Here is why we recommend Bona hardwood floor sealers and topcoats.

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 U.S.

Just call 651-698-5888 to talk to us and we can help you make a selection.

And yes, we will be slightly more expensive than Amazon, but Amazon hasn’t been using these finishes for more than 20 years, and won’t be able to answer all your questions.

Keep in mind that waterborne 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 at our store in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Bona Sealers

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 – that 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.

European look, with resistance

If you want the natural look of a European penetrating oil finish, but with more abrasion resistance, NaturalSeal delivers.

NaturalSeal can be used a single layer under two coats of Bona Mega or Bona Traffic HD, 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.

NaturalSeal

Published coverage rate: 400-500sqft per gallon but we consistently get 350sqft at best, so calculate accordingly

Solvent base: Water

VOC level: 250g per liter (2.1lbs per gallon)

Classic Seal (formerly Bonaseal)

Classic Seal is the new name for Bonaseal

This is 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, we’ve used it and loved it for years.

A single layer of ClassicSeal is recommended under two coats of either Mega or Traffic HD 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 buffer pads helps with the grabbiness, but it’s still a pain.

Classic Seal (formerly Bonaseal)

Published coverage rate: Published coverage is 500sqft, but we get closer to 350sqft, especially in early spring

Solvent base: Water

VOC level: 100g per liter (.85 lbs per gallon)

AmberSeal

AmberSeal is Bona’s proposed solution to get the amber of an oil-based sealer, without 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.

AmberSeal

Published coverage rate: 350-400sqft per gallon

Solvent base: Water

VOC level: 250g per liter (2.1lb per gallon) 

Bona Topcoats

DriFast Sealer

And here’s where we change it up.

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- to 180-grit screen before top-coating it with Mega or Traffic HD.

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.

DriFast Sealer

Published coverage rate: 350-500sqft

Solvent base: Mineral spirits

VOC level: 550g/L (4.6lbs per gallon)

Bona Mega

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.

Mega

Four sheen levels: Gloss, Semigloss, Satin, or Extra Matte

Published coverage rate: 400-500sqft

Solvent base: Water

VOC level: 150g/L (1.25lbs per gallon)

BonaTraffic HD

The Tough Stuff.

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 48 hours of each other.

More abrasion resistant, lowest VOCs, but most importantly, it gets closer to full cure in 24 hours than any other Bona product.

Traffic HD is 80% cured after 24 hours, 90% cured at 72 hours.

BonaTraffic HD

Available in Semi-gloss, Satin or Commercial Matte

Published coverage rate: 350-400sqft per gallon

Solvent base: Water

VOC level: 150g/L (1.25lbs per gallon)

Bona Traffic HD Anti-Slip

Tough AND great for stairs.

Bona Traffic HD Anti-Slip has all the things you love about Traffic HD, 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.

 

Bona Traffic Anti-Slip

Available in satin sheen only.

Published coverage rate: 350-400sqft per gallon

Solvent base: Water

VOC level: 150g/L (1.25lbs 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. Scroll down to read Pete’s Bonus Tip “Isn’t oil-based polyurethane the best finish?” 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.

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 24-grit sandpaper on the edger and still having to lean her whole body weight onto the machine.

A better solution is to use Bona Prep, a spray designed to chemically soften the floor before you sand so that your abrasive can bite into it.

Pete’s Bonus Tips

What you should know about modern waterborne finishes.

Waterborne finishes have improved exponentially since they first appeared on the market.

Modern air quality regulations have encouraged manufacturers of waterborne polyurethane to step up their game.

Waterborne finishes are much more resistant to wear and solvents than they were even 15 years ago (please note that we're referring to respected finish manufacturers; inexpensive, big-box store waterborne finishes can still perform poorly).

They are also much less prone to foaming and will level better than they used to.

So, don't just categorically dismiss this class of finishes, but make a educated decision based on what we do know about them.

    Five things to know about waterborne finishes
    1. Waterborne finishes, unless their container says otherwise, have no color. None. Especially compared to oil-based polyurethane. Even Amberseal can't warm a floor up as well as oil poly. There are ways to get around this - read about Bona's oil-based Dri-Fast Sealer designed for use under their line of waterborne finishes.
    2. You don't need to use a respirator for the waterborne finshes we sell, but that doesn't mean they don't contain toxic solvents. They just contain smaller quantities of them. People who are respiratorially sensitive or pregnant should still stay out of the property during the coating process.
    3. Waterborne finishes clean up with water; don't use paint thinner, turpentine or alcohol.
    4. Waterborne finishes are more weather-sensitive than solvent finishes. You'll find that waterbased finishes will take longer to dry in humid weather, but set up with disturbing speed on those hot, dry windy days.
    5. Don't let your waterborne finish freeze! Once it freezes, it's ruined.