The look of your hardwood floor is affected by a few different factors. One of the biggest factors is the wood itself. Furthermore, you can change the color of the wood with wood stain. The stain will penetrate into the wood and alter the color. A stain can be something as simple as a stain that deepens and enriches the natural colors. Alternately, the stain can turn your wood something as dramatic as black. The final factor in the wood’s look is the finish. The finish is a layer of protective sealant that goes over the surface of the wood. The most common hardwood flooring finish is polyurethane; however, new finishes are trending.
1- Oil Finishes
An oiled floor is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of finishing the floor with a protective layer of polyurethane, you will apply a layer of oil. The most common oils are tung oil and linseed oil; however, safflower, soy, hemp, and sunflower are also popular oils. The oil will soak into the wood and bond with the wood on a molecular level. The oil will help create a waterproof barrier in the wood, but it will not be on the surface. The oil will repel water, but the wood will still absorb moisture. It will absorb even more moisture if you are not vigilant about reapplying the oil finish.
2 – Low VOC Polyurethane
A volatile organic compound (VOC) is one that releases gases at room temperature. That means that when you are applying it, or even after it has dried, it will release vapors that could be harmful. They can be harmful to you, your pets, or to the environment. Fortunately, many different finishes have become available that do not utilize as many VOCs. These are low VOC polyurethanes. There are even some no-VOC polyurethanes available.
3 – Wax Finishes
If you want a finish that is no-VOC like oil but a little bit harder than oil, you can choose a wax finish. Carnauba and beeswax will penetrate the surface of the wood and work their way into the wood’s pores. You’ll need to reapply the wax from time to time to make sure that it maintains the protective barrier.
The oil and wax finishes are popular because they’re a little less harsh than traditional polyurethane. They also change colors over time as they age. That natural patina that comes from aging can be very attractive.