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UV oil vs UV lacquer

Even if you have a chemical engineering degree, finish on wood floors can be hard to grasp and confusing. And worse, since the actual content of the finish is usually a tightly guarded trade secret, the label of the finishes don’t really carry much information and vague. Here, I’ll try to explain in simple English what is UV oil and UV lacquer finish, what’s the difference, and which one is better for you.

UV oil

This is done by apply a layer of special oil(mostly natural oil) to the top of the wood, let it soak into the surface and use high capacity UV ray to cure and harden it. The oil will bond with wood and form a hard wearing layer. The origin of this method dates back hundreds even thousands of years, even today, use natural hardening oil like tung oil or linseed oil is still widely used by furniture makers. However natural oil cures by oxidized, the process takes long time, sometimes even month, and the oil don’t usually cure to very hard. To make it suitable for modern lifestyle, manufactures tune the formula to make it cure by high energy UV, so they cure faster and to a higher wear resistant level.

The major benefit of oil finish (UV oil included) is that it feels natural, because the cured oil becomes part of the wood, you are touch the real wood, and you can feel every detail of the grain and the warmth of the texture.

Oiled finish does require maintenance, the surface need period rejuvenate of oil. The process is much simpler than you think, it is as simple as mop the floor with maintenance oil and you are done.

Although the oiled finish is less durable than a lacquered one, the scratch is less noticeable and much easier to fix. To fix a scratch, simply wipe on oil like WOCA wait a couple minutes then wipe it off.

UV lacquer

UV lacquer is a hard wearing layer sits on top of wood surface that cured by high energy UV rays. In contrast to UV oil, it does not penetrate into wood, instead, it bonds to the surface of the wood, and form a layer on top.

This film layer is more durable than cured oil, so it is more wear resistant, however scratch is more noticeable than oiled surface. And if scratch do develop, it’s much difficult to fix, usually it requires sanding a larger area and then apply a lacquer product.

Since lacquer only bonds to the surface of the wood, in extreme conditions, like leave it the elements for weeks, the film may crack, chip or even peel off. This usually is not a real concern, since floor sits inside and protected.


Pick UV lacquer for high traffic area, and UV oil for natural look and ease of maintain. The bottom line is: modern finish performs much better than their ancestors, properly maintained, both product will last 20+ years before you need to consider refinishing.

Boards left out in the sun and rain for more than a month.Top: UV lacquer, you can see some chipping. Bottom: UV oil, still in very good shape

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