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The Ultimate Guide to Wood Floor Finishes


When it comes to designing a unique, custom wooden floor for your home or office, without breaking the bank with exotic wood species and complex floor treatments, wood floor finishes can be the way to go. However, wood floor finishes are much more than simply adding aesthetics and a unique look to your favourite wooden floor. They ensure the preservation of wood’s natural colour and texture, they ensure long-lasting and hard-wearing protection, the create an invisible protective barrier on top of your floor and penetrate through wood’s texture to make the whole flooring construction stronger and more durable. Wood floor finishes are the reason why hardwood floors last for decades and decades, they make wood floors easy-to-maintain and keep clean. As you can see, the choice of a wood floor finish can be as important as the type of floor and wood species in general. All these three components form a final choice you will be either happy with or regret for a long time. However, a wood floor tends to be a big investment, therefore we want to help you make an informed decision you will not regret. Providing you with guidelines on how to choose the right wood floor finish is part of the package. At the end of the day, all wood floor finishes are different, they can have their pros and cons, and some of them will be a more beneficial choice for your household or work environment than others, therefore here is your ultimate guide to wood floor finishes.

What Are the Different Types of Wood Floor Finishes? float: left

Your wood flooring dilemma is not limited by only choosing between oak or pine, engineered wood or solid wood. One of the most important and essential choices you will make about your newly installed wooden floor is what type of finish will perfectly meet your requirements and needs. By using different types of wood floor finishes you can easily transform every mundane wooden floor and turn it into the focal point of the room or office, a statement piece that attracts attention with its beauty. Also, there are hundreds of different methods for applying, transforming, and treating the finish in a way to get unique and one-of-a-kind results and appearance. From brushed, through UV oiled, to crosscut and wired finish, you can easily design and create a floor that perfectly matches the contemporary and minimalistic style of your cutting-edge modern office, or enjoy a floor that complements the welcoming and cosy atmosphere of your home with a hint of shabby chic, farmhouse style, or old-world charm. However, choosing the right finish for your wooden floor is not only a matter of style and appearance. By choosing the right wood floor finish for the needs and desires of your household or the work environment of your office, you can ensure extra durability for high traffic areas, hard-wearing power for households with young children and pets, easy-to-maintenance and clean nature for a time-saving cleaning routine, high gloss for a lot of elegance, or a matt and natural finish for camouflaging little imperfections such as fine scratches, etc. Picking the right wood floor finish is all about personal preference and requirements. However, to make the best choice and final decision, you should be aware of how beneficial every main type of finish can be.

Wood Floor Dyes

Wood floor dyes are not exactly assumed to be wood floor finishes, because they have an additional beneficial feature – they can completely transform the natural colour of the wood species or put an emphasis on it and complement it. With wood floor dyes you can completely unleash your creativity and imagination and achieve a very attractive and unique colour for your floor, a distinctive style and a unique design. Wood floor dyes are available in an oil-based and water-based formulas and you can choose between these two options depending on the individual needs of your household. No matter what type of dye finish you will choose, you can rest assured that dyes also ensure great protection for wood and long-lasting preservation.

Wood Floor Oils

Wood floor oil finishes are the newest and freshest generation of wood floor finishes, although oils have been around for a few decades already. However, the majority of people are just recently discovering and enjoying them. Wood floor oils are penetrative wood floor finishes, which means that they penetrate wood’s porous structure and ensure extra protection and strength not only on the surface of the floor, such as the more traditional lacquer and varnish but also from within. Wood floor oil finishes make the floor very durable and hard-wearing, lasting for decades. One of their major benefits includes the fact that oils look very natural when applied and they highlight and complement the natural colour and texture of wood. Keep in mind that dullness can happen over time with oils, therefore regular and proper maintenance is required. The best part is that maintaining oil wood floor finishes is very easy and effortless. Unlike varnish or lacquer, refreshing an oil-based finish does not necessarily require sanding. Instead, the process of re-oiling is created for saving time and money. Make sure to choose an oil finish with a UV filter added to it for wood floors that are often exposed to sunlight to prevent dullness and drying of wood.

Wood Floor Varnishes 

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Wood floor varnishes are a classic wood floor finish choice that has been around for a very long time. Varnishes are mainly chosen for wooden floors that are exposed to very high traffic and heavy footfall thanks to their extra protective power and amazing durability. Varnishes are very hard-wearing, very long-lasting, they create an extra-strong protective and preservation top layer. Varnishes do not affect the appearance or condition of bare wood in any shape or form. Varnishes contain natural resins, solvents and oils, usually vegetable oils. However, despite the pretty natural ingredients, varnishes are pretty heavy-duty finishes with a strong odour and slow-drying, therefore best results can be achieved only by an application service by experienced and knowledgeable wood floor renovation specialists for an even and uniform coverage. Once the varnish finish is applied properly, you will be able to enjoy a very high gloss finish with an attractive lustre that adds a lot of elegance and a touch of luxury to the wooden floor. Thanks to the fact that varnishes are transparent, they allow the natural colour and pattern of the wood to shine through the finish with its beauty.

Wood Floor Stains

Wood floor stains are very similar to wood floor dyes and they offer the same effect – changing of the colour of wood flooring. However, wood floor stains are usually available in darker shades. Wood floor stains can be used for either changing the natural colour of wood completely or complementing and enhancing the natural shade and undertones. The main difference between wood floor stains and other finishing products is that stains do not offer additional protection and preservation. When applied, wood floor stain should be additionally finished with one type of the wood floor finishes of your choice, otherwise, it will get worn off pretty quickly.

Wood Floor Lacquers

Wood floor lacquers are solvent-based finishes that are a great option for both domestic and commercial settings. Wood floor lacquers are usually applied by spraying the surface of the wooden floor. They are a very practical, fast-drying choice that is hard-wearing, durable, and long-lasting enough. Wood floor lacquers are available in several different effects, anything from very high gloss, through subtle satin, to matt. All different finish effects can be used for achieving different styles and complementing different interior designs. Wood floor lacquers are penetrating finishes that penetrate wood’s structure and add protection and strength from within, however, still allowing the natural texture and pattern of the wood to shine through.

Water-based Wood Floor Finishes

In case you want a very natural-looking, simple, even organic-looking wooden floor, water-based finishes are the way to go. Water-based wood floor finishes are clean, bright, with little to none odour, ensure a natural-looking wooden flooring, fast-drying. This type of wood floor finishes creates a thin top layer that doesn’t affect the look of the bare wood. In result, the wooden floor has a slight shine or lustre, with enough additional protection to last several years.

French Polish

Using a French polish is a classic and very common technique for finishing hardwood floors that use a combination of alcohol and shellac. By using French polish, the floor becomes very glossy, shiny, and elegant. French polish is very attractive and creates distinctive and unique floors with great protection. French polish finishes are a great way to create a very luxurious, expensive-looking hardwood floor.






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