When we recommend Bona, we do it with a Swedish accent.
Bona is a well-established Swedish manufacturer of flooring polyurethanes.
Best known for its waterborne line of products, these finishes are marketed to the flooring trades, which is why they are only available in gallons. We can ship these products anywhere in the US - just call and talk to us over the phone (651-698-5888) and we can help you make a selection. And yes, we will be slightly more expensive than Amazon, but keep in mind that Amazon hasn't be using these finishes for 19 years and won't be able to answer all your questions.
Keep in mind that waterbone finishes are NOT freeze-thaw stable, so if you're looking for us to ship to you, we may have to delay your shipment based on temperatures here in Minnesota!
We can't say this enough: always use the sealer specified by the brand of polyurethane you are using. Full strength flooring polyurethane is so full of solids that it struggles to sink deeply into the wood grain. This compromises the bond of the finish to the wood. Sealers soak in and stick to wood better than poly. The later poly coats will bond better to sealer than they will to the wood, and they will level and flow more reliably. Sealers also:
- prevent tannin pull on oak floors
- prevent side-bonding - when the finish manages to temporarily glue long board edges together, but things get ugly when that bond breaks a few months later
- give you a much cheaper way to get your first coat of protection
Bona has a magnificent range of sealers, each with a slightly different look. We don't carry all of them, just our favorites:
NaturalSeal - It's new!!
This stuff is new, but amazing! Its magic is to make wood look like it wasn't coated at all. Being able to protect wood, without being able to see that layer of protective coating, is an amazing chemical achievement. Bona does this by suspending the tiniest amount of white pigment in the finish mixture.This white pigment offsets the "wet" look you automatically get from all film finishes. If you want the natural look of a European penetrating oil finish, but with more abrasion resistance, NaturalSeal delivers.
NordicSeal can be used a single layer under two coats of Bona Mega or Bona Traffic, or you can double-coat the NaturalSeal and get close to the appearance of a light white stain. But be careful: any time there is a pigment in a coat, you increase the possibility of lapping the edges. This product is more difficult to apply than ClassicSeal.
Published coverage rate is 400-500 sqft per gallon but we consistently get 350sqft at best, so calculate accordingly.
Solvent base: water VOC level: 250g per liter (2.1lbs per gallon) Price: $78 per gallon
Classic Seal (formerly Bonaseal)
Classic Seal is the new name for Bonaseal, which was the original waterborne base coat designed to work under all Bona's top coats. We always thought it was crystal clear, until we saw it next to the new NordicSeal, and now we know that there is a slight amber tint to it. However, it has nothing like the amount of amber in an oil-based coat. It is the goldilocks of all the Bona sealers - neither too white nor too brown. And we've used it and loved it for years.
A single layer of ClassicSeal is recommended under two coats of either Mega or Traffic polyurethane.
Our only quibble with ClassicSeal is that it is extraordinarily difficult to sand. We always use lightly screen after our seal coat to try to knock back the grain raise, but ClassicSeal is so elastic, that it just grabs and makes the buffer a nightmare to run. We find that using coarse 3M maroon pads helps with the grabbiness, but it's still a pain.
Published coverage is 500 sqft, but we get closer to 350sqft, especially in early spring.
Solvent base: water VOCs are 100g/L (.85 lbs per gallon) $65 per gallon
AmberSeal is Bona's proposed solution to getting the amber of an oil-based sealer, with none of the stink and VOCs of an oil-based sealer. We say "proposed" because it doesn't quite work as promised. It certainly does not deliver as much color as an oil-based sealer, but it does deliver more than ClassicSeal. First-time users beware though; there is enough color in Amberseal that uneven application can allow lap lines and dark puddles!
The real reason we love this sealer, and why it is our first choice for all of our contracting work, is for how easily it screens. Here's the thing that Bona won't tell you: they claim that you don't need to abrade their sealers before coating over them, but we always do because these water-based sealers voraciously raise and roughen the grain. We insist on knocking that back before the other coats make it permament. And Amberseal is the easiest to screen of the entire Bona sealer selection. VOCs are 250g/L or 2.1lbs per gallon.
Coverage is 350-400 sqft per gallon.
Solvent base: water VOCs are 250g per liter (2.1lb per gallon) $75 per gallon
Bona DriFast Sealer
And here's where we change it up, because despite the fact that this page is all about waterborne finishes, Bona actually makes their own oil-based sealer, specifically designed to be used under their water-based top coats. Yes, we know that sounds like the beginning of a DIY nightmare, but Bona's DriFast oil-based sealer will play nice even under waterborne finishes as long as you follow their directions. And the main direction is this: you must let the DriFast dry for 12 hours and then you must abrade it with a 150-180 grit screen before top-coating it with Mega or Traffic. But following those directions is worth it to get that extraordinarily even, warm amber color that oil-based finishes deliver so effortlessly. It is a crazy, hybrid solution that gives you the best of both worlds.
Solvent base: mineral spirits VOC level 550g/L (4.6lbs per gallon) $54 per gallon (available for ground ship only)
Mega was one of Bona's first waterborne products in the US market. We've been using it for 20 years and find that it has exceptional flow and working time for water-based finish. It has much less of a tendency to foam than other waterborne brands we've used. And it is at least as tough as a high-quality oil-based polyurethane. It pours well from the jug and they include a filter with every gallon to place in the jug opening before use.
And even though the jug does not specify this, we ALWAYS screen the Bonaseal or AmberSeal before we apply Mega. We just find that the grain raise caused by the first coat of waterborne can still be felt, two coats later! I know, we sound like the Princess and the Pea, but a smooth floor texture is worth it.
BUT you do not need to abrade between coats of Mega as long as you do them within 48 hours of each other.
Solvent base: water VOCs are 150g/L (1.25lbs per gallon) $75 and covers 500sqft per gallon.
Spendy, but long-lasting. According to the Taber Abrasion Test data supplied by Bona, it takes about twice as many steps to wear through Traffic than it does to wear through Mega.
It is especially recommended for kitchens, bathrooms and any room that gets direct walk-in traffic from an exterior door. It is a 2-part catalyzed finish with a 4-hour pot life after catalyzation, so only mix up enough for one coat at a time! Just like Mega, you do not need to screen between coats as long as you do them within 24 hours of each other.
Coverage rate is not quite as far as Mega - about 400sqft per gallon
Available in Commercial Matte, Commercial Satin, Commercial Semi-gloss, and Commercial Gloss
solvent base: water VOCs are 210g/L (1.8 lbs per gallon) $130 per gallon
Bona Traffic HD
Like Traffic but better. Slightly more abrasion resistant, lower VOCs, but most importantly, it gets closer to full cure in 24 than any other Bona product. Traffic HD is 80% cured after 24 hours, 90% cured at 72 hours. Traffic HD
Coverage rate is 350-400sqft per gallon
Available in Commercial Matte, Commercial Satin, and Commercial Semi-gloss
Solvent base: water VOCs are 150g/L (1.25lbs per gallon) $145 per gallon
Bona Traffic Anti-Slip
All the things you love about Traffic, but with a friction co-efficient that allows it to be grippy even when wet. Ideal for bathroom, kitchens, nursing home ramps, and for people who have recently fallen down their stairs.
Solvent base: water VOCs 210 g/L (1.75lbs per gallon) satin sheen $130 per gallon
Aren’t waterborne polyurethanes inferior to oil-based ones?
Waterbornes seem to have a bad reputation, but their quality has improved drastically since they first appeared. Check the side-bar at right for a more nuanced answer about the differences between the two types of finish.
I just put a coat of waterborne on my floor and it looks like there is no finish on it at all — what happened?
We've even had indignant calls from customers from other companies, claiming that their floors hadn't been coated at all. But it almost always turns out that the other company was completely thorough and aboveboard; they simply had applied a water-based finish without explaining to the customer how it would look.
Because they contain no color and no pigments of any kind, waterbased finishes look naked and pale. And if a low-gloss sheen was used, it will look even more naked! Don't worry, there is still plenty of protection, even if the finish doesn't appear glossy and amber.
If you prefer the slightly warmer, golden look, make sure you specify that with your contractor. And almost all floor finishes come in a variety of sheens these days, so if you have a preference there, speak up!
I happen to know that the floor I am going to sand was originally coated with Traffic. Is that going to be more difficult to sand off?
You bet it is. Whatever cross-linking qualities that finish uses to resist the abrasion of foot traffic also resists the abrasion of the sander. Kadee had to sand Traffic off part of the storefront floor and was using 24grit on the edger and still having to lean her whole body weight onto the machine.
A better solutionis to use Bona Prep to chemically soften the floor first so that your abrasive can bite into it. Available for purchase in the online shop!