I am planning to sand and polyurethane a floor in an industrial loft, my question is what poly to use.. water or spirit based, and is there anything elae that makes a difference in choice of poly? And do I need to stain first or will I get a nice enough golden tint from the poly?

Attached is a photo of an identical floor that was finished by someone else and I like the way it looks, not sure if it was stained first or if this appearance is solely from the spirit based poly??? I don't mind a finish on the lighter side but not totally clear. Advice please thanks!

enter image description here

  • What is your floor currently finished with? Is is wood, steel, concrete? How much wear & tear is it going to get? Occasional foot traffic, heavy foot traffic, light industrial machines (fork lifts, pallet jacks, etc.)? Even with those details, many are likely to consider this an "opinion based" question, because there are many fine products and many pros/cons for each.
    – FreeMan
    Apr 23, 2021 at 18:37
  • I went to look at the photo and the site wanted me to log in so I did not continue.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 23, 2021 at 18:52
  • Sorry I'm trying to make the photo work, give me a few minutes Apr 23, 2021 at 19:10
  • Fixed! Would appreciate you taking a look. The floor is some type of hardwood, it's probably at least 80 years old, it was (my floor, not the one in the photo) stained with a dark stain around 15 years ago and then a spirit based poly was applied, but 15 years of heavy foot and equipment traffic has worn the poly down (and in some areas, the stain as well)... so I want to spruce it up. Thinking of just sanding off the stain since it seems to not have penetrated very far. Apr 23, 2021 at 19:24
  • 1
    I would rent a drum sander and take it down where the soft sections have absorbed gunk that will probably come up with a heavy first pass then a clean up fine pass and you will be back to real old beautiful floors.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 23, 2021 at 19:48

1 Answer 1


I would use solvent based poly for an industrial loft. I am partial to solvent based and have had friends that said they had good success with water based (I have not had as good results) so this a opinion, however the solvent based tends to hold up better or did in wear testing so for something more than residential I would go solvent based it drys better with varying conditions were water based is more affected by the weather.

  • 1
    Yes, and solvent-based poly will impart a bit of warmth (if not actual color); whereas water-poly is totally clear (you mentioned in your question that you don't want totally clear). You can always stain... Apr 24, 2021 at 14:00
  • Thank you, I took your advice and although I did not have the time to sand the floor down completely smooth (I had only one day for the job, and it is a very rough 1930's floor with many holes, gouges, loose boards and splinters), I was able to make a big difference in the worst areas with several sanding passes. I then did two coats of solvent-based poly and the color is great, just what I wanted. Thanks! Apr 26, 2021 at 20:13
  • It sounds great, if you add an after photo as an edit to your question you may get additional upvotes, I can only give 1 but it sounds good.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 26, 2021 at 20:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.