Choosing Between Lacquer And An Oil - Finished Floors

We are often asked to help the client or designer to choose between an oiled and a lacquer finish.

Along with the general appearance there are a few other things to consider.


Oiled floors tend to have a more natural appearance because the oil penetrates the wood rather than forming a coating on top. Oil works well with textured floor finishes like brushed oak.
Concentrated foot traffic may “burnish” an oiled floor and the surface sheen may increase in these areas. This is often regarded as an attractive part of the floor’s mellowing process. Lacquered floors tend to retain a more consistent appearance, being affected less by “traffic lanes”. An oiled finish will not chip or crack as all the oil is held within the wood fibres.
When sanding and renovating a floor an oiled finish will bring out warmer and richer shades in the wood compared with a water-based primer.

Oiled floors may not be suitable for sports, dance and activity floors. This is because the slip resistance is largely determined by the smoothness of the wood. However they are very suitable for general use in residential, public, retail and other commercial locations. With correct maintenance they can be harder wearing and retain their appearance better than lacquered floors. Lacquer finishes have consistent slip resistance and so are more suitable for activity and sports floors.
The ESFA design standards require all new and refurbished multi purpose and sports halls in schools in England and Wales to be sealed with 100% polyurethane lacquer finishes eg. Junckers HP Sport lacquer.


Daily cleaning is the same for both finishes.

Medium term, an oiled floor will need to be re treated more frequently than a lacquered one, given the same traffic levels and cleaning regime. However oiling is a quicker and easier process.  

An even simpler approach is to use Junckers quick drying Top Oil, which is very easy to apply.

Oiled floors can be “spot treated” so highly worn areas can be locally treated to improve their appearance and keep the surface protected. There is no need to treat the whole floor.

Lacquered finishes on the other hand are a little more difficult to spot treat because the area will be more visible compared with oil.


Both types of finish are easy to sand and re- treat.

Oiled floors may be lacquered on top of the oil with Junckers HP Commercial lacquer if the client decides to change. Switching from lacquered to oil however means that the floor must be sanded back to bare wood first. Junckers HP Commercial Ultramatt lacquer will give a very natural appearance similar to oil, due to its extremely low sheen.

Junckers Rustic Oil offers a wide range of coloured finishes. For lacquered floors Junckers has a new range of coloured Prelak Primers. Another route to a stained and lacquered floor after sanding is to prime the floor with Coloured Rustic Oil and then seal it with Junckers HP Commercial lacquer.

Environment and Health; Indoor Climate Labelling

Most of Junckers lacquer and oil products are certified under the Danish Indoor Climate Labelling scheme. This scheme measures emissions from the product over a period of time. Customers can be confident that certified products are safe to use and are not detrimental to the indoor environment.

NOTE: Junckers Black Oak Factory-Oiled Floors
Junckers Oiled Black Oak floors can become scuffed during the installation process. Because of the dark colour some scuffs may be more visible than normal. When pricing and installing new black oak factory-oiled floors, include for on-site treatment with Junckers Top Oil.

For more information, contact Junckers Technical Department