At one time penetrating oil systems were one of the most common wood floor finish options. When polyurethane (both oil-based and water-based versions) came onto the market, penetrating oil took a backseat. Now penetrating oil like WOCA is becoming more fashionable.
Read on below to find out the advantages to this finish system.
The key difference between penetrating oil and polyurethane is how the finish interacts with the hardwood floor. Polyurethane finish systems are applied on top of a wood floor. This creates a “wear layer” that people, pets, and furniture stand on top of. The penetrating oil actually incorporates itself into the wood. Certain penetrating oils contain hardening agents in the oil. This creates a finish system that soaks into the wood and hardens.
After polyurethane finish systems are applied they will experience wear and tear and inevitably need a reacoating or even a full refinishing. With a penetrating oil system there is usually never a refinish, floors are simply cleaned and re-oiled. However, the penetrating oil may need more frequent maintenance and care depending on the location of the application.
Hardwood floors are meant to be walked on. No matter what system is in use it will eventually need to be repaired in some capacity. With polyurethane finishes that process of recoating or refinishing can be time consuming and expensive, because the entire floor is likely re-coated if a repair is required. With penetrating oils most hardwood floor repairs simply require an application of a cleaning solution and simply re-oil the problem area.
Aesthetically, many people find that penetrating oils offer the most natural look for hardwood floors. This is because the oil becomes part of the wood itself. Penetrating oils also avoid the “plasticky” look of polyurethane finishes. The oils also are one of the best options for low-sheen finish systems. Polyurethane finishes can come in options like satin or matte, but ultimately they will still have that “plasticky” sheen quality to them. Penetrating oils like WOCA really allow the warm, insulating effect of wood to come through. The wood floor finished in this style system feels warmer under foot.
Many hardwood floor professionals are fond of the easy application for penetrating oil systems. With polyurethane there is concern about lap lines, feathering, and streaking in an application that can result in a poor looking finish. Penetrating oil is much more forgiving. Many penetrating oil systems simply require the oil to be applied with either a lambswool brush or roller and buffed into the wood. Penetrating oils do take a bit of a longer time to cure.