Ultimate Finish Showdown: Lacquered vs. Oiled Wooden Floors

Oiled or lacquered? Both oil and lacquer finished floors have their advantages. Really all you should consider is the look you want, after all, you will see it and live on it every day. 

Lacquered Finishes

loft bedroom with linoleum flooring

Lacquered or varnished floors have a smoother, shinier look and feel. Matte lacquered is less shiny but still has the same smooth feel Lacquered floors (including matte lacquered) need very little maintenance; you simply sweep or vacuum and then very slight damp mop with eco-friendly floor cleaner. This type of finish does scratch a little easier than oiled floors and scratches are also slightly more visible.

You can considerably reduce scratching your lacquered or oiled floor by applying floor protectors to all your furniture; make use of area rugs, use doormats and if possible remove your shoes. You cannot fix scratches “locally” as you can with oiled floors. However, these days lacquered floors are getting tougher and tougher to scratch with ever stronger more advanced materials and application techniques.

Oiled Finishes

half living room covered with carpet

The first question to ask if you are buying an oiled floor is if the floor is UV Oiled or Natural Oiled.

The main difference between a UV Oiled and Natural Oiled floor is that the UV Oiled floor is dried in the factory with UV lights. This speeds up the drying process and also means the floor does not need another coat of oil once it is installed. A Natural Oiled floor must be treated again with another coat of oil as soon as it is installed.

Just like Lacquered floors you cannot apply another coat of oil to a UV Oiled floor as it will not bond together or penetrate the floor. It is a misconception that lacquered and matte lacquered floors protect floors better. The truth is oiled floors can offer an equally protective layer (in terms of wine spillages etc).

Unlike lacquer finishes which only provide protection from above, oil finishes provide protection from both the inside and outside. The oil penetrates deeply into the wood flooring providing long-term protection while also leaving a protective layer on the surface to protect the floor. Scratches on your floor tend to be less visible on oiled floor. The cleaning and maintenance is easy. For daily or regular cleaning

bedroom with light colour carpet

Natural Oiled floors do require more maintenance; once installed it is recommended that another coat of oil is immediately applied. Heavy scratches and scuffs can be lightly sanded and a natural oil can be applied over the affected area. When it comes to maintenance, Natural Oiled wood floors do require oiling from time to time. Typically once a year will do. Depending on the condition of the floor and how it is cared for you may only need to apply the oil every 5 years! This process of reapplying the oil ensures that scratches and marks will fade or disappear, the floor looks fresher, newer, and cleaner, and most importantly the oil penetrates the wood strengthening and enriching it, giving character and longevity.