Today's fashion for finishing oak floors is to either use Varnish or Hardwax Oils. Varnishes (called Seals) in general offer more protection than Oils (it really depends on the Varnish and the Oil chosen though) and if left to wear out, varnishes will require re-sanding and sealing. Hardwax Oils (as long as the wood itself is not too badly damaged) can be cleaned and re-oiled.
Choosing the best finish for your oak floor
The decision on type of finish depends on lifestyle. Oak is a ring porous timber, meaning that the large early wood pores are prone to collect dirt and/or may darken due to a reaction between the tannin in the oak and moisture from any source including water based cleaners. We usually recommend the use of a seal for oak floors in Bathrooms and Kitchens.
Not all varnishes are of the same quality and there are some quite poor ones around that don't wear well or can leave brush marks in the surface. The varnishes mentioned here are all easy to use professional finishes. For a low colour change (ie to keep the wood lighter) use Finney's Trade Acrylic Varnish available in matt or satin. This is a special modified acrylic offering plenty of protection without really altering the colour of the wood. Standard Acrylic finishes will usually wear quite quickly.
As an alternative, maximum protection is achieved using Finney's Extra Tough Floor Varnish. There is a waxed version too (Extra Tough Varnish - Waxed Finish) that can be used on top of the standard formula to create a silkier feel more like the appearance of an oil if this is preferred. This product will darken the wood a little more than the Acrylic.
For full colour enhancement (wet look of the wood and a more golden tone) it is best to use Durapolish Clear Glaze.
Hardwax Oils naturally darken the wood and are popular as they penetrate into the wood. If you use an oil that has white added into it to reduce this effect (given names like Raw or Natural) take care on Oak as the open grain can absorb the white leaving a whitened effect in the figure of the wood spoiling the appearance. Also bear in mind that it is usual to apply a clear coat on top so there will still be some yellowing take place and reduced protection/ease of maintenance when the "white" starts to show sighs of wear.
As with varnishes, not all oils are of equal quality. The four mentioned here are are excellent flooring oils for oak. Choice depends on sheen and drying times.
Please contact us for specific benefits if you are not sure which one to choose.
If you would like to stain an oak floor it is essential that the stain used is compatible with the finish. We do not recommend ready coloured finishes as these can wear unevenly, making them difficult to maintain. Please ring us or email for specific advice.