hardwood finishes

Flooring Finishes Explained

Real wood flooring is a timeless product that has been popular throughout multiple centuries. But why is wood such a popular option in the current generation where manufacturers have invested time and money into creating brand new flooring options. Wood flooring is a huge part of interior design and new manufacturing techniques have allowed products such as engineered wood flooring to be created, which has allowed wood flooring to become more affordable. There is a large variation of flooring finishes and species available, which can often lead to consumers becoming confused. Therefore, it is important to understand the different flooring finishes available.

Every wood floor will have either a lacquered finish or an oiled finish. Let’s start with a lacquered finish.

A lacquer is applied to the surface of wood flooring and sits on top of the boards. Usually this process is repeated up to 7 times to create an extremely durable surface layer. The flooring is now protected; however, a lacquer can scratch easily and therefore would not be advised if you have a pet. However, if you are prone to staining your floor then a lacquer is a great choice as any liquid spillage that is wiped up immediately should not damage your floor. If you do ever damage your lacquered floor and you need to refinish the floor, then the downside is that you will have to sand and refinish your entire floor as you cannot just sand one area.

Whereas a lacquer sits on top of the board, an oiled finish will seep into the board and strengthen the wood throughout. This creates a more natural feel as a lacquer can feel shiny and artificial. An oiled floor may scratch and stain easier, however if you mark any of the boards then you are able to sand and refinish just one specific area rather than worrying about the hassle of refinishing the entire floor.

Lacquers and oils are available in a variety of colors, however modern technology has allowed an invisible oil and invisible lacquer to be created. These products still maintain the same protection level; however, they are an invisible color which still allows the natural tones of the wood to shine through.

Another popular variation of the lacquered or oiled finish is adding a brushed effect. Traditionally the brushed effect was created by stroking a metal wired brush over the top of the boards to allow the texture of the grains to reach the surface of the boards. Now modern technology has created a machine that replicates the texture that was created using a wired brush. If you are wanting a natural appearance and texture then a brushed and oiled or brushed and lacquered finish is what you are looking for.

If you are wanting a specific shade or finish, then the best option is to purchase an unfinished product and separately order the stain and oil yourself. This will allow you to perfectly match specific tones of current furniture or flooring.

Here’s a video from Steve Ramsey explaining the basics of hardwood floor finishes:

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