Why Choose An Oiled Wood Floor?

Posted on: December 15, 2015

Finish Difference
A natural oil finish cannot be compared with today’s more popular acrylic, polyurethane, and aluminum oxide finishes. These finishes protect the floor by forming a wear layer, in effect, a plastic film on the surface of the floor. They scratch and get dull over time and cannot be spot repaired. A costly recoating of the entire floor is necessary every so often for complete rejuvenation. An oil finish penetrates the wood fibers to harden them while not altering the natural beauty of the wood. With no visual film on the surface, oiled floors are distinguishable by their elegant patina. They are easy to care for and are repairable. An oiled floor never needs to be sanded – only regular applications of a maintenance oil are necessary to nourish the wood and bring the luster back.

Zero VOC vs. Low VOCs
Rejuvenating 325 sq. ft. of an oiled wood floor project will require approximately 1/5 of a liter of Woca Refresher maintenance oil, which will emit zero VOCs and leave you without that harsh chemical scent. A typical polyurethane floor will require three gallons of finish – one gallon for the sealer coat and two more gallons of the top wear layers. VOCs from polyurethane evaporate into your home at the rate of about 4 lbs. per gallon, which means that 3 gallons of polyurethane used to coat 325 sq. ft. equals 12 pounds of VOCs floating around in your home.

Bond and Strengthen vs. Surface Coatings
The natural oil used to finish Castle Combe oiled floors is not a surface coating but is designed to become part of the wood by penetrating, bonding with, and hardening the fibers of wood.

When wood is finished with natural oil, it may dent or scratch, but it can easily be repaired. To bring your Castle Combe floor back to a fresh state, first, lightly sand the desired area of the floor, and apply a coat of Woca Refresher maintenance oil. It is not necessary to treat the entire floor, only the affected area. Typically, only spot sanding on extreme wear marks and scratches would be necessary, and a total wall-to-wall sanding is normally avoided.

Repairing a floor coated with polyurethane or aluminum oxide is a much more laborious and disruptive process. Polyurethane is a plastic coating that sits on top of the wood, and acts as surface coating. The purpose of a surface coating is to protect the wood from wear and tear. However, a polyurethane floor will never look better then the day of the final finish application. Immediately, polyurethane finishes begin picking up small and large scratches – abrasions that defuse the light and pick up dirt – and quickly become visible from all angles. The end of the life of a polyurethane floor is not because it is worn out – it just becomes ugly. This process is accelerated when the floor is damaged by scratches that penetrate the surface coating and expose wood, which happens when dents penetrate the soft wood (NOTE: all wood is soft enough to dent and scratch). Unfortunately, all too often polyurethane floors must be maintained by sanding again and again, a costly, disruptive, and often messy process.

Recoating the entire floor is the recommended maintenance option for a floor finished with polyurethane or other synthetic surface coatings. When should this be done? It has to be a joint effort, as soon as you have a scar that penetrates the surface coating, or when the floor looks dirty after you wash the floor. This “dirty” look means there is an abundance of surface scratches holding dirt.

Living With vs. Living On
The vast majority of polyurethane customers live on their floors. They take off their shoes at the door, they have floor protectors under all furniture and care to have nothing foul left on the surface. A normal expectation of a polyurethane floor is that it is maintenance free. Homeowners with natural oil finished floors live with their floors. They seem to recognize that wood expands and contracts with the seasons. Some believe this movement is a sign the wood still thinks of itself as being a tree. Feeding wood natural oils supports the notion that you are living with your wood floor and, in turn, the wood responds to appropriate care that’s given.

Reparability vs. Durability
Wood is very durable on its own. Natural oils enhance the durable nature of wood and allow the floor to be easily repaired if damaged. While polyurethanes provide a durable barrier, this barrier also consumes a layer of wood each and every time it is applied. At best there are three to four sandings in a floor’s life before the floor must be replaced. Over time, repairability is more important than durability.

Maintenance Products
Flooring Solutions offers a complete line of maintenance products for Castle Combe oil finished floors, from cleaners for everyday maintenance to rejuvenating natural oils for extensive maintenance.

Compare Castle Combe’s Natural Oil Finish to a UV-Cured Urethane Finish

Finish Natural Oil Finish UV-Cured Urethane
Less time to maintain Yes No
Less expensive to maintain Yes No
Can be spot repaired without disrupting entire room Yes No
Plastic film on surface No Yes
Penetrates and nourishes wood Yes No
Provides natural visual Yes No
Enhances natural grain of wood Yes No
Wood develops patina Yes No
Appearance dulls over time No Yes
Looks better with time and use Yes No
Minimizes appearance of surface scratches Yes No
Refinishing creates excessive dust No Yes