Hardwax Oils - why use them?

21 Aug 2019
Matt Wilkins

Go back no more than 10 years and very few people had even heard of hard wax oil, type hard wax oil in to Google now and every man and his dog has got something to say about it, sadly most will tell you you the same old thing and that's what the manufactures have written on the tin.

As users and stockist of this product for over twenty years now i hope we can give you a bit more information that will help you make the right choice of oil as not all hard wax oils are the same.

Hardwax oil is a wood oil and for interior use only, also known as wax oil, so what is Hard Wax Oil ? why is it so popular.

Anyone who grew up as a child on the “aroma” of a floor treated with beeswax will never forget that lasting impression. However, what most people forget is that it required hard work in those days to create that impression. In the past, beeswax was usually hard wax which had to be rubbed in using plenty of elbow grease. The refinement of the floor, the moment when the unique smooth finish took shape was a process that took years. Each round of maintenance actually “nourished” the floor so that special silk finish became increasingly beautiful.

That technique today is no longer used, however Hard Wax Oil does offer the same result, but with out the sweat and tears.

So how does it work? Well lets first look at the two types of floor coatings - Saturation versus Film?

When it comes to wood, staining or moisture penetration means that a product, liquid or moisture ends up in the pores of the wood and lodges there, wood is a porous material with an open grain so you have to block this open grain to stop the moisture penetration.

There are two ways of preventing staining or moisture ingress, you can make sure that no dirt or moisture gets into the pores of the wood by sealing them (with a film coating) or by filling the pores of the timber (with a liquid coating “saturation”) this ensures there is no room in the pores for any thing else.

Film coatings - lacquer or varnish type of coating is the only finish for wooden floors which puts a film on the surface.

Saturation Coatings- Having just mentioned lacquer/varnish is the only finish which creates a film, all other finishes work primarily through saturation, this applies to oils and waxes. In applying and rubbing in the traditional (hard) beeswax, you gradually filled the pores full of wax and only after the pores were completely saturated you had a good strong protective coating.

At a later stage the filling of the pores with wax was replaced with oil and then finished with a top coat of wax and then buffed up.

To-day this oil wax combined with carnauba and bees wax, linseed oil, castor oil, wood oil and a number of other natural resins has progressed into what we know as Hard Wax Oil, the actual recipe varies from one manufacture to another, but the principle is the same.

As regards looks and visual elements, beeswax and hard wax oil are comparable in some respects since they don’t leave a film on the wood surface, this is also important as regards feel. People are often opposed to varnish precisely because this film formation which makes the floor appearance look to shiny and the feel is comparable to that of plastic. Today’s matt and ultra matt varnishes have brought about a major visual change. However, an oil finish preserves the colour and feel of the wood like no other. Indeed you can still feel the pores and grains as there is direct contact with the wood.

A floor treated with hard wax oil is resistant to water and dirt as a result of the saturation, the wax component forms a hard layer, this layer gets harder over the years and in proportion to the frequency of maintenance. (more on the importance of correct maintenance in a later chapter) The surface is exceptionally hard so that the floor is highly resistant to wear and scratches. In contrast to a varnish, an oiled floor can breath freely, the coat of wax remains elastic so cannot crack, peel, flake or blister.

Hardwax Oils are also perfect for use on all interior timbers.

When you're looking for hard wax oils and specialist wood coatings that you can trust, you can depend on AG Woodcare to provide you with the products for whatever you want to treat and have listed further information with each product to help in your selection but if you require more information please call our technical help line.