Are Bona Traffic and Bona Traffic HD the best hardwood floor finishes available? The Bona Company promotes its high-end products as the cream of the crop, and there is much to like about them, along with some concerns too. But is Bona Traffic worth the money? What about Traffic HD?
This Home Flooring Pros review of Bona floor finishes answers these questions, so you can decide whether to Bona-tize your hardwood floors. If you’re in a hurry and just want to find the best prices on Bona Traffic then click here.
Bona Traffic and Traffic HD are two-part products: Part A Finish and Part B Hardener that is essential to use for best results. Parts A and B are sold together and separately, so if you’re sold on Bona, make sure you get both.
Note also that these products don’t take the place of stains and sealers; they are applied as a top-coat finish once your floor has been stained and sealed. The recommended approach is to apply one coat of stain and one coat of sealer first. Bona claims its products will adhere to most floor stains and sealers when they are properly prepared.
Bona Traffic Review
Results are mostly very good or very bad with a just a few ratings in between. In one survey, Bona Traffic received 5-star ratings from 66% of more than 40 reviewers. They comment that the flooring looks gorgeous, has a tough layer of protection and remains resistant to scratches.
“We applied Bona Traffic two+ years ago in our open kitchen and living room area. It still looks like the day we put it on. No visible scratches, and we have a big dog and two teen boys!” Janice, Lincoln, NE
Interestingly, in the survey, Traffic received no 3 or 4 star votes. The remaining 34% were 1 and 2 stars. That’s a common distribution among all users. A good sample of the negative reviews is this one:
“Applied Bona Traffic semi-gloss a month ago. Now, it’s peeling. I have to pay to have the stuff removed, adding $1,000 to the job.” Marco, San Antoni
Let’s explore this product’s features and Bona Traffic pros and cons to determine causes for hit-or-miss results
Bona Traffic features:
- Commercial-grade floor finish suitable for residential use too
- Produced in semi-gloss, gloss and satin that is a UL-certified anti-slip finish
- According to the manufacturer, “Bona Traffic will adhere to most stains, sealers and finishes after proper preparation.”
What do we like and dislike about Bona Traffic?
Bona Traffic pros:
Mixing and application: For a two-part product, it is easy to mix and use. It dries to the touch in about 3 hours, though a wait of 72 hours before walking on it or placing furniture on it is recommended. The finish levels well, so marks from applicator pads, rollers and brushes disappear quickly. Tools clean up with water and mild detergent.
“This was easy to apply with an 18″ roller. Super smooth finish. No marks” San Jose DJ
Performance: Bona Traffic is very tough and resistant to scratches and general wear. The formula is clear when dry and resistant to yellowing.
Coverage: Expect 350-400 square feet of coverage per gallon. When determining how much you’ll need, keep in mind that Bona recommends two coats of Traffic.
Indoor Air Quality: Traffic is UL Greenguard-certified as a low-VOC (volatile organic compound) product and has similar certifications in Sweden and Germany.
In summary, these advantages are what you can expect when Bona Traffic is correctly applied to a properly prepared floor.
Bona Traffic cons:
Cost: The average cost for the finish and hardener is $115-$135 per gallon from various sellers. The Bona swivel-head T-bar applicator costs $30. Most pros use the roller and pad applicators they’re most comfortable with and get good results.
Shelf life: The product has a one-year shelf life if not opened. After opening and mixing, its pot life is just 4 hours.
Container size: It is only available in a 1-gallon size in the US and must be used quickly once mixed, so many customers end up with a sizable amount of floor finish that goes to waste.
Improper screening: Users must apply a screen to the bottle as Bona Traffic is poured, so unmixed solids will be filtered out. Some find that the screen doesn’t catch all the fine particles.
“I found several small white specks in the liquid as I was applying it. I got most of them out, but still found a few that are dried into the floor. Annoying.” Meagan, Jersey City, NJ
Flaking and peeling: Bona doesn’t exactly warn you that this might happen, but does say in the literature, “finish results may vary widely depending on the wood species, especially on oily and resinous Exotics.” That’s a red flag. Such woods are one reason for flaking and peeling. The other seems to be improper abrading (light sanding, roughing up) of the flooring before application that is necessary for good adhesion. In other words, user error, but its common enough that it must be mentioned among your potential results.
Can’t be touched up with standard polyurethane: Poly sealer can be spot-sanded to remove the scratches and coated with polyurethane for a nearly-invisible repair. While Bona Traffic and HD are polyurethanes, the formula is different enough that you can’t repair scratches in Bona Traffic with other polyurethane products. You could use this approach with fresh Traffic, but since it has a short shelf and pot life, you probably won’t have any left. At $100+ per gallon, that’s a pricey repair.
Bona Traffic HD Review
The ratings for Traffic HD are positive from about 80% of reviewers. Allen J. in Tampa voices compliments heard from many,
“Traffic HD semi-gloss really made our hardwood floors ‘pop’ and the surface doesn’t look scratched after 9 mos of people wearing shoes on it.”
Many of the features and pros/cons are similar to Traffic, so we’ll be briefer in the analysis.
Bona Traffic HD Features
- Commercial and residential use
- Extra matte, satin and semi-gloss sheens
- Can be used over most wood stains and sealers
Bona Traffic HD Pros
The HD (Heavy Duty) product shares many of the positives of standard Traffic finish. It goes on easy, dries quickly, offers 400+ square feet of coverage per gallon and is a certified low-VOC product safe for kids, the elderly, pets and everyone else.
The Extra Matte finish is very slip-resistant, though read the cons before selecting it.
Bona Traffic HD Cons
Like Traffic, it is expensive, comes in 1-gallon containers, has a short shelf/pot life and can’t be touched up with polyurethane. When applied to oily, resinous or improperly sanded floors, it can peel too.
Here are a couple more.
- Cloudiness in Extra Matte: Matte finishes are produced with additives that dull the finish. For too many users, the result is a cloudy appearance, especially darker woods.
- Extra Matte shows marks: Reviewer Miguel77 speaks for many unhappy users,
“We applied [Bona Traffic HD] extra matte finish on our floors, and we hate it. Every footprint and mop mark showed. Don’t use extra matte.”
- The good news is that light sanding and the application of satin or semi-gloss HD Traffic solves the issue.
Bona Traffic Compared to Bona Traffic HD
These products are more alike than different. Their features, pros and cons overlap significantly. Traffic is offered in a gloss. HD offers an extra matte finish not available in Traffic.
The underlying flooring must be prepared the same way. Here are the steps, according to Bona:
“1. Sand and prepare floor using accepted industry association methods. 2. For a stained floor, make your final cut with 80-100 grit paper, then multidisc with 80-120 grit paper. For an unstained floor, make your final cut with 80-120 grit paper, then multidisc with 120-150 grit paper. This burnishing will reduce the amount of grain raise. 3. Use a Tampico Brush on a buffer and vacuum thoroughly. 4. Tack with a dry Bona Microfiber Tacking Pad or cloth. 5. Apply Bona Finishing system [Traffic or Traffic HD].”
The primary difference between these products is that Bona Traffic HD produces a tougher finish. In the Traffic HD literature, Bona says it “significantly outperforms all urethane finishes, including Bona Traffic.”
Traffic HD also has a slightly lower 150 VOC score compared to Traffic’s 210 score.
Are Bona Traffic and Traffic HD Worth the Money?
Bona Traffic and Bona Traffic HD cost two to four times most water-based polyurethane products from MinWax, Varathane, General Finishes and similar products. In our opinion, the durability is better than average polyurethane, but does that warrant the much-higher cost? That would depend on your budget.
The other cost to consider is application. Bona promotes its Traffic finishes as professional products, that’s to say that they are produced mainly to be sold to and used by flooring installation professional and contractors.
There are more things that can go wrong when a product must be mixed and applied in a short time and therefore it makes sense to leave this type of finish to an experienced professional. So we don’t really recommend Bona Traffic or Traffic HD for DIY application unless you feel confident that you know what you are doing.
Read our post on How to Apply Polyurethane
If you’re hiring a flooring contractor, you will get the best results when the contractor uses the polyurethane product and tools they use every day. If your contractor’s go-to product is Traffic or Traffic HD, then you’ll probably be very happy with your floors. Make sure the contractor guarantees the finish. If the contractor prefers a more traditional polyurethane, our suggestion is to take the recommendation.
Q. How do you apply Bona Traffic?
A. Complete Bona application instructions can be found here
Q. How many coats of Bona Traffic do you need?
A. Bona recommends two coats of Bona Traffic or Traffic HD finish
Q. How long does Bona Traffic take to cure?
A. You should wait three hours between coats. You can walk sparingly on the floor after 8 hours and Bona Traffic cure time for full usage is 24 hours.