Texture is allure. Nowadays, we Calgarians want to see and feel the rustic texture of our floor coverings. Hardwood, stone and wool carpet have a natural, rustic beauty and we want that beauty to be featured, not subdued or covered up.
When it comes to hardwood, this means that we don’t want the layer of finish to cover the textured and intricate pattern of the wood’s grain. We want those patterns and textures to pop and to feel them underfoot. Enter the new generation of oil finishes—as a result of some impressive recent technological innovations, contemporary oil finishes are very matte, have little to no VOCs, are quite resilient and available in a wide range colours.
Oil products like Rubio Monocoat and Bona Craft Oil are quite low lustre. As ‘penetrating’ finishes they sink into the wood grain. They do not create a plastic-feeling top layer like ‘topical’ finishes such as urethanes do. Rather they give the hardwood a slight polish, the same polish you’d get from a freshly oiled wooden dresser. This kind of raw look simply exhibits the natural beauty of the hardwood itself and all the unique and intricate textures and patterns contained therein.
You would think that such a natural look would only be available in a clear, non-staining format. Not so, however: nowadays, Oil Finishes come in quite a spectrum of stain colours, which is nice when you want to shift the look of your floor to suit a particular style of decor. Going for a darker, deeper brown or grey makes for a good backdrop for a more traditional, formal look. On the other hand, using a light beige or a clear coat keeps the room looking light and ready for some nice contemporary furniture. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even go with a green, blue or red stain and permeate your room with some bold colour. Whatever your preferred flavour, there are many colours to choose from.
Traditionally, many building materials are made with VOCs, (Volatile Organic Compounds). When VOC’s off-gas they add to indoor air pollution, which can be harmful to your health. Levels of toxicity in VOCs vary as do periods of off-gassing, which depend on the product, but even small contributions to poor indoor air quality aren’t ideal.
In the world of flooring, typically it’s the finishes that contain VOCs. Contemporary oil finishes however are low VOC or no VOC. At Floorscapes we use Rubio Monocoat, a Belgian wonder-product. It has zero VOCs, yet it is still very durable, easy to apply and has many colour options. It is so clean in fact, that you can literally eat off of it... You can safely use it on cutting boards.
It used to be the case that oil treatments required a top layer, a kind of sealant in order to protect the hardwood. But manufacturers have advanced the chemistry of oil finishes to make them more protective. Rubio Monocoat in particular forms extremely strong molecular bonds with the cellulose fibers of the wood. This makes for a very durable, resilient finish. Provided that the floor is kept clean and is treated every 3-6 years, it will resist abrasion and keep its colour for decades.
Oil finishes are also much cleaner and easier to apply than ‘topical’ finishes. They require less coats, (sometimes just one), they do not off-gas toxic fumes and they dry very quickly. As far as maintenance, oil finishes need to be “restored” about every 3-6 years. Truth be told, this turns some homeowners off, but it is a simple process:
Sometimes it’s nice to personally maintain your own home. It gives you the satisfaction of contributing to your space with your own hands.
At Floorscapes we carry Rubio Monocoat and Bona Craft Oil, both excellent ‘penetrating’ oil finishes. Having had plenty of experience with the products, even personally, we know their ins and outs and we’d be happy to share our knowledge with you. Come to our showroom to chat.
Written by guest author Eric Osborne