Your choice of finish for your timber flooring should not be purely based on the aesthetic value that it will add to your flooring. The finish should also have the primary function of protecting the timber from unnecessary risk of damage such as moisture exposure, scratching and overall mechanical wear that would inevitably decrease its lifespan. Therefore, it is crucial to take the time an learn about the finishes that are available to your and the properties that would benefit your flooring based on your individual needs. Here is a brief guide on the finishes that you could consider for your timber floors.
If you would like something that is cost effective and will provide some degree of protection to your timber floors, a wood varnish would be a good choice. Varnishes tend to be much more affordable than other floor finishes as they are not manufactured using premium compounds. The main chemical bases used to form these varnishes include epoxy, phenol, alkyd or polyurethane. It should be noted that varnishes do have a tendency of acquiring scratches when used in areas of dense traffic, so limit the application of this finish to timber floors that are either not exposed to high usage or will have the added protection of a rug.
This finish is highly glossy and would be ideal for flooring that is installed in rooms that would need the additional reflectivity of finish. Shellac is also highly popular for finishing timber floors as it dries in a short time, so you would not have to be concerned about the flooring being out of use for a long duration. Nonetheless, shellac does have a couple of drawbacks. Firstly, since this is a surface finish, it is not as long-lasting as the penetrative sealers that are in the market. Therefore, you would have to refinish the flooring on a regular basis to maintain the sheen that it provides. Secondly, shellac is not waterproof so you would still have to engage in consistent maintenance measures to protect your timber floors from moisture damage.
If you preferred a penetrative finish, an oil-based stain would be an excellent choice. The oil pigments in the finish collect in the pores of the timber flooring, which functions to seal them from water penetration. Additionally, the oil-based stain accentuates the natural pattern of the timber gain, giving your floors a unique appearance. Oil-based stains have a matte finish, but you could apply a layer of shellac on top to add some shine to the floors.