Oil Finish vs. Non-Oil Finish for Hardwood Floors

/ September 14, 2015

The finish of any hardwood flooring is very important for both giving your floors that luscious, beautiful sight as well as for properly preserving them for many years. However, no matter what type of floor finish you or a professional performs, it will have to be re-finished at some point in order to keep them looking pretty.

The question inevitably becomes… what hardwood flooring finish do I select?

Well, in the hardwood flooring world there are many finishes out there. They all come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. However, we just want to educate you on the difference between oil finishes and non-oil finishes.

Non-Oil Finishes

non oil finish hardwood floor advantages

The most common types of non-oil finishes are varnish & polyurethane. Other choices include lacquer, shellac, and water-based finishes. Non-oil finishes are often known as “surface sealants” because they sit atop the hardwood floor, providing both an extra layer of protection and the glossy shine to your hardwood floors.

Main advantages of non-oil finishes:

  • Once you apply it, they will typically last several years of up to 35 years or more before having to be refinished.
  • Will resist most minor impacts and spills, preventing damage to your floors.
  • Varnish finishes have the ability to prevent wood floors from collecting dust.

Oil Finishes

oil finish hardwood floor benefits

A popular choice for oil finishes are hardwax or tung oil. However, other options exist such as linseed oil and Danish oil. All oil finishes actually penetrate the hardwood floors, harden, and provide added protection from within. They do not provide as much gloss as non-oil finishes, but offer a great alternative for classic or exotic flooring options such as our Oak Strauss. They must be re-coated more frequently than non-oil finishes – roughly every couple of years or so for best results.

Main advantages of oil finishes:

  • Wood can be re-coted without having to sand the floor.
  • Damage to hardwood floors is generally easier to repair.
  • They do not crack or peel as some non-oil finishes are known for.

Trust a Professional!
You should never attempt to apply a hardwood floor finish, oil or not, unless you have a full understanding of what you’re doing. Plenty of DIY guides may be found online, but without a full understanding you put your hardwood floors at risk. We always recommend a professional in these circumstances.

View our detailed guide on hardwood flooring finishes.

What Type of Hardwood Flooring is Best for Children and Pets?

/ September 4, 2015

pet friendly hardwood floors
A lot of us have children and pets – they bring joy to our lives in many ways. However, they both have a tendency for unpredictable, often times rambunctious behavior. For those with hardwood floors, this could be slightly problematic. Fortunately, there are plenty of hardwood floor options that are tough enough to support families who have children and pets.

Best Types/Features of Hardwood Floors for Children & Pets


Pre-finished engineered wood floors are the absolute best for managing households with children and pets. Pre-finished engineered hardwood usually comes with aluminum oxide layers that give the wood a harder, more durable finish as opposed to site finished. The strong coating works very well for children and pets.


Handscraped floors are widely popular nowadays for a variety of reasons, but they also happen to be a great choice for the accidental damage that results from children and pets. The reason being because the imperfect beauty of handscraped floors leave a distressed look that makes it appear as if the floor has been used for a while. This helps hide scratches and dents very well. Even from large dogs that dig their nails into the floors.

If you’re not a fan of handscraped flooring, then an alternative surface texture to consider would be chiseled edge hardwood floors due to having similar features.

Light Colors

Light colors aid in hiding scratches that result from your pet’s paws or dents caused by children who drop toys on the flooring, etc. We offer a lot of different light hardwood flooring options.

Matte Finishes

Matte finishes, as opposed to glossy finishes, do not feature much shine to them. The shine of a floor has a tendency to reveal any abnormalities if present. But because matte floors do not feature that glossy shine to them, they work well for masking scratches and dents.

Janka Hardness

Floors that have a higher rating on the Janka Hardness Test will be better suited for homeowners with pets & children. The Janka Rating measures how drastic a dent is on specific types of floor, which translates into a numerical rating. Brazilian options are generally the strongest, but they not light-colored. Maple is both reasonably strong and can be offered in many lighter colors.

Urban Floor’s Best Flooring Choice for Pets & Children
urban floor best choice pets children
*Bach featured in the Composer Collection by Urban Floor.

View our guide on How to Manage Pets with Hardwood Floors!

Featured Floor of the Month – Brazilian Cherry Rio!

/ August 18, 2015

summer hardwood flooring
Brazilian Cherry Rio by Urban Floor.

What are a few things you think of when you hear the word “Brazil”? Soccer? Beautiful beaches? Even though Brazil celebrates its summer when we (U.S.) celebrate our winter, we’re still enjoying our summer currently and the Brazilian Cherry Rio fits the vibe quite perfectly! That is why it is our featured floor of the month this August.

The Perfect Choice for Summertime

With reddish, brown undertones and slight hints of yellow and orange – we believe there’s no better engineered hardwood floor option that fits this well for summertime. In reality however, it’s not just summertime that this floor shines… It shines all year round.

Why? Because it’s made from top quality Brazilian Cherry wood (hence the name)!

A Little Background Information

Brazilian Cherry, also known as Jatoba, has a natural golden luster to it – allowing for a lot of color character when exposed to sunlight. It would make a great floor for beach houses that are exposed to sunlight quite often!

Brazilian Cherry trees can be found in southern Mexico, the West Indies, and throughout Central America including northern Brazil with trees reaching heights up to 130 feet tall. To put that into perspective imagine around twenty 5’5” (which happens to be around the average height for people in the U.S.) people stacked on top of each other. In other words, a really tall tree!

urban floor brazilian cherry

The Real Shine

We associate Brazil mainly with soccer, beaches, and beautiful women, but in the hardwood flooring world Brazilian wood is cream of the crop when it comes to hardness and density.

On the Janka scale (the source of measurement for testing hardness of floors), Brazilian Cherry ranks in very high with a rating of 2,820 – making it the hardest product that we offer @ Urban Floor.

What does this mean? This means don’t be afraid to party! While Brazilian Cherry is a tough wood, it can still be damaged like any other hardwood floor so don’t go too crazy!

We offer a convenient guide on cleaning & care for hardwood floors.

Buying from Hardwood Flooring Stores vs. Home Improvement Stores

/ August 5, 2015

hardwood floor store vs home improvement store

You’ve made the decision to purchase hardwood floors, now the question is… do you purchase the hardwood floors from a hardwood flooring store or a home improvement store? We’ll give you a few convincing reasons why a hardwood flooring store is your absolute best bet.

Specialized Knowledge

Workers at a hardwood flooring store are a lot more equipped with knowledge of hardwood floors over a home improvement worker who must have knowledge of hardwood floors, refrigerators, barbecues, and many other topics. They do not specialize in the industry so their knowledge may be limited.

Hardwood flooring store workers have the ability to educate you on details such as types of wood to consider based on your home décor, attention to climate, design, and installation. They will also spend more 1-on-1 time with you and will not be in a hurry as a home improvement worker might be who may be responsible for inventory checks, cashiering, etc.


Hardwood flooring installation is very important if you want your hardwood floors to last. Hardwood flooring stores are often work with licensed and certified professional installers saving you the headache of finding a reputable source on your own.

Looking for a hardwood floor installer? Here’s what you should know.


Hardwood flooring stores will have a much wider selection of offerings to choose from. They also swap out their inventories with the latest styles and popular choices that are tailored to specific needs a lot more frequently than home improvement stores.

Home improvement stores typically carry hardwood floors they know they can sell in mass quantities, which is often lower quality flooring due to price constraints. However, the positive side to this is that you may be able to find discounted prices. The saying goes: “you get what you pay for.”


This is a big one. Some home improvement stores may offer enticing warranties to entice you into buying. Almost every hardwood-flooring store will offer excellent warranties for several years (possibly even lifetime), repair policies, and even money back guarantees.

Remember, you’re making a decision to invest in a product you want to last for quite awhile. It’s worth investing more time and money upfront so that you do not run into common problems down the road – costing you far more than what you had to pay upfront!

American Walnut – A Prized Hardwood Flooring Option

/ July 28, 2015

american walnut hardwood flooring
Walnut Natural as part of our Urban Lifestyle Handscraped Series Collection.

American walnut is one of the most time-tested options in both furniture and hardwood floors. Walnut is a popular option because it is revered as a sophisticated choice that has the ability to transform any home into an elegant masterpiece.

Many consider American walnut a luxurious, distinctive option. It is the only domestic hardwood that has an ability to begin as a darker tone and then transform into a beautiful, brown hue in a short amount of time. It’s sapwood features a lighter color for contrast. This amount of color variation is some of the highest we offer at Urban Floor.

Why American Walnut is regarded as a classic hardwood flooring option?

  • Ages beautifully as described above
  • Offers unique color variation from tan/cream colors to purplish blacks and dark browns
  • Is highly sophisticated in nature
  • Used for decorative panels, gunstocks, and many other furniture options
  • Pure and fresh in nature – working well with almost any combination of traditional, interior décor
  • It’s tolerance for nailing, stapling, finishing, and sanding make it an attractive choice for hardwood floors

Fun fact:
Europeans consider American walnut as a symbol of fertility, while Native American Indians consider it a symbol of clarity and focus.

An example of its prized sophistication can be found below.

american walnut sophistication
Walnut Apache as part of our Mountain Country Collection.

A Little History of American Walnut

American walnut is native to eastern North America, but has made its way west, landing in many states located in Central, U.S. American walnut trees grow very tall, sometimes up to 150 feet in length.

Aside from being used in hardwood flooring, American walnut is also widely used in natural medicine, started by Native American Indians as way to eliminate parasites from the intestine. Today it is commonly used as a natural laxative, as well as for its anti-parasitic and anti-fungal effects.

American walnut trees are one of the few tree species with an ability to naturally regenerate when planted. As a result, trees are abundant and serve as a viable source for lumber needs.

Looking to read more about “eco-friendly” hardwood floors? View our article.

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