Hardwax v Varnish: Pros & Cons

Most people seem to be under a misconception that Hardwax is a finish that will leave there floor looking natural, like oil does right.


Oils & Hardwaxes will give a traditional yellow finish that turns a tobacco colour with age, manufacturers like to call this an aged warmth, but what it actually is, is the uv light from the sun which over time turns the finish yellow, a bit like oil based white paint which goes yellow with age, all Hardwaxes and oils turn yellow.

To be fair on dark and red timbers it doesn’t make much difference as all Oils or Hardwaxes will enhance a dark or red wood floor but when using Hardwax on light coloured species such as beech, maple, oak. elm and fir the product turns the timber a lovely warm shade of yellow over a period of time, definitely not a natural look, what i would call a traditional old style look.

I actually really like this look but feed back from my clients is they don’t

It’s not only Hardwax or Oils either, all solvent & oil based varnishes of old also turned yellow progressing to orange, in todays market pre finished varnished & oiled floors also turn yellow, because manufacturers don’t use water based or water bourne varnishes, why?

My guess is application & cost because waterbased varnishes are far more expensive to produced and cannot be put into spay guns to give 12 mist coats.

The spray method used by manufacturers does give a faultless finish that cannot be matched by site finishing using waterborne finishes, the main reason being the controlled environment factories have in comparison to dusty atmospheres site have.

Solvent based finishes are not allowed to be used on site as VOC content is high and can only be used in a controlled environment.

Most people have the misconception that waterbourne varnishes do not give a natural look to the floor and look plasticky but in truth waterborne varnishes are the only finishes that give a natural non yellowing finish, waterborne or based finishes are usually uv fast and let the wood beneath them age naturally rather than turn a nice shade of yellow over a few years. Available in a huge range of sheens so no plasticky look.

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