what is the best floor varnish for wooden floors

Best Floor Varnish for Wooden Floors in the UK (2023 Reviews & Buying Guide)

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So, what is the best floor varnish for wooden floors? After extensive research and testing, we highly recommend the Ronseal Diamond Hard Floor Varnish. 

This varnish brings out the true beauty of your wooden floor while protecting it from all that life can throw, including scrapes, spills, chips and scuffs.

This combination of beauty and protection means that the Ronseal varnish wins our award for the best floor varnish for wooden floors in the UK.

Best Floor Varnish for Wooden Floors in the UK – 2023 Reviews (The UK’s Top 3)

Below are our top three wood floor varnishes for 2023, starting with our overall top pick from Ronseal:

Our Top Pick
1. Ronseal Diamond Hard Floor Varnish – Best Overall Varnish for Wooden Floors

1. Ronseal Diamond Hard Floor Varnish – Best Overall Varnish for Wooden Floors

  • Non-yellowing
  • Ready for a second coat in two hours
  • Covers up to 18 square metres
  • Low odour
  • Available in eight different colours
  • Suitable for unvarnished and previously varnished floors

As this brand’s famous catchphrase states, this product does what it says on the tin. 

I found this varnish to be super tough-wearing, and it also provides extensive coverage and is easy to apply.

Furthermore, I didn’t encounter any problems when cleaning the brush.

Another essential quality of this product is its quick-drying formula, so I was able to apply a second coat on the same day. Be aware that bubbles form when you first use this product, but these quickly disappear and leave the floor with a lovely finish.

Considering the ease of application, rapid drying qualities and beautiful, hard-wearing results, this is the best floor varnish for wooden floors in the UK.

Quick-dryingQuite thin and runny
It covers an extensive range
Easy to clean off the brush
Easy to apply

Best Budget Floor Varnish
2. Rustins Floor Varnish – Best Varnish for a Quick-Dry Finish

2. Rustins Floor Varnish – Best Varnish for a Quick-Dry Finish

  • Water-based and quick drying
  • Low odour, clear and non-yellowing
  • Resistant to water, alcohol, white spirit and other solvents
  • Available in gloss and satin finishes
  • Works on wood, MDF, concrete quarry tiles and unsealed terracotta
  • Size options: 1 litre, 2.5 litre and 5 litre

This product benefits from having a lower odour than the other varnishes we tested, and I also like that it’s non-toxic. 

However, the most significant benefit of this product is its fast drying time, which can be as little as 20 mins in a well-aired room. I used a sponge mop to apply this product and was amazed at how quickly it dried.

The only downside of this varnish is that it can be slippy once applied, especially on a non-porous floor, which means it’s not quite as suitable as the Ronseal varnish.

Looks greatIt can be slippy – not as ideal for stairs
Hard Wearing finish
Easy to clean off the brush

Also Great
3. Liberon – Best Varnish for Protection

3. Liberon – Best Varnish for Protection

  • Water-based and low VOC
  • Coverage: 1L = 10-12m²
  • Minimum 2 hours of drying time
  • 1L or 2.5L tins
  • Availabke in matt or satin

This Liberon product is an excellent floor varnish, and the Ronseal option only beats it because this varnish requires several coats. 

During testing, I found that this varnish offered superb protection to my wood floor, and due to its non-yellowing and quick-drying formula, it also helped to bring out the grain.

Furthermore, this satin sheen is an excellent option for households with kids because minor scuffs and scratches from dropped toys don’t appear.

Fantastic protectionRequires several coats
Maintains natural colouring of wood
Hard-wearing finish
It brings out the grain.

Best Floor Varnish for Wooden Floors in the UK – 2023 Comparison Table

NameRecoat TimeTin SizeCoverage Per LitrePrice RangeRating
Ronseal Diamond Hard Floor Varnish2 Hours2.5 Litres18 m2£££9/10
Rustin Floor Varnish2 Hours2.5 Litres‎10-12 m2£7/10
Liberon VWNCS1L2 Hours1 Litre10-12 m2££8/10

How to Choose the Best Floor Varnish for Wooden Floors in the UK?

varnishing floor wood using paintbrush

When choosing the best floor varnish for your wooden floors, keep the following points in mind:

Final Finish

Before purchasing a floor varnish, consider what finish you want to achieve. 

For example, you can achieve a matte finish, a satin finish (this is the most popular), or even a finish that leaves the floor colour unchanged. 

Other options include high gloss or varnishes that bring out the colour of your wood floor. 


Consider the volume of traffic that your varnished floor must handle. I.e. will the floor be regularly used by the whole family (kids can be very hard on wooden floors when dropping toys!), or will it be used sparingly? 

These questions will determine how hard-wearing your varnish needs to be.

Waterproofing/Water Resistance 

Whether or not you need a waterproof or water-resistant varnish depends on the floor’s location. 

If it’s in a room with more exposure to water, such as a kitchen or bathroom, then choosing a water-proof varnish is wise.

Conversely, a generally dry room such as a bedroom or living area is unlikely to need this extra protection. In this case, opt for a water-resistant option to protect the floor during cleaning and daily spills.


Price varies significantly across different types of floor varnish, and this cost variation depends on the varnishes’ finish, durability and water resistance qualities. Unsurprisingly, products that tick the most boxes cost you more. 

That said, it’s important to remember that an expensive product often works out cheaper if it has greater longevity and does not require regular reapplication.

Final Thoughts – Floor Varnish for Wooden Floors

paintbrush above varnishing paint can

After careful consideration, I firmly believe that the Ronseal Diamond Hard Floor Varnish is the best varnish on the UK market. 

I like how this product made my wood floor harder-wearing and brought out the grain to leave a beautiful finish. 

This product also benefits from being effortless to apply, easy to clean off brushes, and wide coverage.

If you want to sand your floors before varnishing, check out our cost guide to sanding floors.

FAQ: What Is the Best Floor Varnish for Wooden Floors?

What is the hardest wearing floor varnish?

While all three products reviewed here are hard-wearing, the Ronseal varnish was the most hard-wearing during testing.

Furthermore, we didn’t need to apply several coats to achieve this high level of durability.

What is the most popular finish for hardwood floors?

A satin finish is the most popular finish for hardwood floors in the UK. This finish benefits from being easy to clean, and it doesn’t show scuffs, spills or imperfections.

Is it better to oil or varnish wood?

Varnishing wood is better than using oil because varnish requires less maintenance than oil and is more durable. The lifespan of varnish is around 5-10 years, while an oil stain may only last 1-2 years before it requires reapplication.

How many coats of varnish do I need for hardwood floors?

Typically it will take 2-3 coats to varnish a hardwood floor if you use a brush cloth or pad. Always check the manufacturer’s recommendations before deciding how many coats to apply.