In Search of Natural

In Search of Natural

Anderson Township, OH, family completes new home with natural oil hardwood finish and cork

When the original plan for putting strand bamboo flooring in the new home they were building in Anderson Township, OH, went awry, Jennifer and Carlton Monroe reviewed their priorities.

“I wanted something natural,” Jennifer recalls. “But it also occurred to me that on the first floor, I wanted something that was spot-repairable.”

This was the beginning of a selection process that ended with the Monroes putting hardwood – finished on site with a natural, hard-wax oil — on the first floor, and cork flooring upstairs in the bedrooms and hallway.

When a customer mentions that they want to be able to spot-repair scratches from wear, instead of refinishing the whole floor as you usually have to do to maintain polyurethane finishes, natural oil becomes a lead contender.

Oil vs. polyurethane

The natural aesthetic offered by the oil finish was a top priority. Hard-wax oils soak into the wood, accentuating the natural grain, and over time, the appearance develops a rich patina. In contrast, polyurethane finishes – which have been embraced as the standard in the United States — put a plastic-like coating that sits on top of the floor.

Oil finishes also are markedly lower in VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) than polyurethane, and Natural Interiors even offers zero-VOC finishing.

“I always like to consider options that are not what everyone else is doing,” Jennifer says. “And I am not a fan of the look of polyurethane.”

With two young children and a dog, Jennifer anticipates periodic touch-ups to the finish, which is a part of the normal maintenance of an oiled floor. Worn sections can be recoated without having to refinish large areas or the entire floor.



Cork reduces overhead noise

The Monroes also continued to keep the flooring natural upstairs where they installed an engineered cork floor.

This floor is put together in layers, with cork on the top, HDF (High Density Fiber Board) as a core, and a cork backing. This construction is among several points to consider when choosing cork because it affords the sturdiest, moisture-resistance product and keeps the corners of each panel flat and square. It also absorbs noise.

The cork brand used here is among those that can be recoated if needed in time, though it is in the lower-traffic area of the home.©




  • natalie kiernan
    Posted at 21:17h, 25 March Reply

    Please tell me the pros and cons of using natural oil on my white oak common grade flooring.

    Which natural oil should I use to keep the color in tact as is, maybe deepen slightly, as in your pictures above?

    • Nancy Kibbee
      Posted at 08:46h, 26 March Reply

      Oil finishes allow the natural wood grain to show, which many people like, while others prefer a polyurethane coating that creates a plastic-like surface on the floor. The product used in these photos was Osmo Hardwax Oil. I prefer Rubio Monocoat or WOCA zero-VOC oils because they have very little or no odor. They come in different tints. The one you are looking at is natural, with no real tint.

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