Whether choosing hardwax oil or traditional UV lacquer, today there are a wide range of options for engineered flooring painting from which customers can choose depending on their preferences and applications. Although traditional lacquered flooring still accounts for most of the global market share, hardwax oiled flooring has numerous advantages and benefits, such as being more breathable and environmentally friendly. It simply requires more promotion and education to increase both public awareness and consumer acceptance. If you are thinking about using hardwax oiled flooring, here are some things you should first know.
Hardwax Oil VS Traditional UV Lacquer
- 1. More Natural Ingredients
The main components of hardwax oil are natural wax (carnauba wax, candelilla wax, beeswax) and vegetable oil (linseed oil, perilla oil, castor oil, sunflower seed oil), as well as other functional additives and surfactants to shorten the drying time of the coating film and promote pigment dispersion. Don’t panic if you don’t understand all these technical terms, just know that most of these ingredients are natural extracts.
Traditional paints for flooring contain significantly more synthetic components. For example, the most common UV-curable polyurethane lacquer is composed of solvents, oligomers, photoinitiators and additives. The ratio of these synthetic components varies greatly according to different layers, finish appearance and coating properties.
- 2. Deeper Permeation
Due to the high solid content of greasy hardwax oil, it is usually applied on the wood surface through manual rubbing of 2 to 4 layers. The oil helps the wax dissolve and penetrate the wood through small pores on the surface, forming a complete coating film under the action of the drier activator. The wax penetrates the wood cells to leave the floor waterproof and wear resistant.
However, it takes a long time for the hardwax oil to dry into a film – generally 3 to 8 hours for surface drying and 8 to 15 hours to dry completely. Each layer needs to dry completely before applying the next.
Traditional UV lacquer is usually applied on the engineered flooring by roller for 5 to 13 layers. The polymer lacquer is evenly coated on the surface of the lamella substrate and rapidly cured into a film by the action of a photocatalyst. The water-based primer firmly bonds the film to the wood, enhancing the coat adhesion. The top layer makes the flooring wear resistant and glossy. The final result is that a multi-layer of solid polymer lacquer surface is formed on the floor.
- 3. More Realistic Feel
Only a very thin matte film will be formed on the wood surface after application of hardwax oil, making for an open texture effect. The thin oil coating does not conceal the natural texture and touch of the wood, resulting in a more desirable, natural aesthetic. Visually, the luxury of the flooring after being oiled is significantly enhanced, and the coldness is reduced. After coating with transparent hardwax oil, the floor color tends to be a red-yellow tone. Roughness is reduced and gloss is increased, but the overall effect is still matte to semi-matte.
With lacquered flooring, a polymer film coats the surface. According to the customer’s needs, the lacquered surface can be closed, semi-closed, glossy, matte and various colors. However, this lacquer film is thick and results in the flooring feeling more plastic than natural.
- 4. Weaker Abrasion Resistance
The vegetable oil in the hardwax oil polymerizes to form a thin film on the wood surface, which makes the flooring waterproof and anti-fouling. The flooring finish is also less likely to crack and peel off. However, the hardness and wear resistance of this surface are relatively poor, so things like furniture dragging on the floor can easily leave scratches on the oiled finish. The good thing, though, is that this damage can be easily repaired by patching and painting. By following recommended user’s care, oiled flooring can remain shiny as new.
A variety of fillers in the UV lacquer can effectively improve the hardness and wear resistance of engineered flooring, so lacquered flooring is suitable for most places – especially where more wear and tear may occur.
- 5. Greater Breathability
Hardwax oiled flooring can breathe more freely than lacquered flooring. Practically, this means that moisture can move freely in and out the wood and re-equilibrate with changes in indoor humidity, which significantly contributes to engineered flooring dimensional stability. Additionally, beneficial aromatic substances inside the wood can still be slowly released through hardwax oil finish, making it ideal for types of wood with aromatic scents, such as teak, cypress and pine.
Conversely, the dense polymer film on the surface of lacquered flooring inhibits surface water from penetrating the flooring. Thus daily mopping won’t cause deformation or delamination. The close finish also greatly postpones the formaldehyde inside the board from being released, which is one of the most common approaches to reduce formaldehyde emission. However, the accumulated water under the flooring can also cause quality problems.
- 6. More Environmentally Friendly
The hardwax oil consists mainly of natural ingredients. It releases a small amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when the solvent is drying, but this is harmless to humans. Therefore, it can be seen as an ideal coating for health and environmental protection.
The VOCs released from organic solvents (benzene, alcohols, ketones) in traditional UV lacquer can have severe adverse effects on human health. Also, colored lacquer can have a high content of heavy metals, which is also of much concern to health and the environment.
- 7. Higher Price
Due to the high price of the natural raw materials and additives in hardwax oil, as well as the labor cost for manual rubbing, the manufacturing cost of hardwax oiled flooring is a little higher than lacquered flooring. Per square meter, the price of oiled flooring is 1–4 USD higher than lacquered flooring. The specific prices vary slightly depending on the type of flooring base, wood wax oil brand, coating volume and other factors.
Hardwax Oil Painting Solution
In terms of veneer grade, clear or colored clear oil is highly recommended to highlight the wood grain of veneer; whereas dark-colored hardwax oil is more suitable for highly knotted wood. For species with color differences, this can be either embellished or made uniform with hardwax oil of a similar color.
Regarding lamella species, vessel pores are more obvious on ring-porous wood, such as oak, ash and elm. This flooring is rich in expression, and the various colors of hardwax oil will enhance the natural texture of wood. For diffuse-porous wood and semi-ring porous wood, such as black walnut, maple and cherry wood, the texture is more elegant and delicate; therefore, it is recommended to choose colorless hardwax oil to accentuate the beauty of this wood.
The current market share of hardwax oiled flooring is still relatively small. But a deeper understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of oiled flooring can help you make a more educated choice when purchasing engineered flooring. We believe hardwax oiled flooring will satisfy your unique taste.