What is Hardwax Oil? I do get asked this quite a lot. It is a relatively new product or concept so it does need explanation. Most people are familiar with Waxes, often associated with furniture, which you rub in to the surface of the wood. Most are also familiar with Oil, such as Danish oil, with which you brush or rag on and the oil soaks in. Neither of these finishes produce a strong hard wearing film on the surface.
Hardwax Oil is an oil based finish that soaks in, lightly colors the wood and forms a protective film on the surface of the wood. Its for the home owner that wants a more natural wood finish while also having some sort of protective layer on the surface.
My view: It’s a lacquer that smells different, takes longer to dry and isn’t as resilient as lacquer.
Sorry to the Hardwax Oil evangelists, but I don’t think it gives a more natural finish at all. Yes it looks different, but so does shellak, solvent and water-based lacquers. All of which can be bought with matt sheens just like hardwax oil.
With that being said, I do think that hardwax oiled floors can look stunning (as can other finishes). I have had many customers happy with a hardwax oil finish. But here’s my real beef with hardwax oil; it looks great the day after it’s done, but how good does it look after a few weeks or a few months? One of the commonly reported problems with hardwax oils is that in heavy traffic areas (read: door ways), the surface wears very quickly and can become much more heavily matted and scratched in those areas, fairly quickly. Whereas, a polyurethane lacquer will keep its sheen (or low level sheen, matt) for a very long time.
Also, liquid spills can soak in and permanently mark the floor. I see this all the time! Floors that have been hardwax oiled a few years ago have patches all over them, where someone has spilled something and it’s soaked in.
All this doesn’t mean to say you shouldn’t buy or use it. I just want people to know some of the drawbacks.
A lot of customers come to me pre-sold on the idea of hardwax oil. I don’t know who is selling them the idea or where they are getting their info. It seems they just hear the word natural and they just glaze over like nothing else matters. End of rant! 🙂