The Rise of Alternative Hardwood Floor Finishes

I'm Ready for MY Free Estimate!

or call (810) 730-0000

In the world of hardwood flooring finishes, polyurethane has long been the champion. It’s durable, easy to apply, and lasts a long time. Many homeowners are turning to alternative finishes for several reasons. Some of them might not like the look of the hard polyurethane coating. Others might worry about volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that polyurethane releases while it’s curing. Whatever the case may be, there is a large market for alternative finishes.

Penetrating Oil

Penetrating oils have a low-luster finish that instantly makes any floor look antique and old world. Lemon oil, tung, and linseed are some of the most common ils. They penetrate the surface of the wood to seal the wood against moisture. They tend to be very natural products, which means they’re low odor. Lemon oil actually smells like lemons.

These finishes highlight the grain of the wood, which is very desirable for some people. The wood looks natural even though it’s been finished. Lastly, oil can be applied and reapplied by the homeowner themselves. You just wipe the oil onto the floor with a rag or a flathead mop. You allow it to dry, and then you buff it. It takes a while for the floor to dry, but the application is simple and quick.


Shellac is often used as a general term for natural wood finishes, but actual shellac is produced from the resin of a lac bug. The resin is then dissolved in a solvent; typically, that solvent is alcohol. When you’re buying shellac, look for the “pound cuts” measurement. That’s a measure of how many pounds of shellac have been dissolved in one gallon of solvent. A higher pound cut will be a thicker and more resilient shellac.

Shellac is nontoxic, low VOC, and easy to apply. It dries quickly compared to polyurethane. You can also apply a wax finish to keep your shellac looking great.


You can wax an oiled or shellacked floor. You can also wax an unfinished hardwood floor. Wax comes as a solid paste or a liquid. To apply it, you simply follow the directions on the packaging. Typically, for a solid paste wax, you’ll apply it with a cloth. Liquid wax can be mopped onto the floor. Allow the wax to dry, and then buff it to a shine. It’s lower in luster than polyurethane, so it looks more natural; however, it still has some sheen to make your floor stand out.

Hire a Detroit Hardwood Refinishing Company

When applying a finish to hardwood floors, the best route to go is to hire a local expert. Local hardwood floor refinishing companies have the experience with these finishes, as well as other finishes, to give you the floor you’re looking for!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these <abbr title="HyperText Markup Language">HTML</abbr> tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


Hi, How Can We Help You?