Penetrating oils embed into the wood fibers in your floor and offer protection against spills from liquids. A penetrating finish does not layer over the surface of the boards so the beauty of the wood grain is not obscured by finish resins.
A lot of people consider wood floors finished with oils and hardwax to be more “real” looking.
Below I have listed the pros and cons of each finish. In addition to this page, I have created a video that explains penetrating finishes in depth.
- Provide a natural, organic-looking floor without film build.
- Some products in this category offer a wide range of color options, including some that offer the ability to create multi-layered colors.
- Usually easy to do spot repairs (multi-layered colors are more difficult); high-traffic areas can usually be refreshed by adding more oil.
- Without a film build, the wood can adjust more readily to changes in relative humidity, helping reduce cupping and crowning.
- Due to low VOCs, some products appeal to customers with environmental and health concerns.
- Among the most expensive finishes.
- Require an excellent sanding job, as there is no finish build to help hide imperfections.
- Do not have the level of sheen and gloss offered by a surface finish.
- Most require maintenance comparable to that of a wax floor, with periodic re-oiling.
- Poor chemical resistance.
Penetrating finishes have their origins in Europe and are gaining popularity in the United States in the last five years.
From our experience, the key selling point to these finishes is the ease of serviceability and the durability.
Because there is no film above the wood floor, there is simply very little to scratch and scuff. Some people have concerns about how well this type of finish can protect wood floors.
Our customers around Sacramento, Folsom, etc…who have oil finishes have not complained about premature finish wear despite having household pets and children. In fact, we used this type of finish on Victory Velo in downtown Auburn, and the floors still look great even though customers ride bikes and wear cleats in the store.
If you have done your research regarding penetrating oils you may have heard about Rubio monocoat, which is a great finish. There are a lot of similar products on the market and we have used a number of them with great success. Ultimately, I can assure you regarding penetrating finishes that the maintenance is very simple and the durability is great.
It is ESSENTIAL that the floor is very well sanded and properly burnished to achieve the very best look for the finish.
If you have any questions about wood floor finishes, then I recommend you check out our blog. On the blog, we have more information and pictures about projects using this type of finish.