European Oil Wood Finish
One of the most popular flooring trends is using European Oil or “natural oil” as a finish to hardwood flooring. Many owners and contractors of high-end homes are opting for this type of finish for the way it brings out the natural beauty of the wood species and for the added durability.
What is European Oil?
European oil is mostly composed of natural plant oils and waxes like sunflower oil, thistle oil and carnauba wax, to name a few. Using these natural ingredients provides an eco-friendly alternative to other types of finishes. It is also human friendly in that using natural oils has additional health benefits since it is low in VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds). VOC’s evaporate into the surrounding air and can be hazardous to people, animals, and the environment. If you have asthma or other respiratory issues, choosing a natural oil finish for your hardwood floor could be the best option for you.
How is European Oil different from other finishes?
- It is easy to maintain
European oil is not a finish that is simply coated on top of a floor – the oil penetrates the wood and bonds with the fibers on a molecular level, hardening to protect the wood inside and out. Since the oil becomes part of the wood itself, when an area needs to be “refinished” or touched up it can be done on that single area, which makes using European oil less labor-intensive and less expensive. Need a spot repair? No problem! Just reapply the oil, let it absorb for the recommended amount of time, then buff the excess oil off the floor. Other finishing types require the entire floor to be sanded down and refinished in most cases.
- It brings out the natural beauty of the wood
Many finishes leave a “wet” look to the floor which makes the final product darker. Some even create a glaring sheen and a plastic-like look. European oil, however, does not alter the appearance of the wood other than simply enhancing its natural beauty. It is also one of the best options if you are wanting a more rustic or vintage chic look, which has been one of the fastest growing flooring trends for the past few years.
Sometimes just looking “natural” isn’t enough, though. Some brands of European oil are made specifically to produce a “raw” look to the wood. What do we mean by raw? The wood ends up having a lighter color and a more matte, low-sheen finish – a.k.a. the planks look like they were freshly cut.
You can also find natural oil in a variety of tints if you want to customize the color of your wood while maintaining its natural look and feel. Using a tint eliminates the need for stain.
How does it feel underfoot?
While durability, eco-friendliness, and the look of the wood are important, the way it feels is also important. If you have walked on a hardwood floor for any amount of time, you might have noticed how cold and hard that floor can be – especially with flooring that has been finished with polyurethane. A hardwood floor that has been finished with European oil is allowed to breathe which creates a sense of warmth in the floor itself. Since the floor is not coated, but penetrated instead, the feel is what some have described as “velvety.” So using a natural oil finish not only looks nice, it feels nice as well.
How is it applied?
European oil is massaged into the hardwood floor and, depending on the brand, may only need one to two layers. Once cured, the wood is hardened from the inside out creating an extremely durable floor. Auten Wideplank Flooring technicians are skilled in applying and maintaining European oil finishes. The video below shows one of the techniques we use to massage the oil into the floor:
How long does it last?
There are many articles online that state you should refinish a floor finished with European oil or natural oil every two to three years. However, there are some brands who have created a more modern formula that can maintain its durability for 10-12 years. That’s longer than a lot of other urethane based finishes! Our hardwood specialists know which type is best for each species of wood and each project.
It can also last longer with proper cleaning and care. There are some things to remember when it comes to cleaning your European Oil finished hardwood floor. Check out our blog “Cleaning Natural Oil Finished Floors” for the details.
Is European Oil better than other flooring finishes?
Not necessarily. It really depends on what type of look and feel you want in your hardwood floor. There are pros and cons to every type of finish and it’s important to remember that floors were made to be walked on, so there is bound to be wear and tear eventually – no matter what type of finish you use.
If you are interested in weighing your options further, contact Auten Wideplank Flooring today to speak to a flooring specialist about what type of hardwood finish is best for your home.