In this post, we will take a closer look at what makes natural oil finishes so appealing and the advantages of using natural oil on your hardwood floors. Oil finishes have long been popular in Europe and are skyrocketing in popularity in the U.S.
Enhancing The Natural Beauty
One of the most noticeable qualities of natural oil is its ability to enhance the natural beauty of your wood. Instead of just sitting on top of the wood, forming a protective barrier, as urethanes do, natural oil will soak into the wood and bond at a molecular level. This makes the wood itself stronger and leaves the natural texture and color of the wood alone. It will develop a natural sheen or glow as the wood ages so the wood continues to look sharp and not acquire a dull or worn-out look.
A general concern that arises when discussing natural oils is the idea that a natural oil finish may leave the wood vulnerable to greater wear and tare. While it is true that the wear occurs directly to the wood versus a coating, natural oil finishes are a lot more resistant then the alternatives. Wear that occurs does not tend to upset the beauty of the floor as it would with a surface finish. It tends to blend in naturally with the original texture of the wood because there is no coating or surface layer to disrupt. If there is any significant damage to the finish, it can almost invariably be spot repaired relatively easily, which is a huge advantage over surface finishes. Oil finishes can be maintained time to time with ease, unlike urethane finishes which require a significant more amount of work to remove and be re-applied, a lot of the time completely replacing the flooring. With a properly maintained oil finish, you should never have to sand your floors. If ease of repairing your floors entices you then a natural oil finish is a great route to go. When scratches occur on oiled floors you can buff and blend them away very easily. Even with larger abrasions, one area of an oiled floor can be sanded down, re-stained, re-oiled, and soon after the oil dries it will blend nicely.
Safe For Your Family and Environment
Described as being “green,” oil finishes release fewer volatile organic compounds (V.O.C.s) than other finishes. They are very safe to apply and handle.
Many appreciate that most oil-sealed floors can be damp mopped, a nice feature in food service environments or homes where sticky messes are frequent. In general, you will need to use a special cleaner to mop your oil-finished floor, but mopping will not harm the finish and the special cleaner is designed to reinforce your floor.
For the most part, finishing your floor with an oil finish will not cost any more or less than a urethane finish. The downside is that you will need to “refinish” more frequently, but refinishing an oil finished floor is significantly less expensive than refinishing a floor with a polyurethane surface, so it is more cost effective.
Natural oil and hard wax oil finishes often come in a variety of tints, eliminating the need for a stain. The finish will tend to be a matte to satin. A glossy look can be achieved by applying wax, but it is not recommended since it negates some of the other benefits of using natural oil and reduces the natural look of the wood.
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