What is Hardwax Oil?

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

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! 🙂


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  1. I just wax my floors with howard feed and wax what should i use for the final coat. Someone told me to use the same brand CITRUS SHIELD PASTE. I have 2 dogs and i don’t want to get fade too quick need something to seal it. I don’t want to sand the floors. Thank you

  2. Hi, I want to buy some acacia wood to make resin cheese boards but it has already been coated with hard wax oil. Will sanding remove it?

  3. Hi Ben.
    I have made a cutting board from Tasmanian timbers and Bunnings recommended Interbuld Hardwax Oil as a food safe coating. It has dried for 36 hrs but has “sticky” patches all over it, was this a good idea or should I go back to square one and just use something like grapeseed oil?

    I would appreciate your comments.

  4. Hi Ben,
    My birch floor was finished with hard oil wax about 10-12 years ago and it is looking very worn. After some research I’ve decided to put down a polyurethane product. The floor has several areas that are pretty much impossible to sand, can I put a polyurethane product over hard oil wax without having it 100% bare and what type of product would you recommend for that? The hard oil has an Amber colour.
    Thank you

  5. I am going nuts from my newly finished kitchen counters getting black stains from less than 12 hrs of a wet pan sitting on them. They are white oak finished with: 1. Rubio monocoat pure, then 2. Osmo liquid wax cleaner, then: 3. Boos Mystery Oil (butcher block oil. I have no idea what to do with this mess I have created!

    thanks for any suggestions

  6. First off , I want to thank you Ben for the book. Second I think your great for helping people and giving your professional advice. I just got done watching your viedo on the mistakes people do when redoing floors 😳. Im taking my time with my floors. I have about 600 hundred square feet of oak to do. There is alot I learned from your book and videos WHAT NOT to do. Also not to run down and get the proudects they push in big rental store’s. Hope to see more videos thanks again Ben.

  7. I just had my floors refinished with magic oil hard wax and the finish looks uneven (immediately after the refinish). Is it possible to put an oil polyurethane directly on the hard wax or must it be sanded first? I definitely don’t like the look of the finish and it looks nothing like the images I came across on the internet.

    1. first of all, another coat of the magic oil might do the trick. But if you want to lay down poly, then the magic oil needs sanding off first

  8. I have hard waxed oil floors (duchateau) and they are ruined in the kitchen- what can I do to fix this? I know I can have them professionally cleaned and re-oiled but if I want a more permanent solution what can I do?

  9. Hi Ben, question for you. I have had termite damage in a few boards of my oak floor. I have replace them and found to be the oil modified polyurethane that I used on the fixed portions of the floor are not the same sheen as the rest of the floor. If I were to do a buff and coat on the balance of the floor to make it match can I get away with only doing one coat? The was installed 2 years ago.

    1. The question is, what do i consider oil. Americans refer to everything not waterbased as oil based. In the UK we call oil based polyurethane “solvent based’ polyurethane.

  10. oil based poly has been my go to for years..minwax duraseal has been my favorite, whats your thought on some of the new waterborne products? ive tried 2 different ones this week and had good luck with both..minwax and varathane..the minwax acted more like oil and actually changed the color a bit, where the varathane didnt seem to, but layed out really nice…Jim

  11. Thanks for showing me how to do the floors great video guys only thing is how can you tell difference between oil or varnish floor .
    Quality way you make it look so easy well done ….eddie

    1. Just the same way you would lacquering a lacquered floor. I just really recommend that you try to use oil on an oiled floor and lacquer on pretty much everything else. The reason is that although it can go down well and look fine, even for a long time, it doesn’t bond very well between the two different products.

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