Oil Wax vs Poly

Oil, Wax vs Polyurethane for Wooden Floors

Hardwood floors need protection against dirt, spillages and moisture. There are two ways of doing this: oil waxes or polyurethane.

Oil Wax

Oil waxes protect the wood in two ways. First, the oil penetrates the pores of the wood to give internal protection against dirt ingress and spillages. Second, the wax forms a surface protection against moisture and water in a similar way to a waxed jacket.

These natural oils and waxes will leach out of the floor over time and will need to be replenished on a regular basis. This can be done very easily with the correct maintenance and requires little or no skill. You may want to have your floor cleaned, buffed and re-oil waxed once a year by a professional company such as Gäte Hardwood Floors.


Polyurethane protects the wood from above by forming an impenetrable layer that keeps dirt, spillages and moisture away from the wood. Generally there will be between three to five layers of polyurethane on the floor, and over a period of between five and ten years the lacquer will wear away. Once this happens the entire floor will need to be sanded and then re-polyurethaned.

Comparing the two

Polyurethane floors do not need yearly maintenance, but have a five to ten year visible cycle of deterioration; i.e. more and more scratches in the finish, to the point where the polyurethane has to be re-done. Oil waxed floors on the other hand look better and better as time goes by.