Oil or varnish? Eco Oak Blog

Choosing the ideal finish for your floor can be a difficult exercise if you are not familiar with the choices available. Let us break down the various options to help you make a more informed decision.

What you need to know about oiled floors:

Very much like the good old days when you bought your cricket bat and had to oil it with linseed oil to give it protection from the elements, wear & tear, water etc. one does the same on timber floor.

Oiled flooring requires daily maintenance, especially during the early stages when your floor is new. It is important that the correct cleaning products are used together with applicators that apply the cleaning solutions evenly across the entire floor area.

Oiled floors are great because they don’t crack, peel or flake. When they do start looking tired, they maintain their look. They are also easy to patch repair, for example, say you have a small area of damage or a small stain, all you have to do is clean the area with a suitable cleaner, apply a nice thin coat and you’re as good as new

Cleaning your oiled floors:

Do not use bleach or steam cleaner on any oiled floor surface. For general cleaning we advise using products from the Bona or Loba – their soap cleaners must be used along with their oil care maintenance products. Please ensure you read the instruction guides to ensure you mix the products with the correct ratios and application processes.

How do you know when your oiled floor needs a re-oiling?

You can identify if the floor needs re-oiling by the following factors:

  • Timber feels or looks dry/grain feels more noticeable
  • Floor easily gets dirty and goes dark
  • Floor starts showing signs of wear
  • Surface scratches appear more easily


Eco Oak on Oil (Our Tip)

If you’re prepared to look after your floor and prefer a softer more natural feel under foot then oiling is the only answer. Be sure to ask your installer to provide full cleaning and purchasing instructions. If you need any assistance feel free to get in touch with us.

What you need to know about a varnished floor:

Varnishes require less maintenance than oils and arguably more durable, however it is more than likely that one needs to re-sand the entire floor when it does eventually get damaged and wears through the layers.

The life of a varnished floor is typically between 5-10 years however it does depend on what varnish you use. Two-part varnished with a catalyst (Hardner) will add more resistance and will give a better floor finish than the entry-level residential grade products. There is also a choice between a polyurethane and water-based varnish. Polyurethane has more of a yellow/orange tint providing a vintage look. The water-based varnish is clear with a natural finish.

The question you need to ask yourself is, how busy does your household get? A busy household with dogs, kids toys, etc. most certainly require the stronger finishes like a varnish.

How do you know when your varnished floor needs a re-varnish:

You can identify if the floor needs re-varnish by the following factors:

  • Wear and tear starts appearing in high traffic areas
  • Legs from chairs start scratching


Cleaning your varnished floor:

For optimum maintenance sweep your floor everyday before applying any cleaning solution. Cleaning solutions can be purchased from your local hardware store or flooring specialist.

Eco Oak on Varnish (Our Tip):

If you don’t have the time and resources to dedicate towards looking after an oiled floor, varnish would be the better bet. Restaurants and high traffic premises will be more suited for a commercial grade varnish.

Choosing an oil or varnish finish depends on two things: the look & feel and your lifestyle. If you’re looking for a natural appearance and you are willing to dedicate time towards regular maintenance you will reap the benefits of a warm and premium look & feel. If you’re more concerned with a durable and easy to clean surface, a varnished floor will be more suited to your needs. But ultimately, seeing is believing when choosing a finish for your floor. At Eco Oak, we’ll be able to provide you with the necessary sampling and knowledge in order for you to make an informed decision that you’ll be happy with for years to come.

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