Oil, Lacquer, or Matt: Choosing the Right Timber Floor Finish

You really need to finish your wood floor when it is newly laid or freshly sanded. Doing so acts as a barrier against dirt, moisture, and everything else that comes in contact with your floor. Of course, there isn’t only one type of finish, so you’ll need to devote some time to choosing the best one.

Finishes break down into oil, lacquer, and matt, so here’s a quick overview of each type.

Oiled Finishes

Because its molecules are so small, oil is able to penetrate down into the timber rather than simply sitting on top of it.  As such, it forms a very strong barrier that expertly protects the look and feel of your timber flooring. The grain structure is accentuated, and smaller scratches and stains can be retouched without having to re-oil the whole floor. As such, oil finishes are a good option if you have pets, whose paws tend to cause little scratches.

Lacquered Finishes

A lacquered finish is quite easy to spot, especially if seen next to oil or matt. It’s very shiny, and you’ll find it quite smooth to the touch if you pass your hand across it. Like oil, lacquer provides excellent scratch resistance. The problem is that spot-repairs aren’t very easy to make. If a scratch is made, you’ll probably need to have the entire floor sanded down and refinished. If a pristine appearance is important and durability not such an issue, lacquer is a good call.

Matt Finishes

Matt is actually a type of lacquer, but it comes with enough characteristics of its own to make it worth considering in its own right. The floor will be just as hardwearing and scratch resistant, and it’s a very easy finish to clean, though spot-repair will still be problematic. The main difference is that your floor will have a dull satiny sheen, so it looks more like an oil finish than a lacquer finish. Put simply, matt lacquer combines the benefits of traditional lacquer with those of an oil finish.


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