Real Wood Flooring Finishes and Refinishing Guide

In this guide, we will explain the different types of real wood floor finishes, how to refinish an oiled wood floor, and when you should refinish a lacquered floor.

The finish of an real wood floor is the varnish-like layer which is applied to your floor. Each style of finish brings its own visual appearance to the wood, as well as slightly different levels of protection.

Real Flooring Finishes

Satin Lacquer Floors

Creating a smooth finish, satin lacquers are a popular and low maintenance option to finish a real wood floor. All lacquered finishes are more resistant to splashes and scratches and help slow the colour-changing effects from sunlight more than oiled floors. The satin finish is slightly glossy.

Matt Lacquer Floors

Having a matt lacquer finish gives an elegant, natural, less glossy coating to your floor. Matt Lacquer looks more like an oil or wax finish, but is more resistant to scratches. A matt lacquer finish is the most popular way to finish for real wood flooring. Lacquer finishes slow the colour-changing effects from sunlight much more than oiled floors.

Natural Oil Floors

A natural oil finish is the most traditional treatment for real flooring and gives a natural, classic look. Oil needs to be reapplied more often than lacquer, but luckily this is very easy to do. Generally speaking, oiled floors offer less protection against sunlight and your floor will change its colour much quicker than lacquered floors.

Unfinished Solid Floors

Unfinished solid wood floor is a raw material. They have not yet been through a finishing procedure. Some of our floors are supplied unprotected, natural and ready for any finish you think of applying.

Refinishing Oiled Engineered Wood Floors

Please note: The following information is meant for refinishing oiled engineered wood floors only.

When should you refinish your oil engineered wood floor?

It's best to refinish your oiled floor more often than a lacquered floor. How often you do it depends on how heavily the floor is used, but twice a year is good practice. You can also give localised maintenance if there's a particular area that gets more traffic than the rest of the room.

How to prepare your floor

Before you start, make sure to vaccum, clean and dry your floor as thoroughly as possible. This is an often neglected but incredibly important part of the process. Remember when cleaning to avoid excessive moisture - the floor should be dry within a few minutes.


Once the floor is clean and dry, simply apply the oil to the floor and spread evenly with a paint roller.

  • After 10-15 minutes, you can apply the second layer with a roller. Two thin layers is much more effective than one thick layer, and applying too much oil in one go can leave a sticky finish
  • After 5 hours you should be able to move around the room with care
  • After 12 hours you should be able to reintroduce light furniture
  • After 24 hours, carpets and heavy furniture can come back in
Remember, it's important to spread the oil as evenly as possible!

Lacquered Engineered Wood Floors

Please note: The following information is for lacquered engineered wood floors only.

Firstly, it's important to know that there are two different treatments for your lacquered floor: recoating and refinishing.

Our engineered floors can last for generations, but an engineered floor that's well cared for and protected will last decades longer than one that's left to fend for itself. As the years go by, every floor will age and, eventually, need to be treated to bring it back to its former glory.

Refinishing lacquered floor

If your engineered wood floor has deep scratches, water stains or dull patches where the finish has worn right through, it's time for a full refinish! Refinishing is a large task that involves stripping the finish altogether and sanding the boards before applying several layers of the new coating. Because of the equipment and skills involved in this, we recommend this is only undertaken by a professional.

What to expect from the refinishing process:

Sanding lacquered floors

This needs to be done with an industrial sander, and whilst these can often be rented, they rarely have the power or quality of the kind of sanders used by professionals. The finish on the floor will be sanded away (and cleaned up) and then the wood itself will be sanded.

We strongly recommend getting your pets out of house - the dust can be very bad for them.

Finishing a lacquered floor

This is applied evenly with an industrial roller. The coats should be even and thin, building up several layers. Depending on the finish used, it can be several days before you can walk in the room, and a number of weeks before heavy furniture and rugs are reintroduced.

By the end of the refinishing process, you floor should look identical to when you first bought it.

Recoating lacquered floor

If your floor has small scratches or has lost its shine, a simple recoat will be enough to make your floor look new again. This is a relatively straightforward job that can be completed in a day.

  • Lightly sand the finish
  • Clean the area
  • Apply the new layer, evenly

This will remove any small scratches and restore a new shine to your floor. Unlike refinishing, recoating is something that can be undertaken by somebody with a good level of DIY experience.

Note: This is meant for refinishing a polyurethane-coated floor only. If your floor has a wax finish, please consult a professional.

Buffing a lacquered finish

This is done by lightly sanding (also known as screening, scuffing, and buffing) your floor. You don't want to remove the finish, but simply take off the top layer.

Next, thoroughly clean your floor, this is done by carefully vacuuming the whole surface to remove as much dust and dirt as possible. Then the floor should be hand cleaned with a rag and a suitable cleaner.

Lacquered floor coating

This is applied evenly with an industrial roller. The coats should be even and thin, building up several layers. Remember to work from a corner of the room towards the exit so as not to box yourself in. Depending on the finish used, it may be several days before you can walk in the room, and a number of weeks before heavy furniture and rugs are reintroduced.

If you think you floor is beyond a refinish, and need to consider a new floor, check out our range of Wood Flooring.