After a wood floor is installed, it needs to be protected in some manner. There are two basic ways to protect a hardwood floor: a penetrating finish or a surface finish. Surface finishes such as varnish and polyurethane sit on top of the wood and protect it by forming clear coat. Polyurethane is basically a clear plastic suspended in water or oil. The alternative is a penetrating oil. A finishing oil seeps into the pores of the wood. It fills the pores with waterproof oil; therefore, it protects against water damage, insects, and mildew. However, it doesn’t protect the surface as thoroughly. For that reason, polyurethane became the preferred solution. Oil has been making a comeback. Why?

The Authentic Look

When wood is protected with polyurethane, it is basically sealed against damage. A penetrating oil will not protect the surface quite so thoroughly. For many people, that is thought to be to the detriment of oil. However, if you are seeking an authentic look, oil is the way to go. Oil will protect against bugs and moisture, but it will allow the floor to pick up the natural patina of age. As you live on your floor, it will pick up dents and scratches. Obviously, you will want to prevent those dents and scratches as much as possible. Putting floor protectors under chair legs, clipping your dog’s claws, and sweeping often are three steps you can take to minimize scratches. However, scratches will be inevitable. Those scratches will add to the authentic look of the wood.

Rustic and distressed hardwood floors are very popular right now. If you want one that improves with time, oil could be the way to go.


When you want to repair and refinish a polyurethaned hardwood floor, you have to sand off the polyurethane first. That could be a time-consuming process. It also will take some wood with it. If you have an antique hardwood floor, or if you want to preserve the natural wear and tear on the floor, you might not want to sand it too many times. Oil will solve that problem. With an oiled floor, you can just reapply the oil as it wears down. Since you don’t have to sand it again, the floor will last longer. Oiled hardwood floor has been growing in popularity over time as homeowners begin to appreciate the rustic, antique look that develops over time.

Curious about oiled hardwood floors? Call Peninsula Hardwood Floors today. We are your San Mateo hardwood flooring experts!