Why is Waterlox Tung Oil Finish the Best Choice for Hardwood Floors?

Waterlox Original Sealer & Finish

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Waterlox Tung Oil Finish has always been our answer for elegant wood care on interior wood floors, doors, trim, walls, and cabinetry.  We have been using and  sharing Waterlox for over 20 years. This Tung oil and resin blend represents an extremely beautiful and durable option when choosing a wood finish.

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When we describe Waterlox Tung Oil Finish, we want to convey the unique appearance of this finish. It does not form a “plastic” layer like water-based or oil-based polyurethanes. Waterlox gives the wood a hand rubbed look that is both durable and elegant.  More Video discussion

Because Waterlox cures within the wood, there is not a surface buildup, so the Waterlox hardened surface is less likely to show scratches compared to any conventional polyurethane floor finish. Waterlox looks good longer. Waterlox looks different. Because the wood is not obstructed by a plastic film on the surface, Waterlox naturally accentuates the grain pattern and color of the wood. It is best to actually see it on wood to truly understand the difference.  Feel free to contact us for product samples.

Another great advantage of Waterlox is the ease of maintenance. No sanding is required before recoat. You simply clean the floor and apply a fresh coat. Waterlox provides the best looking protection on wood floors for the least amount of work  over any period of time. Because Waterlox is made from tung oil, it is quite friendly to the environment. Tung oil is a renewable resource processed from the seeds of the Tung tree nut.

Waterlox Advantages

  • Hand rubbed look
  • Unparalleled protection for hardwood flooring.
  • Ease of touch up and rejuvenation.
  • Safer and more serviceable than lacquer for cabinets and walls.
  • Natural wood tones are beautifully enhanced.

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The Waterlox Advantage

Waterlox Original Tung Oil finishes are penetrating oil finishes and as such enhance the wood with a natural oiled look and feel. Waterlox never requires sanding for adhesion and touch-ups can be done at any time without sanding. Waterlox forms a protective finish that won’t chip, crack or wrinkle.

The following is a comparison of how Waterlox compares to other finishes:

Waterlox vs. oil-modified urethane
Urethane finishes form a plastic looking film on top of the wood surface and are harder and more brittle. Finishes in this category are more difficult to apply and are often recommended for professional use only. To properly use a urethane product, extreme care must be used when applying the product and sanding is required for adhesion purposes. Since this finish is a surface film, when the film is breached, it offers no protection at all. Touch-ups and maintenance are labor-intensive, may require a professional, and require sanding the entire surface to bare wood since partial renovations are not possible.

Waterlox vs. traditional water based urethane

Like their oil-modified counterparts, traditional water based urethanes sit on top of the wood surface. Because they are mainly comprised of acrylic and urethane, they don’t bring out the natural patina of the wood. Wear and scratches will also be more noticeable because they will scratch white. They are often difficult to apply and are often recommend for professional use only. Since this finish is a surface film, when the film is breached, it offers no protection at all. Touch ups are also difficult.

Waterlox vs. raw oil or “Danish” oil
Raw oils or “Danish” oils penetrate into the wood pores but do not really protect the wood. Finishes in this category are not difficult to apply, but they offer little or no protection to the wood substrate and can remain tacky like fly paper until dry. Because of this they require frequent and time-consuming reapplication, will water spot and are usually not recommended for working surfaces such as floors or counter tops or for use in water-sensitive areas. While Waterlox Original Tung oil finishes contain a superior drying oil, namely Tung Oil, they are fully cooked varnishes, which dry quicker and form permanent films tough enough to walk on and take daily abuse. Waterlox Original Tung oil finishes are also water and chemical resistant (alcohol and alkali).

Waterlox vs. linseed oil
Linseed oil is a drying oil pressed from the flax seed. While linseed oil will penetrate into the pores of the wood, it will not really protect the wood substrate and will remain tacky like fly paper until dry. Linseed oil molecules are also larger than Tung oil and will therefore have limited penetrating ability. Because of this it requires frequent and time-consuming reapplication, will water spot and is usually not recommended for working surfaces such as floors or counter tops or for use in water-sensitive areas. Linseed oil also contains linoleic and linolenic acids, which cause it to yellow over time. Waterlox provides deeper penetration to seal wood fibers beneath the surface because the molecules are smaller. Waterlox is water resistant and will not water spot like linseed oil, nor will it yellow like pure linseed or linseed oil modified coatings (e.g.: oil-modified urethanes).

Waterlox vs. oil/wax-based systems
European oil/wax-based systems are labor-intensive to apply and maintain. Finishes in this category are difficult to apply and are recommended for professional use only because they are applied by buffing in and wiping off any excess product and are applied in thin coats. While they penetrate into the wood pores, they offer little or no protection of the wood substrate. Because of this, they require labor-intensive and frequent maintenance. Waterlox finishes can be applied by do-it-yourselfers and professionals alike. Waterlox finishes are penetrating oil finishes and as such will penetrate into the wood pores and build up to a film that is water resistant, stands up to foot traffic and common household spills. Maintenance and recoating are easier and not required as often.


Waterlox for Textured and Reclaimed Lumber
Many clients are choosing textured woods including reclaimed, hand-scraped, and distressed. You simply cannot choose a finish that requires sanding on this type of floor. Polyurethanes, Water-based Finishes, and Moisture Cure Urethanes all require sanding to recoat, and represent a poor choice for residential hardwood floors. To avoid ever sanding the character of reclaimed lumber, hand scraped, or distressed wood, we strongly encourage our clients to consider Waterlox. To maintain Waterlox appearance, simply clean and recoat every few years to rejuvenate the finish when desired.

Waterlox on Tropical Hardwoods
While Waterlox enhances and beautifies all types of wood, it is our only choice for oily tropical hardwoods. Tropical hardwood flooring like Cumaru, Ipe, and Brazilian Cherry has always been a challenge both interior and exterior. These woods are extremely dense and hard, and they are full of natural oils that many times will make drying and adhesion of most finishes difficult. Thick polyurethanes lay on the top, where they are prone to lose adhesion. A Tung oil and resin blend like Waterlox can offer the ease of maintenance, and lack of peeling of an oil finish, but with the hardness of varnish. Waterlox gives superior direct adhesion to tropical hardwood, and is even used as a seal coat under many other types of finishes that are otherwise incompatible with oily dense wood. There is no film building with Waterlox, even with repeat applications. Waterlox is very translucent and natural looking on tropical hardwood flooring.

On Waterlox, scratches are much less visible than on a polyurethane, which is prone to show “whitish” scratching. Polyurethane scratches on dark hardwoods are even more pronounced. The other big advantage of Waterlox is that no sanding is never required for recoating. Just clean, and refresh every few years. This is just an elegant finish for tropical and domestic hardwood flooring.

Waterlox for Log Homes
Our product of choice on most interior wood is Waterlox. Waterlox is a superior water-proofer and finish for most log home applications including Walls, Timbers, Logs, Wood Floors, Cabinets, Furniture, Tropical Hardwood, and Reclaimed Lumber. Waterlox gives a Durable, Naturally Beautiful, Hand Rubbed Look. A superior alternative to most commonly used finishes.

Waterlox will certainly protect wood surfaces and make cleaning much easier. The Sealer/ Finish is the simplest system, with 3 coats to most wood (4 coats on soft wood), giving a semi-gloss sheen. If you want a lower sheen, you could apply 2-3 coats of Sealer/ Finish, with a topcoat of Satin Finish. We urge most clients to test a sample when selecting final sheen.

Waterlox for all Hardwood Floors
Waterlox is widely used for hardwood floors. Waterlox on wood floors is much more natural looking and the most easily maintained as preferred by thousands of our customers over the years. All wood floors eventually need recoating and maintenance. One great feature of Waterlox for floors is the fact that the floor does not have to be sanded before applying a renewal coat. Polyurethanes, and water-borne finishes require sanding for rejuvenation. Waterlox eliminates the dust, mess, and cost of future machine sanding. Repeated sanding also destroys the character of many beautiful floors. Waterlox is easy to freshen and rejuvenate. Just clean the floor, and easily apply additional coats depending on wear and tear.

Waterlox.com Floor Finish Guide

Finish for Cabinets
All interior wood finishes have their advantages and disadvantages. Lacquer based products have traditionally provided a great finish for interior wood cabinets. Unfortunately, it is difficult to spray apply lacquer in a residential jobsite. Waterlox is a great alternative to lacquer and polyurethane products for wood cabinets in that it can easily be buffed and recoated on site.

We proudly carry all varieties of Waterlox


We also carry Waterlox applicators and accessories. 

The Hawkins family has worked for four generations to provide finishing solutions that enhance and protect the natural beauty of wood. They began manufacturing Waterlox products in 1910. Waterlox is our product of choice for elegant wood care.