So we have made a Guide on the differences and advantages of
the two most common finishes.
One of the hardest questions to answer is: what makes a better finish, lacquer or oil/HardWaxOil?
First of all it’s down to personal taste and secondly to what is expected of the interior door.
Historically wooden interior doors oiling and waxing has been seen as very labour intensive to maintain (who doesn't have memories of caretakers buffing away endlessly week after week after week with old school Danish oil or boiled linseed oil!). Then came the ‘modern’ lacquer these finishes were almost forgotten about.
Please note Hardwax oil is not recommended for Oak external Doors
For many decades most of the wooden doors’n’ floors in the U.K. were pre-finished lacquered or lacquered/varnished on site. Maintenance became simple, buffing on hands and knees a thing of the past and there is a choice between high gloss and matt appearance. The newest innovation in lacquer even has the same appearance as an oiled interior door to make the wood look more ‘natural’.
The biggest disadvantage of a lacquered finish on a wooden oak door is that it ‘sits’ on the door and once it is scratched it is very difficult to repair. When damaged with a sharp object the lacquer will simply wear away and the whole door and will begin to look very worn.
The only proper solution would be to sand the complete door and and to apply a new finish. Applying a proper lacquer layer is a job for the specialist, lacquer is not very forgiving to DIY enthusiasts.
The labour intensive maintenance of the old-fashioned wax-door has now become a thing of the past with the introduction of Hardwax oils. With these the end user simply has to apply one product (Hardwax oil) to get the benefit of both an oiled and wax finish.
The oil will penetrate the wood, much deeper than wax and add a nice colour while the wax will sit on top adding protection and stopping moisture transfer.
Nowadays most oiled doors are pre-finished (or finished on site) with HardWaxOil, combining the natural oil (long term protection) and the carnauba or bees hardwax (wear and tear layer) in a two-in-one product. It’s very easy to apply and a very forgiving product when some mistakes are made, in fact an ideal DIY-finish.
It has a great surface density and therefore very resistant to abrasive movements. Besides that, any (small) damages are very easily repaired with some wax or maintenance oil without the need to sand the whole door.
The appearance of the finished wooden door is matt satin with the advantage of making the door look warmer, deeper in colour over the years.
An oiled-waxed or HardWax Oiled wooden door requires slightly more maintenance than a lacquered door, but will not require sanding down when it received its first knock or scratch.