Whether you opt for solid wood or engineered wood, there are many wood flooring finishes to choose from.
Unless a wood floor is labelled as unfinished, once a wood floor board has been treated and dried, it then goes through a finishing process to create a chosen look. This process can combine one or a combination of finishes to create the desired effect however, excluding those unfinished, a wood floor will generally be either coated with an oil or lacquer to add extra protection.
Here we will discuss some of the most popular wood flooring finishes available and what they mean.
An oiled finish accentuates the natural wood grain and provides a natural matt look which gains more character as it ages. Popular oils used are Klumpp, Osmo and Woca.
During the oiling process, the wood is coated in drying oil which soaks into the woods surface to act as a protector against spills and dirt and every day wear and tear.
If a wood is finished with a clear oil, the wood will be solid in its natural colour with so no matter how many times you sand it, the colour will remain the same. However, if a wood is finished with a coloured oil or stained and oiled you will loose this colour when you sand it. You can refinish the wood again by purchasing and laying a stain or by using a coloured oil.
Oiled floors are slightly less durable than a lacquered floor but they are much less susceptible to scratching (and if they do scratch, the scratches are much less noticeable). An oiled floor also requires slightly more maintenance, needing a top up of oil periodically. However, if the oil dries out or is damaged you can simply add more oil on top without needing to sand the floor as it will simply soak into the wood – it is much harder to repair damage on a lacquered floor.
BRUSHED / DEEP BRUSHED AND OILED
This method consists of removing the softer grains of the wood using a wire brush and then coating the wood with oil leaving a beautiful highly textured surface with a rustic, aged look. The grains of the wood are more prominent here which can even be felt underfoot when they have been deep brushed. By removing the softer grains it also makes the wood stronger and more hard-wearing.
When a wood is said to have been UV oiled, it has been exposed to high capacity UV lights which cures the oil quickly. This gives a slightly silky finish to the wood and can help to disguise any imperfections caused by wear and tear.
If you need to repair a UV oil finished floor you can wipe oil across it with a soft, dry cotton cloth.
An oiled floor is slightly less durable than a lacquered floor but is easier to repair when it has suffered wear and tear. A UV oiled floor combines the advantages of a lacquered floor and an oiled floor as well as adding extra protection from UV rays.
A lacquered finish provides a glossy, smooth look and feel to the wood floor. To achieve this finish a wood floor is usually coated numerous times with a high quality lacquer such as Treffert. A lot of woods are finished with a matt lacquer, this gives a more subdued shine to the floor.
Where an oil sinks into the woods surface, a lacquer sits on top of the wood adding more protection. However, although lacquers are low maintenance, they are more prone to scratching; they’re also much harder to repair any damage caused from wear and tear. Although lacquer can been worn away (e.g. in high traffic areas) or heavily scratched. The only way to repair the floor is by re-sanding the whole floor and re-finishing it.
If a wood is coated with a clear lacquer the wood will remain the the same colour no matter how many times you sand it.However, if a wood is finished with a coloured lacquer or stained and lacquered you will loose this colour when you sand it. You can refinish the wood again by purchasing and laying a stain or by using a coloured lacquer.
This notable finish can highlight the beauty of some woods, most predominantly, Mahogany as the light reflects beautifully off the wood and enhances its colour.
BRUSHED AND LACQUERED FLOORING
Similar to brushed and oiled, this method consists of removing the softer grains of the wood using a wire brush but this time coating the wood with lacquer. With only the toughest grains and knots left, this finish is fully of character with a slightly smooth but textured surface which can be felt underfoot. The Lacquer here provides a slight sheen to the wood, which reflects the light. This sheen combined with the brushed grain helps to hide any scratches made on the floor! Plus, you also get the added durability from the lacquered finish.
If a wood is UV lacquered, the lacquer will have been exposed to high capacity UV lights. This gives the wood added protection and a slightly silky finish to the wood – even if a matt lacquer has been used. This finish helps to mask blemishes caused by wear and tear and will help protect the wood from sunlight. It also gives the wood a lovely autumnal look.
Handscraped wood has a slightly bumpy, distressed look to it. This is achieved by either manually running a curved tool down the plank (making each plank individual and unique) or by putting the wood through a machine which carves the curve into the wood. This finish is popular among those who are looking for an aged/worn looking floor.
Handscraped wood flooring comes in a range of colours, wood species and finishes. The slightly bumpy surface helps to deflect light and mask any scratches made on the floor.
A whitewashed wooden floor has been brushed over with a semi opaque white stain. This stylish finish adds a lightness to the wood and accentuates the grain. This subsequently lets the natural colour or stain of the wood come through.
A smoked or fumed wood floor has been put in a kiln (or enclosed environment). It’s then exposed to a small amount of ammonia fumes for treatment, and kept there for around 20 days. During this process, the wood suffers heavy shrinkage making it denser and much more hard wearing. As the wood reacts to the ammonia, this finish develops the darker colours (tannins) in the wood and brings them to the surface. It also infuses the colour throughout the boards – so no matter how many times you sand it, the rich colour will remain. The longer the wood is surrounded by the ammonia fumes the more intense and darker the wood comes out. The temperature of the environment also affects the colour tone of the wood. A smoked/fumed wood varies from a golden with rich dark tones, deep brown or virtually black.
Colour is often added to a wooden floor to cater for customer requirements. This can be done in different ways. The top of a wooden floor can be stained or painted first using a brush or a cloth. It can then be finished with a lacquer or oil. Alternatively, a wood top can be finished with a coloured oil or lacquer. Sometimes a wood is stained or coloured in numerous layers with a mixture of colours or a singular colour. All colours are pre-mixed to ensure an even colouration of the wood.
When buying a coloured floor, the colour will only be applied to the top layer. However if the wood was smoked, the colour will be consistent throughout. This means that if you sand your flooring you will lose the added colour and return to its natural shade. Although there are a wide range of stains, oils and lacquers available, it can be difficult to replicate existing shades.
An unfinished wooden floor has only been treated and dried. It’s still void of any colours, oils or lacquers and comes in its raw form. It’s therefore ready for you to add your own touch, and finish it in any way you like.
Each of these wood flooring finishes can create a completely unique look. Now you know a little bit more about them, you can now make a more informed decision for you floor!