Choosing Between Hard Wax Oil vs Polyurethane Coatings

Choosing Between Hard Wax Oil vs Polyurethane Coatings

Timber floors look fantastic, but they need a little bit of protection from things like spills, stains and UV rays.

There are lots of suitable products on the market these days. Paints, oils, varnishes and other coatings can all help protect timber from everyday wear and tear. Two of the most popular options are polyurethane and hard wax oil.

Both provide excellent protection and are suitable for DIY projects. But, these two products work very differently, so it’s important to understand the difference when making your selection.

What are Polyurethane Coatings?

Polyurethane coatings are one of the most common surface treatments for timber floors. Polyurethane is essentially a liquid coating that dries to form a thin layer of plastic that protects your floors from water, stains, dirt and scratches.

The major upside to polyurethane is that it’s tough. These types of coatings are highly resistant chemicals and acids that are often found in homes. Things like harsh soaps, wine, vinegar or citrus juice won’t affect a polyurethane coating, which means your floors will look better for longer.

The benefits of polyurethane-based timber coatings include:

  • Eco-friendly. Many polyurethane coatings are water-based and they emit very few volatile compounds.
  • Easy to apply. Polyurethane coatings can be applied similar to paint. This makes them easy to use and perfect for DIY projects.
  • Rapid drying time. Polyurethane dries much faster than traditional oils. Your floors will be ready to use within a matter of hours.
  • Multiple finishes available. Modern polyurethane coatings are available in your choice of matte or gloss finishes. This means you can choose a finish that suits your design aesthetic.
  • Highly durable. Everyday life can be tough on timber floors. Spills, stains and scratches can leave your floor looking dull. The durability of polyurethane means floors look good for years, reducing the need for regular maintenance.
  • Cost-effective. Compared to other products, polyurethane floor coatings are very affordable, so they’re perfect for DIY projects.

What is Hard Wax Oil?

Hard wax oil is a modern timber finish that’s manufactured from a combination of oils (typically linseed oil) and waxes (such as carnauba or beeswax). Unlike polyurethane which forms a protective layer on the surface, hard wax oil penetrates the timber and protects it from the inside.

Hard wax oils offer excellent protection without obscuring the natural beauty and grain of timber floors. This has made them a very popular choice in Europe, but these products are quickly gaining popularity around the world.

Using hard wax oil to protect timber floors provides a few key benefits:

  • Enhances the natural look of timber. Timber is one of the world’s most popular flooring materials. It looks fantastic and provides a sense of warmth that is hard to replicate. Hard wax oils enhance the natural appearance of timber, rather than obscuring it with a thin coating of plastic.
  • Straightforward application. Applying hard wax oil is straightforward and is suitable for anyone tackling a DIY project.
  • Good stain resistance. Oils and waxes provide good protection against water, spills, dirt and stains.
  • Eco-friendly. Hard wax oil is made of natural oil and wax products that have a low impact on the environment. While some products contain solvents, most hard wax oils offer zero or low VOCs, making them very eco-friendly.
  • Low maintenance. Hard wax oil coatings can last 5-7 years, and they typically don’t require sanding or refinishing.

Hard Wax Oil vs Polyurethane for Timber Floors

Hard wax oil and polyurethane coatings are two of the most popular products used to protect timber floors. But which is better? The answer depends on where you’re applying the coating, how you use your floors and furniture, and whether you’re tackling the project yourself.

  • Appearance. Hard wax oils enhance the natural appearance of timber, while polyurethane forms a protective layer on top of the wood. This comes down to personal preference, but polyurethane may offer more flexibility because it is available with matte or gloss finishes.
  • Ease of application. It’s typically easier to apply hard wax oils. Many products only require one or two coats, and it’s simple to get a uniform finish. Polyurethane coatings often require 2-3 coats, and it may be more difficult to achieve a high quality finish.
  • Durability. Polyurethane provides better protection against dirt, spills, stains and acids (such as wine or citrus juice). Hard wax oil is also highly durable, but it can be affected by things like spilled wine.
  • Repairability. Hard wax oil soaks into the timber. If an area becomes scratched or damaged, it can be repaired by reapplying oil and wiping away the excess. Damaged polyurethane requires more effort to repair, which may involve sanding and replacing the finish.
  • VOCs. Modern polyurethane and hard wax oils are both available with zero or low VOC options.

Tackle Your Next Project with Timber Coatings from Quicksand Supplies!

Timber floors and furniture are a great way to add warmth and colour to your home. While these features look fantastic, natural timber needs protection against the rough and tumble of everyday life. If you’re considering refinishing your floors or furniture, get in touch with Quicksand Supplies.

Quicksand Supplies provides protective coatings that are suitable for all interior and exterior timbers. Polyurethane and hard wax oils are two of our most popular options, and both are a good choice for a DIY project.

Choosing between the two can be a challenge, so you are welcome to contact our team if you’d like more information about our hard wax oil, polyurethane, floor varnish or wax floor cleaning products.

You can contact us online at any time, or browse our range to learn more about polyurethane and hard wax oil for timber floors!

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