil are only the “carrying” agents of the finish and do not remain present in the finish. You are never actually mixing oil and water. This finishing method works great. The wood floors in my own house are finished this way.

This a a rosewood floor that was finished using the technique described.
This a a rosewood floor that was finished using the technique described.

I hope this information is helpful to you. You might want to get yourself a copy of my best-seller, Designing Your Perfect House. It is chockfull of valuable tips and advice that will save you many times the cost of the book on your house building or remodeling project. You might also like The Well-Centered Home: Simple Steps to Increase Mindfulness, Self-Awareness, and Happiness Where You Live. It will show you how to make your home a happy place.

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Bill Hirsch | Architect

Bill Hirsch


  1. Marilyn on September 17, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    Nice to know this. I really don’t want yellow floors. Now all I gotta do is convince our builder.

    • Bill Hirsch | Architect William Hirsch on September 19, 2017 at 9:38 am

      Marilyn – You might want to look up some information on the Bona or Minwax websites or talk with their technical support to get more data to convince the floor finisher that this works. Good luck.

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