Oliviero Sovizzo Vicenza

Heat-treated, oiled or varnished oak: which one to choose

July 5, 2024

Choosing home flooring is in itself a crucial choice: indecision can reign supreme when it comes to evaluating different types of flooring. When one comes to the conclusion that wood flooring is the ideal solution, further doubts may surface: what type of wood to choose and with what treatment? Heat-treated oak, oiled or varnished? The decision is not always so obvious and easy.

This article will guide you through the features, benefits and maintenance of each option, helping you make the best choice based on your needs!

What is Heat-treated Oak?

Heat Treating Wood

Heat-treated oak, or thermally treated oak, undergoes a thermal modification process that involves bringing the wood to very high temperatures, usually between 180°C and 220°C in an oxygen-free environment. This heat treatment is capable of altering the physical and chemical properties of the wood to improve its strength and stability. During heat treatment, the wood's moisture content is reduced, its pores are closed, and the cellulose is partially degraded, transforming the characteristics of oak significantly.

How to recognize heat-treated oak? Natural oak has a lighter shade, with more pronounced and distinct grain patterns that can range from yellow to light brown. In contrast, heat-treated oak takes on a darker hue that can range from golden brown to dark brown, almost black, depending on the intensity of the heat treatment.

The advantages of heat-treated oak

One of the main advantages of heat-treated oak is definitely its exceptional durability. The heat-treated process dramatically reduces the wood's ability to absorb water, making it particularly suitable for moisture-prone environments such as bathrooms and kitchens. In addition, heat-treated parquet possesses much more resistance than traditional wood to biological attack, thus preventing mold growth and xylophagous insect infestation.

So if you want a durable, long-term parquet floor, you can certainly count on the quality and durability of heat-treated oak!

Aesthetically, heat-treated parquet offers a range of very warm and intense shades that can reach even dark chocolate tones. These are natural colors, and not derived from the application of surface dyes or stains, which give rooms a refined and welcoming look, enhancing both modern and more rustic or classic interiors.

oiled oak

Oak Oiled vs Varnished: what is the difference?

Oiled Oak Parquet: what are the characteristics?

Oiled parquet is treated with natural oils that penetrate deep into the wood, nourishing it from the inside and also protecting it from the outside. This treatment maintains the natural appearance of the wood, enhancing its grain and giving it a matte or satin finish. An oiled oak floor offers a warm, natural feel when walked on barefoot, and is often a favorite among choices because of its ability to "breathe," to exude naturalness and harmony.

One of the main advantages of oiled oak parquet is its ease of maintenance and repair: scratches and signs of wear, which can inevitably appear over time, can be easily treated with the application of a specific oil, making the floor look as good as new. However, this is a regular maintenance and preventive function, as the oil tends to wear off over time and must be reapplied periodically to keep the protection and appearance of the wood effective.

Varnished oak parquet: why choose it?

Varnished oak parquet, unlike heat-treated and oiled, features a layer of surface varnish that creates an exterior protective barrier. This finish can vary from matte to glossy, depending on aesthetic preference. Varnish offers stronger protection against scratches, stains and wear than oiling, making varnished oak a popular choice for high-traffic areas such as hallways and living rooms.

Another advantage of varnished oak is its low maintenance. Once applied, the varnish requires little care other than regular cleaning with products specifically for varnished wood. However, repairing a varnished floor can be more complicated than an oiled one. If there is significant damage, the entire surface may need to be sanded and repainted to achieve a uniform result.

varnished oak

How to choose between heat-treated, oiled or varnished oak

The choice between heat-treated, oiled or varnished oak depends largely on aesthetic preferences. If you want a floor with darker and warmer tones, heat-treated oak is the ideal choice to give your rooms an elegant and sophisticated look, while making them cozy and luxurious.

If, on the other hand, you prefer to maintain the natural and authentic look of wood, then oiled oak is the perfect solution because visually it is the type of parquet that most closely matches the look and feel of wood in nature. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a more uniform-looking wood parquet floor, then a high-gloss finish such as varnished oak is the right choice, as the varnish can also be used to add a touch of shine and modernity to rooms.

When choosing the perfect wood floor, it is also important to consider your practical needs. If the floor will be laid in a humid environment or subject to frequent temperature changes, heat-treated oak is highly recommended for its resistance to moisture and biological agents.

For high-traffic areas, varnished oak offers superior protection against scratches and stains, making it more suitable for areas such as entryways, living rooms and kitchens. However, if you prefer a solution that allows easy and frequent repairs without having to treat the entire surface, oiled oak is more practical. Its maintenance requires regular attention, but it allows you to keep the floor in excellent condition with localized interventions.

heat-treated oak parquet

Maintenance and care of heat-treated, oiled and varnished wood flooring

Maintenance and cleaning of oiled oak

Maintenance of oiled oak as we have seen is relatively simple, but requires regularity. To keep your floor in excellent condition over time, it is advisable to clean it with a damp cloth and detergents specifically for oiled wood flooring. It is important to avoid the use of overly harsh chemicals that could damage the finish of your floor, and it is recommended, every six months or so, to apply a coat of oil to nourish the wood and maintain surface protection.

Maintenance and cleaning of painted oak

In contrast, varnished parquet requires less frequent maintenance than oiled parquet, but it is certainly just as important. Cleaning should be regular and should be done using a damp cloth and mild detergents specifically for varnished wood to maintain the shine of the finish. It is important to avoid the use of abrasive sponges or harsh chemicals that could dull the varnish.

In the case of scratches, deep grooves, or damage to the painted surface, repairs can be more complicated as the entire surface may need to be sanded and repainted. This requires special attention to avoid differences in color and texture between the repaired areas and the rest of the floor.

Maintenance and cleaning of heat-treated oak

Cleaning and maintenance of a heat-treated wood floor requires attention to preserve its beauty and durability. Warm water with a specific wood cleaner is sufficient for cleaning, always avoiding harsh products. Pay attention to the mop or cloth, which should be damp to prevent moisture damage and not completely soaked; it should be soft and nonabrasive.

Every 6 to 12 months, according to the manufacturer's instructions, it is useful to treat the floor with a special oil or wax to protect the surface and nourish it. Use felt pads under furniture to prevent scratches and lift furniture instead of dragging it.

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