Oil finish hardwood flooring has taken the United States market by storm in 2016 and shows no signs of slowing down in 2017 and beyond. Here are some of the most common questions we have regarding oil finished trends:

  • Is oil finish as durable as traditional factory urethane finishes with aluminum oxide?
  • Will this finish evaporate over time and will this be harmful to indoor air quality?
  • Does this type of finish require additional maintenance which I am not familiar with?

Vintage Ebony Wood FloorsWhen it comes to durability, oil finish flooring tackles the issue with a completely different method. The penetrating oil serves as protection from moisture and wears while allowing the user to feel the wood grains in their bare feet. If compared directly to factory finished aluminum oxide finish, the oil finish flooring will not perform as well to abrasion and impact. However, the beauty of this finish is the fact that it will camouflage any scratches which will inevitably accumulate over time.

“We have oil rubbed Brazilian cherry in our family room - 2 kids (boys 8 & 10) and a 75-pound dog. Our major draw to them is that they hide scratches better. There is no interruption in the sheen as with poly where the scratches stand out because they are dull and seem to be magnified by the shine of the floor.” –Autumn.4 Home Owner

Another concern for oil finished floors its effect on indoor air quality. For on-site applications, some varieties suggest several coats which typically require the residents to be out of the home due to mild odors. However, there is factory finished UV-cured or single coat applications which lessen the downtime. Despite the odors produced during the drying process, oil finish floors rank amongst the lowest for VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions. Certain brands even boast true zero VOC. This fact alone makes oil finished floors one of the best options for green building solutions.

“WOCA products are certified by independent laboratories, the German Institute for Biological Building Materials, and are in accordance with DIN–Norm 53–160. WOCA WoodCare Denmark products meet or exceed the most stringent U.S. standards for volatile organic compounds.” –WOCA Oil Finish Manufacture

The traditional European methods of hard wax oil and natural oiled floors require a thin final coat of oil to be applied after the flooring is installed. To speed up the process, some oil finish manufactures have started adding UV light cured oil finish floors to their lineup. Similar to factory finished urethane floors, the UV lighting creates fast drying top coat layer out of oiled floors making UV-oiled floors ready to use as soon as installed.

For weekly cleaning, oiled floors use a special cleaner which contains an oil and soap mixture. After a period of 12-18 months, some oil may evaporate causing the wood grains to appear dry. An additional layer of oil can be reapplied to keep the floor looking fresh. Although oil finished floors require more involvement in periodic maintenance in high traffic areas, this maintenance can be done much easier than the equivalent of an onsite sand and refinish.

“As wood floors age, high traffic areas tend to wear more than non-high traffic areas. DuChateau® Maintenance Oil may be applied to the high traffic areas only without having to re-coat the entire floor. However, the entire floor should be maintained annually. Regular application of the Maintenance Oil will provide longer-lasting protection and help to keep your floors looking beautiful for many years to come.” DuChateau Hardwax Oil Floor Manufacture

Hopefully, this article is able to offer some insight regarding the durability, sustainability, and maintenance of oil finished hardwood floors. With an increasing number of oil finished floors being used in new homes and commercial applications, perhaps you will consider this for your next flooring project. Check out some additional photos of oil finished floors approved by Unique Wood Floors.