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Choosing Wood Floor Finishes: Enhance and Protect Your Flooring

Posted on July 12, 2023


Wood Floor Finishes: A Comprehensive Guide to Enhancing and Protecting Your Flooring

When it comes to preserving the beauty and longevity of your wood floors, the choice of finish is pivotal. Wood floor finishes not only enhance the natural grain and colour of the wood, but they also provide a protective layer against wear and tear. With a myriad of options available, choosing the right finish can seem overwhelming. In this guide, we will explore various wood floor finishes, their characteristics, and their application to help you make an informed decision.

Understanding the Importance of Wood Floor Finishes

Before diving into the various types of wood floor finishes, it’s essential to understand why finishes are critical.

  1. Aesthetic Enhancement: Finishes enrich the natural beauty of the wood, highlighting its colour and grain. Depending on the type of finish, it can impart a gloss or matte appearance, altering the overall aesthetic of the room.
  2. Protection: Finishes form a protective barrier on the surface of the wood, safeguarding it against physical damage and environmental factors such as moisture, UV rays, and stains.
  3. Maintenance: A well-finished floor is easier to clean and maintain, reducing the frequency and intensity of care needed.

Exploring Different Types of Wood Floor Finishes

There are various types of wood floor finishes, each with its own unique characteristics, pros, and cons.

Polyurethane Finishes

Polyurethane finishes are popular due to their high durability and resistance to wear and tear. There are two main types:

  1. Water-Based Polyurethane: It’s clear and doesn’t alter the colour of the wood. It dries quickly, has a low odour, and has lower Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions than its oil-based counterpart.
  2. Oil-Based Polyurethane: It adds a warm amber hue to the wood and has a longer drying time. It’s highly durable and water-resistant, but it has higher VOC emissions.

Natural Oil Finishes

Natural oil finishes penetrate the wood to provide protection and enrich the wood’s natural appearance.

  1. Tung Oil: Derived from the nuts of the Tung tree, this oil penetrates deeply into the wood and hardens upon exposure to air, providing a durable, water-resistant finish.
  2. Linseed Oil: Extracted from flax seeds, linseed oil also penetrates and hardens within the wood. However, it takes longer to dry than tung oil.

Wax Finishes

Wax finishes offer a low-sheen, natural look and feel. They are easy to apply and repair but require more frequent maintenance than other finishes. Wax finishes are often used over an oil finish to provide additional protection and lustre.

Acid-Cured Finishes

Also known as Swedish finishes, acid-cured finishes are extremely durable and resistant to wear and tear. They offer a high-gloss finish that beautifully enhances the wood grain. However, they have a strong odour and a longer drying time.

Aluminium Oxide Finishes

Aluminium oxide finishes are among the hardest and most durable finishes. They are usually applied at the factory to prefinished flooring and can last up to 25 years. However, they can be difficult to apply onsite and nearly impossible to touch up.

Penetrating Oil Sealers

Penetrating oil sealers are a type of oil finish that penetrates the wood and hardens to provide a natural, low-sheen finish. They enhance the wood’s grain and texture and are easier to repair than surface finishes, as you can spot-repair damaged areas.

Choosing the Right Wood Floor Finish

Several factors should influence your choice of wood floor finish:

  1. Aesthetic Preference: Consider the look you want to achieve. If you prefer a high-gloss, contemporary look, opt for polyurethane or acid-cured finishes. For a natural, rustic appearance, consider oil or wax finishes.
  2. Durability and Use: High-traffic areas require a durable finish like polyurethane or aluminium oxide. For lower-traffic areas, oil or wax finishes might suffice.
  3. Maintenance: Some finishes require more care than others. For example, wax finishes need regular reapplication, while polyurethane finishes can last for many years without needing to be reapplied.
  4. Environmental Considerations: If indoor air quality or environmental impact concerns you, consider using finishes with lower VOC emissions, like water-based polyurethane or natural oil finishes.
  5. Budget: The cost can vary greatly between finishes. While oil and wax finishes are usually more affordable, they require more regular maintenance. More durable finishes like polyurethane or aluminium oxide may have a higher upfront cost but could prove more cost-effective in the long run due to their longevity.

Conclusion: Embracing the Diversity of Wood Floor Finishes

A wood floor finish is the final touch that brings out the beauty of your floor and protects it from everyday wear and tear. With the plethora of options available, you can find a finish that suits your aesthetic preferences, durability needs, and budget. Remember, a well-chosen finish can ensure the longevity of your floor and keep it looking spectacular for years to come. Whether you’re restoring an old floor or installing a new one, take the time to explore the different wood floor finishes. Your floors will thank you!

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We provide virtually dust-free sanding with our continuous belt machinery with mobile extraction units, giving you a safer environment for your family.

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This organic finish not only adds beauty to your home but also has exceptional water-repellent characteristics, making it easier to clean and maintain.

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This natural floor finish offers the softest and most mellow appearance – and leaves your floor able to breath.

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Using soft buffing machines (and hand-polishing where required) will bring a wonderful sheen to your newly-finished floor.

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We offer a full assessment of your wooden floors to determine what repairs are needed to provide the perfect working surface for the later stages of sanding, staining and sealing. 

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