Oil or lacquer
Written by Silver Lining Floor Care

Oil or Lacquer – what is the best option for me?

There are many different types of floor finishes on the market these days. Two of the most popular are oil-based and water-based lacquer. Both have pros and cons, but which is suitable for your floor? In this blog post, we will look at the differences between oil and water-based lacquer, and help you decide which one is best for your needs.

The difference in the look

The visual aspect is often no 1 reason for the choice. This is a very personal choice. I do not like separating things into nice and ugly, they are all just different! One would not exist without the other.


There is not a decisive winner of those types. If you choose a good quality brand like Pallmann. There is only going to be a winner.

Detailed explanation


If you want, natural good-looking wood floors – go for the one that will give the most natural and beautiful result. And in this case, it is an oil-based floor finish.

The main advantages of an oil-based finish are that it penetrates deeper into the wood, which results in a more natural look. It also highlights the grain of the wood more than water-based lacquer.

You would say that they may require more maintenance than water-based lacquers, as they need to be re-oiled every few years. Nowadays we have very durable 2-component oils like Magic Oil 2K from Pallmann. I did my worktop with it 3 years ago and it still looks amazing. We love our worktop and look after it. We wipe out any immediate spillages, dry it around the sink, etc. It is all about love!

Water-based lacquers

Water-based finishes are becoming increasingly popular, as they are quick-drying and have low odor. They are also more environmentally friendly than solvent lacquers that impact our ozone layer.

PallmannThe main disadvantage of water-based lacquers is that they don’t penetrate the wood as much as oil does. This can result in a less natural look, and can sometimes leave a ‘plastic’ sheen on the floor. The more coats you put on the more ‘plastic’ it starts to look. This is why it should be applied by an appropriate water-based roller so the coats are spread accordingly to manufacture recommendations. There are also options when it comes to choosing the lacquers. Very basic lacquer Pall-X 94, premium one component lacquer for domestic use Pall-X 96, 2-component with extra hardener, commercial-grade lacquer Pall-X 98 for finishing any commercial property or sports halls. For bare wood effect, lacquers with a white pigment in it like 2-component lacquer Pall-X Pure. Our favorite, as it is the most eco-friendly lacquer, as it doesn’t contain any VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds), Pall-X Zero. Zero will take more time to dry and costs a bit more than the others. Although, in the long run, it might be cheaper as it is the most hardwearing of all. Read more about Zero system on this blog.

So, should I choose oil or lacquer?

As with most things in life, there is no simple answer. It depends on your needs and preferences. The oil is the way to go if you want a natural look for your floor. If you prefer a bit more sheen, then water-based lacquer is probably more suitable. Whichever one you choose, make sure it is applied by a professional with the proper equipment.


We are Pallmann ParkettProfi approved contractors and Ultimate Floor Sanding affiliates for London area.



My personal opinion

The biggest advantage of oil is that in theory you never have to sand your floors again ever. If you maintain it well and are happy to live with some imperfections on the floor (life!) that may appear during the years of use that this is it. It is the most eco-friendly option, as it reduces the need for new wood. Scratched oiled floor adds character, scratched lacquer floor is just ugly 🙂

Did this article help you understand the difference between oil and lacquer finish?

If you are still unsure about which type of finish to choose for your floor, then please read this atypical article I have written some time ago, which helped during my health crisis. It was the time that I set up a mission statement for the business and the values we want to leave up to every day.

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