Hardwood floor wax and penetrating natural oils are proven and practical coatings for residential and commercial use. Already well-established in Europe, they are steadily gaining traction in the United States. Beautiful, durable, and good for the environment, these easy-to-apply floor finishes are a way of the future.
In this article, you’ll learn about hardwood floor wax and natural oil finish, the pros and cons, and how you apply them, so you can choose the best hardwood floor finish for your home or business.
Is there a Difference Between Wax and Oil?
Products in this category of floor finish have more similarities than differences. Hardwood floor wax and penetrating natural oils include a wide range of products that you buff into the surface of the wood.
The wax and oil finishes of today are blends of synthetics, natural oils, and waxes that penetrate the wood fibers. These products are similar but have different names based on their ingredients, such as hard wax oil, hardened penetrating oil, and natural penetrating oil.
Each product is uniquely made using different raw ingredients and processes, so no two products are exactly alike. But each one is applied (almost like waxing a car) and works as a stand-alone finish.
They’re available in single or 2-component formulas. A 2-component product has an isocyanate hardener that speeds up drying time while increasing durability. Single-component formulas take longer to dry and have less durability. Most formulas have two components because the hardening agent helps the coating hold up better over time.
Hardwood Floor Wax Paste
Hardwood floor wax (or wax paste) is no longer a practical solution for modern spaces. These outdated solvent waxes have strong odors from high-VOC content and require a rigorous commitment to maintainance once they’ve been applied.
Maintaining paste-waxed floors involves re-waxing every few months. The only time you paste wax a floor is to add an authentic touch to an historic property or because the wood floor already has this type of coating.
Most contractors are unfamiliar with the old-school process of applying paste wax because better coatings have long since emerged. Modern technology and processes that liquify the wax and combine it with other materials resulted in products that give the floor the natural look, feel, and beauty of traditional wax without any of the issues.
The Pros and Cons of Hardwood Floor Wax and Penetrating Natural Oils
Hardwood floor wax and penetrating natural oils are cost-effective and eco-friendly finishes that enhance the health and look of the wood while giving you excellent overall protection. With the lowest VOC content of any other type of finish, they’re also the safest and least toxic floor finish on the market.
Application takes less time, labor, and materials compared to a typical staining job, which requires twice the amount of labor and time. After sanding and water-popping the floor, you can buff in and out two coats and be done. And you don’t have to worry about leaving behind application marks or abrading in between coats.
The curing time varies, depending on the product and manufacturer. The quickest-drying product is fully cured within 24 hours.
Another major benefit of using a wax or penetrating natural oil finish is convenient spot-repair maintenance. You can quickly diminish scratches and signs of wear without any problem, touching up areas of your floor as needed with ease.
This means you can reapply the wax or oil product on specific sections of your floor to make it look brand new in little time. You can move furniture aside in the evening, rebuff, recoat, and rejuvenate sections of the floor as needed, then put everything back into place by morning. Many restaurant owners choose it for this very reason.
One extra benefit of wax and natural oils are the many color options available. You can customize your floor’s color for the perfect look. Take a look at Rubio color options and Pallmann Magic Oil color options.
Wax and Penetrating Natural Oil Vs Polyurethane
Floor wax and penetrating natural oils have two major disadvantages when compared to polyurethane finish. Polyurethane provides a plastic coating over the wood in a variety of sheens. With wax and natural oils, all your protection is absorbed into the wood fibers, so you’re limited to a matte or ultra matte sheen.
A second disadvantage of oil/wax is there’s less chemical resistance than polyurethane. For example, if you spill bleach on your waxed/oiled floor, you will likely be left with a dark mark on the surface. Even though you can repair it, you would have been able to simply wipe it off of a floor coated with poly, which has stronger chemical resistance.
When it comes to long-term durability, waxed/oiled flooring with proper maintenance and care will outlast polyurethane-coated floors. Floors coated with polyurethane show scratches, dings, and scuffs from use. The only thing you can do to eliminate these imperfections is to refinish the entire surface.
The more a polyurethane-coated floor is used, the more you’re going to see fine scratches show up in the plastic layer. With wax/oil, there’s nothing sitting on top of the wood that can be scratched, so you’ll never be dealing with permanent fine scratches caused by sliding furniture or small rocks caught in someone’s shoes, dragged unknowingly across the surface.
The key to maintaining your waxed or oiled floor is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and use the specific products that work in conjunction with the finish you use.
Applying Wax and Natural Oil is Easy
Application is similar to waxing a car. It’s simple enough that you can do it by hand, rubbing it in and wiping it off. If you have a larger space or want to finish the job quickly, you’re going to need a buffing machine.
Operating a buffer is like learning to ride a bike. The most important thing is to find the balancing point. Once you understand how the machine works, you’ll always be able to operate it effectively. A good way to practice a buffer is to rent one and try it in your garage until you feel confident enough to use it in your home.
Once you have the buffer down, you can complete the job quickly by applying the product to the floor with the buffer.
The best way to proceed is to work in small sections because the product will dry quickly.
NOTE: Sanding quality is extremely important because your sanding skill determines the final result. Any digs, chatter in the floor, or any other flaws will be obvious. For the most beautiful appearance, make sure your floors are professionally sanded.
Recommended Wax and Oil Products
We recommend Rubio Oil Plus 2C and Pallmann Magic Oil 2K for the best results.
Rubio Oil Plus 2C
Rubio Oil Plus 2C is a two-component, 0 VOC hard wax oil that’s 80% cured in 2 days and fully cured within 5. You can coat, color (55 different colors), and protect your floor in a single layer.
Pallmann Magic Oil 2K
Pallmann Magic Oil 2K is a 2-component hardened oil penetrating finish with very little wax. This hybrid of natural oils and wax is the fastest-drying formula of its kind.
Hardwood floor wax and penetrating natural oils are popular floor finishes overseas, and they’re growing in demand in the U.S. The low-VOC content is unmatched, making them the most eco-friendly finishes on the market today. Application is easy. And spot-repair maintenance means you can make your floors look brand new overnight. Bring out the natural aesthetic of the wood with a hard wax oil or natural oil and transform your space.