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Oil Finish Hardwood? What is it? The new Trend

Oil finished hardwood flooring has taken the US market by storm in 2015. The market is showing no signs of slowing down in the near future. The most common questions we receive regarding this type of finished hardwood, which we will aim to answer in today’s article:

  • Is oil finish as durable as traditional factory urethane finishes with aluminum oxide?
  • Will this finish evaporate over time and will this be harmful for indoor air quality?
  • Does this type of finish require additional maintenance which I am not familiar with?
When it comes to durability, oil finish flooring tackles the issue with a completely different method. The penetrating oil serves as protection from moisture and wear 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 are 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.

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.

Credit: Unique HardwoodFloors