Oiled or Lacquered Wooden Floor: An Overview

When compared to common flooring solutions like carpet, tile and linoleum, hardwood floors offer a multitude of benefits that make it an obvious choice for finishing almost any space; featuring a natural beauty that is both durable and easy to maintain, wood is a no-brainer. 

Beyond simply choosing wood over other alternatives, however, you will likely be faced with choosing between an oiled floor and a lacquered floor. While each one offers its own advantages, neither are perfect for everyone; between upkeep, protection and looks, there are a number of factors to take into account when picking the right wood floor style for you.


Lacquer is without a doubt one of the most durable finishes you can cover a wooden floor with. When applied, it sits on top of the wood rather than sinking in, making it an ideal choice for protecting flooring in areas where there is heavy foot traffic. Because it doesn’t sink into the wood, however, that also means the lacquer can be worn away and may expose the raw wood to damage. 

Oil, on the other hand, is absorbed into the wood once applied, meaning your wooden floors are protected to the core, rather than just on the surface. Oil also has the added benefit of making floors look like they don’t actually have any protection, highlighting the natural look of the wood. 


If you’re after a gloss look for your wooden floors, lacquer will easily help you achieve this. Once lacquer is applied, it can be polished and buffed to a high shine that looks great when clean. Unfortunately, a lacquered wooden floor will also scuff easily with regular use, which can leave it looking noticeably dirty and worn without care. 

Unlike lacquered floors, oiled flooring retains more of its natural look and will leave the wood with a matte finish. Because the oil penetrates the wood, it also looks healthy and well-hydrated and allows the natural colour of the wood to deepen over the years. 


Maintenance & Care

Because lacquer essentially sits on top of the wooden flooring, it also provides some degree of water-resistance. Though no wooden floor should be exposed to much water, especially for long periods of time, a lacquered wooden floor stands up well to spills and drips. The smooth surface of lacquer also makes wiping up messes and sweeping a breeze. It doesn’t, however, hold up as well as oil does to scratches, which can add up over time and leave your floor looking worn even when it’s clean. 

While lacquer is a rather low-maintenance finish, oiled wooden floors require ongoing care and attention to ensure they’re kept in good shape. One of the advantages of oil is that it protects the wood throughout and, even when the surface level becomes worn, it’s still somewhat protected. Scratches also aren’t as noticeable on oiled wooden floors and the integrity of the wood will hold up for years. When it does scuff or scratch, however, some may welcome the look, as it can give the floor character. A wooden floor like this will likely have to be oiled at least twice a year, however, and may require special products to do so, which can be expensive.


While a lacquer finish is strong, it does have a tendency to show scratches over time. Once the damage gets beyond a certain point, the only solution to restore it is to sand it down completely and refinish it. 

Because the surface of an oiled floor isn’t covered, small scratches and dings can be treated with a little bit of sanding and a reapplication of oil, unlike lacquered floors. This allows for repairs to be done on a case by case basis instead of needing to treat the entire floor at once. 


While either choice of hardwood floor will likely fare well when compared to other flooring types, lacquer and oil are designed for two different purposes. If you’re looking for a strong finish that’s low-maintenance, lacquer is the way to go. Not only does it hold up well to heavy foot traffic and activities, but it can usually be brought back up to a high-gloss shine with just a little bit of elbow grease. 

In contrast, oiled wooden floors are best suited for those who are looking for a more natural look that is protected to its core. While it does require more maintenance than a lacquer finish, repairing scratches and scuffs as they happen is much easier than repairing an entire floor at once and can lead to a longer-lasting quality that only becomes more beautiful with time. 

If you’re contemplating a flooring choice for your home, your dream home or for a different project entirely, consult the professionals at Built It Yourself to get a comprehensive analysis that will help you better understand materials and cost as you take a hands-on approach to construction. Specialising in architectural design, interior design, structural engineering and more, Build It Yourself makes construction easy and accessible for those who wish to get in on the process. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or new in the process, BIY can help you make the most efficient and economical choices to turn your vision into reality.