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If you have original hardwood floors in your Seattle home, you likely want to keep them looking beautiful for years to come. Choosing the right protective finish is crucial for preserving your wood floors in Seattle’s damp, maritime climate. This is where moisture-cure urethane truly shines.

Moisture-cure urethane provides unparalleled moisture, scratch, and chemical resistance. Unlike other finishes, it actually cures harder and more durable when exposed to humidity and water. This makes it the ideal solution for hardwood flooring in rainy Seattle.

In this guide, we’ll explain everything about moisture-cure urethane – from why it’s best for Seattle homes to how to have it professionally installed on your floors. Let’s start with the basics.

What is Moisture-Cure Urethane?

Moisture-cure urethane is a high-performance wood floor finish that cures through a chemical reaction with moisture in the air. The main component is isocyanate, which reacts with atmospheric humidity to form a robust plastic polymer.

This is different from traditional polyurethane that cures by solvent evaporation. The isocyanate makes moisture-cure urethane highly reactive to water. It actually cures harder and more scratch-resistant when exposed to humidity during application and drying.

Moisture-cure urethane was developed specifically for hardwood flooring in regions with wet climates. It provides superior moisture, impact, and scratch protection that stands up to rainy Seattle weather.

Why Choose Moisture-Cure Urethane for Seattle?

There are several compelling reasons to choose moisture-cure urethane for refinishing hardwood floors in the Seattle area:

Extreme Moisture Resistance – The finish becomes more water-resistant as it cures in humid conditions. This prevents swelling and cupping.

Doesn’t Whiten or Haze – Stays crystal clear when subjected to water, unlike oil-based polyurethane which can whiten.

Quick Return to Service – Fully cures within 72 hours so floors can be used sooner.

Superior Scratch Protection – Its extreme hardness resists scuffs, abrasions, and pet claws. Easy to keep floors looking pristine.

Excellent Chemical Resistance – Protects against spills, cleaners, and other household chemicals that damage most finishes.

Long-Lasting Durability – Provides a wear layer that retains its hardness and luster for decades rather than years.

Easy Spot Repair – Scratches and localized damage can be repaired without resanding and refinishing the entire floor.

With benefits like these, it’s easy to see why moisture-cure urethane is regarded as the pinnacle for hardwood floor finishes, especially in wet climates like Seattle.

How Does It Compare to Other Finishes?

To help decide if moisture-cure urethane is right for your home, it helps to compare the performance against other common wood floor finishes:

Oil-Based Polyurethane – Provides good moisture and scratch resistance. However, humidity can cause whitening over time. Requires full sanding and refinishing for repairs.

Water-Based Polyurethane – Low odor and quick drying but not as moisture and scratch resistant as other options. Susceptible to whiting.

Swedish Finish (Oil-Modified) – Has a warmer appearance but still risks cloudiness when subjected to water. Also prone to ambering over time.

Moisture-Cure Urethane – Unparalleled durability, moisture resistance, and maintenance ease. The best choice for Seattle’s wet, humid climate.

While moisture-cure urethane comes with a higher initial cost than polyurethane, it will more than pay for itself in prolonged floor life, minimal upkeep, and repair avoidance.

When is Moisture-Cure Urethane the Best Choice?

Moisture-cure urethane is ideal for any Seattle homeowner wanting maximum protection for their hardwood floors. It really shines in certain situations:

Original Flooring in Older Homes – Breathes new life into irreplaceable vintage flooring that tells a home’s history.

Floors With High Traffic – Protects against heavy foot traffic, furniture movement, pets, kids, and events.

Rooms Prone to Moisture – Ideal for kitchens, baths, laundry rooms, and entryways that see water exposure.

Floors With Sun Exposure – Prevents UV damage and associated discoloration or hazing.

Condos/Apartments – Offers rental unit flooring that can withstand tenants and requires almost no upkeep.

Hard-to-Repair Floors – One-of-a-kind wood flooring that would be impossible to replace damaged boards in.

In any home, moisture-cure urethane provides the pinnacle in wood floor protection and ease of maintenance.

How is Moisture-Cure Urethane Applied?

Moisture-cure urethane is applied by flooring professionals in a process similar to traditional polyurethane:

Floor Preparation – Existing finish is sanded down to bare wood. Floors are then cleaned thoroughly to remove dust and debris.

First Coat – Using a specialized applicator, a thin coat is rolled on to penetrate the grain. Allow to dry 8-12 hours.

Second Coat – After light sanding, a second coat is applied in the opposite direction of the first coat. Another 8-12 hour drying time.

Third Coat – The final coat further builds protection and sheen. Floors can be used after 72 hours as the finish fully cures.

The product dries quickly, allowing multiple coats to be applied in a day. Humidity accelerates curing while enhancing moisture resistance.

Why Professional Installation is Critical

While DIYers can successfully apply traditional polyurethane, moisture-cure urethane has some unique considerations:

Strict Temperature Requirements – The product must be stored and applied within a narrow temperature range to prevent imperfections.

Limited Pot Life Once Mixed – The user has only 1-2 hours max to apply the mixed finish before it cures in the can. Leftover finish is wasted.

Hazardous Vapors – The isocyanate fumes require careful handling plus adequate personal protective equipment.

Skill Needed to Apply – Achieving an even, consistent application takes significant experience. Novices are prone to errors.

Small Margin for Imperfections – Minor flaws like dust nibs or bubbles will be permanent. Resanding between coats is challenging.

Premium Products Used – Mistakes mean wasting expensive finish. Professionals have access to pro-grade moisture-cure urethane unavailable to consumers.

Considering these factors, it’s strongly advised to have moisture-cure urethane applied by an experienced hardwood flooring contractor. Their skill and access to professional products will give you flawless results safely.

Conclusion – Maintaining Your Floors

Moisture-cure urethane provides Seattle homeowners with a beautiful, extremely durable finish able to withstand the region’s wet climate. Just be sure to have it professionally installed for optimal results.

Here are some tips for keeping your moisture-cure urethane floors looking pristine:

  • Sweep and dust mop regularly using soft bristle attachments.
  • Immediately wipe up spills and splatters. Never allow liquids to puddle.
  • Avoid abrasive cleaners. Use hardwood floor cleaner and damp mop periodically.
  • Only use cleaners specified as safe for urethane finishes.
  • Place entrance mats inside and outside exterior doors to prevent grit, dirt, and moisture from being tracked in.
  • Keep pet nails trimmed to prevent scratching. Use pet-friendly nail caps if necessary.
  • Use furniture cups and occasionally rearrange pieces to allow for even aging and wear.

With minimal lifetime maintenance, moisture-cure urethane will keep your Seattle hardwood floors gorgeously protected for decades to come. Let us know if you have any other flooring questions!

BONUS: Hiring a Seattle Flooring Contractor for Moisture-Cure Urethane

Installing moisture-cure urethane is definitely a job for the professionals. Here are some tips for finding the right flooring contractor:

Check Qualifications – Look for installers accredited by the National Wood Flooring Association. This demonstrates comprehensive training and adherence to industry best practices.

Verify Experience – Ask how many years of experience they have specifically with moisture-cure urethane. You want an established contractor who is an expert with the product.

Request References – Reputable contractors should be able to provide references from past moisture-cure urethane customers. Follow up with them about their satisfaction.

Compare Several Bids – Get quotes from 3-4 contractors to help find the best combination of experience and value for your project budget.

Inquire About Products Used – Ask what brand and grade of moisture-cure urethane will be used. Contractors have access to superior professional products.

Check for Proper Licensing – Verify they are properly licensed, bonded, and insured for your protection.

Get a Written Agreement – Have all project specifics, timeline, warranty details, price, and payment terms put into a written contract.

Taking the time to carefully hire a qualified hardwood flooring contractor ensures your moisture-cure urethane refinishing project is a success from start to finish. Let us know if you need any recommendations!

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