What are the different finishes for sanded wooden floors?

Just to be clear people often refer to staining after sanding, when what they often actually mean is applying a clear finish to protect the woods surface and not staining (changing the colour of the wood). Predominantly the most common types of wooden flooring we encounter for sanding are oak and pine – both woods take most finishes including stains well. Just about all other woods should be finished with a clear finish and not stained. Although any wood can be stained, in our experience woods that are stained other than oak or pine never look quite right and are better off in their natural state.

Anyway, there are 3 Main types of finishes for wooden floors. Hard wax oil, Lacquer and Oil, the main manufacturers we use are Osmo, Blanchon, Junkers and Bona and occasionally we will use Morrells for staining. And various other trade secret products where a certain look is required. Although these oils, Hard wax Oils and Lacquers are more expensive than most they are in our opinion the best.

Over recent years flooring products have improved significantly and assumptions some people make are simply not true. A lot of people will associate Lacquer for example with their old-school hall, being all shiny and requiring constant buffing to keep it looking nice when in fact most modern day lacquers are available in ultra matt finishes and to the un-trained eye can look like oil. Lacquer is essentially a protective layer that covers the surface of the floor. The shinier the finish the more artificial the floor will look almost to the point of being plastic looking.  The surface can be stained first if required before applying the lacquer. It is very important to note that the natural colour of the wood does affect the result of the colour of the stain when it’s applied.  It is usually better to have some test areas on the floor that has been sanded rather than supplying sample boards. For example, a 150-year-old pine floor will have a lot more colour than a 20-year-old newer looking pine floor. Subsequently, if you put the same stain on both floors they will look completely different.  Although lacquer is very tough, if it gets badly marked you cannot spot repair it. The surface will usually have to be stripped and the lacquer will be freshly applied all over again.

Hard wax oil is essentially an oil based product that soaks into the wood leaving a protective layer on the surface. There are literally hundreds of choices of colours with hard wax oil and they can be mixed to pretty much achieve any colour. The most common finish we use is Osmo polyx matt. We have used many different hard wax oils over the years and find Osmo to be the best. That said, Blanchon do a good range of coloured oils too. Although it isn’t as tough/durable as lacquer hard wax oil can be easily spot repaired and re-coated when it’s looking tired.

Like hard wax oil, straight oil looks very natural soaking into the wood floor and sometimes also forms a protective layer. Oil is generally not as hard wearing as hard wax oil but again can be spot repaired and over coated.

We carry a large stock of hard wax oils and lacquers and sell to private clients who prefer to do the work themselves.

If your floors are in need of sanding or you need any help / advice please do get in touch; give us a call today on 01962 733016, email info@alresfordinteriors.co.uk or visit our workshop based in Alresford.