Oak flooring is known for its ability to withstand the test of time. But, you still have to protect oak flooring with the right product. Here’s an overview of some of oak flooring attributes and the most effective products to use on your beautiful oak flooring.
OAK FLOORING ATTRIBUTES
Oak colour will get richer as the years pass by, ensuring this type of wood flooring ages well, making it a popular choice for flooring. Red oak wood flooring boasts colours ranging from a warm amber with brown undertones to a light honey yellow with salmon tint. White oak varies from light to medium tan colours to medium brown, undergoing a medium degree of colour change as time evolves.
In addition to that, you will find that oak provides a very attractive grain. White oak possesses an open-grain structure while red oak’s grain pattern absorbs more stains, making it ideal for flooring. Oak flooring is available in a wide array of dimensions and grades, with four levels of the latter: Prime, Select, Natural and Rustic. Prime grades, for example, are cleaner cut while rustic grades have many knots and grade patterns.
You will also find that solid oak flooring is resistant to fungal and insect attacks, unsurprising considering that oak trees are often pest and disease proof. This will save you quite a bit of money on damage repair. Speaking of repair, oak’s durability makes it dependable given it has been used for centuries in the building trade and that it is extremely hard-wearing, compared to larch wood, for instance. It gives off an old, sophisticated and prestigious look and is available for all budgets due to increasing demand. A proper fit for anyone interested in wood flooring options.
WHY PROTECTING YOUR OAK FLOORING?
It is important, despite all these attributes, to protect your oak flooring at all costs. Finishing products help to prevent stains. Red and white oak floors, for example, absorb stains better than most. However, the way how each type absorbs those stains differs depending on how dense the earlywood or latewood of each species is.
There’s also the potential for discolouration caused by mould and other factors. Even though it is strong and enduring, protecting your oak flooring is essential so that you maximize its reliability and sturdiness as it ages.
TYPES OF FINISHING PRODUCTS TO PROTECTS YOUR OAK FLOORING
While this is an option, waxing is an old and out-of-date habit, providing little resistance along the way. Regular maintenance is needed given that wax does not offer a great amount of durability compared to varnish or oil. Plus, there’s the fact wax can stand out in the worst way on newer floors when applied.
You would have to apply wax in thin layers, with regular back and forth strokes, which can be an exhausting task. Furthermore, it is not ideal to use on raw planks. It requires a ‘wax and remove’ polisher with non-stop application. You’ll need mops, rags and lots of sandpaper to make it work, which might worsen the problem rather than fix it.
Many hardwood floors come with a polyurethane or urethane/acrylic topcoat which protects the wood, rendering wax an unnecessary option altogether.
Water-based varnish, though eye-catching and not possessing much of an odour, is hard to apply, so diligence is required when going with this option. Many water-based varnishes will give your floor a clean finish, using either a sheep’s wool or microfibre application tool. It can also enhance durability, as well as the wood grain and its natural colour, and has a long shelf life, up to 15 years, in fact. Varnish keeps oak aesthetically attractive while protecting its surface.
If you’re the environmentally-friendly type, varnish may not be your preferred option seeing that many varnishes are odorous and have volatile elements that affect air quality. Water-based and synthetic varnish can create fumes, which can cause health risks. So be forewarned.
The best and most ecological of your floor protecting options is natural oil. It enhances the natural appearance of oak and other types of wood. It is both strong, durable and makes the surface water repellent.
Oil penetrates wood fibres and reaches its core, offering deeper protection levels, and makes damage limitation easier as a result. It also enables the colour of the wood to deepen going forward and makes your floor look natural, giving it added sparkle and newness.
Though a higher level of maintenance is needed – brooms, vacuums, and damp cloths are necessary to clean dirt as often as possible - it’s worth the time and investment. It helps you avoid toxins and is both easier to apply and repair than vanish, making the job look more professional.
The best finishing product (that respects the environment) for oak flooring is certainly natural oil. Learn more about natural oil’s benefits in our eBook!