The Essential Guide To Oak Floor Finishes


Finishing your oak flooring is one of the most important jobs in protecting your investment and achieving the desired look for your project. However, this can easily become a minefield, with so many different brands and finishes available.

With this in mind, we have created this essential guide to available finishes for oak flooring.

If you are looking for information on which particular brand produces the best finish, you can check out our Guide To Oak Floor Finishes by clicking here.

Please Note: All of the images in this piece should be used solely as a guide. For a true representation, always test out the finish on a small offcut prior to complete application.

( To download a printable pdf version of this guide, click here)


What Is The Difference Between A Satin And A Matt Finish?

Satin Finish

Matt Finish

How To Choose Between A Satin Or A Matt Finish?

What Are The Alternatives To Satin Or Matt?

Colour Stains

The Natural Looks

Final Comparisons

What is the difference between a Satin and a Matt finish?

One of the most common questions we are asked here at Peak Oak is "What is the difference between a Satin and a Matt finish?"

In the oak flooring world these two finishes are the most common when purchasing a hard wax oil, that is designed to protect your oak floor.

Satin & Matt Comparison

Different brands have their own terms with which to describe finishes. Blanchon have their Natural Matt or Natural Satin finishes, Osmo have their Matt or Satin-Matt and Fiddes have Clear Matt or Clear Satin. All of these are effectively a Matt or Satin finish respectively.

Satin and Matt Comparison

Satin Finish

When applied to oak boards, a Satin finish will give your floor a warm, honey colour with a slight sheen, which will reflect light.

Satin finish is a popular choice for creating a more homely atmosphere.

Satin Finish

Satin Finish

Satin Board

Matt Finish

Increasing in popularity, matt finishes offer a more natural, understated feel to your oak flooring.

Matt is often chosen for more contemporary spaces with the Natural Matt finish providing little or no sheen to your oak boards.

Matt Finish

Matt Finish Board

How To Choose Between A Satin Or A Matt Finish?

The choice between satin or matt finish in the end will come down to your own personal preference and environment. The final look of the finish is affected by the style of your room as well as overall lighting.

Finishes can also be affected by the grade of oak flooring chosen. For example, to really bring out the colour and stripes in our Manor House Brown Oak Flooring, we recommend finishing with a satin finish for a fantastically dramatic effect.

Brown Oak - Satin Finish

What Are The Alternatives To Satin Or Matt?

If you are looking for a direct alternative to a Satin or Matt finish,  there are a number of different options available to you.

Ultra Matt

The latest innovation in the hard wax oil market comes from Blanchon with their Blanchon Hardwax Oil - Natural Ultra Matt which offers something slightly different from the standard matt finishes available. As the name suggests, ultra matt has absolutely no sheen whatsoever.

Blanchon Hard Waxoil - Ultra Matt

Matt and Ultra Matt Comparison

Satin / Matt / Ultra Matt Comparison

Colour Stains

If none of the above options are to your taste, a colour stain could be what your looking for. As before all of the different brands offer their own personal styles, with the Osmo Wood Wax Finish Transparent and the Blanchon Hardwax Oil Colours. With so many different styles available we have created our own colour swatch below.

Blanchon Colours

The Blanchon Hard Waxoil Colours offer a range of colour alternatives from their hard waxoils. Created from the same formula that is used to create their traditional hard waxoil, the colours range offers the same great protection to your wood.

Blanchon Hard Waxoil - Colours

Available Colours

Weathered Wood, Old White, Rough Timber, White, White Grey, Light Grey, Metallic Grey, Graphite, Black, Walnut, Wild Cherry, Light Oak, Smoked Oak, Golden Oak

Weathered Wood

Blanchon - Weathered Wood

Old White

Blanchon - Old White

Rough Timber

Blanchon - Rough Timber


Blanchon - White

White Grey

Blanchon - White Grey

Light Grey

Blanchon - Light Grey

Metallic Grey

Blanchon - Metallic Grey


Blanchon - Graphite


Blanchon - Black


Blanchon - Walnut

Wild Cherry

Blanchon - Wild Cherry

Light Oak

Blanchon - Light Oak

Smoked Oak

Blanchon - Smoked Oak

Golden Oak

Blanchon - Golden Oak

The Natural Looks

Many of our customers will often ring us up asking how can they retain the natural unfinished look of their oak boards, yet still keep them protected. Once again thanks to the innovation of Blanchon, you can do just that, with the Blanchon Wood Floor Oil Environment. If you're looking to finish your oak floor, yet keep it as natural as possible, this is the product for you.

Coating up the boards, it's immediately obvious that the final finish is very much affected by the tone of the underlying oak board. For boards with a more prominent grain, the final finish is generally quite dark in tone. With boards with a lesser grain, the final finish is generally lighter.

Blanchon Environment Colours

Available Colours

Rough Timber, Natural, Ultra Matt, Bare Timber

Rough Timber

Blanchon Environment Rough Timber


Blanchon Environment Natural

Blanchon Environment Natural

Ultra Matt

Blanchon Environment Ultra Matt

Blanchon Environment Ultra Matt

Bare Timber

Blanchon Environment Bare Timber

Final Comparisons

In the final comparison of the finishes the Blanchon Hard Waxoil - Natural Matt, Blanchon Wood Floor Oil Environment - Natural and the Blanchon Wood Floor Oil Environment - Ultra Matt was coated onto the same oak board. An area was also left unfinished to show the original look of the board. The outcome of this can be seen below:

Blanchon Comparison


Thank you for this guide. It is very useful.

I was wondering what the difference is between the rough timber and bare timber finish is? From the photos the rough timber seems to emphasise the grain more than the bare timber?

I am looking for a finish that will preserve the original look of the wood as much as possible.

Thank you!


Kim September 7, 2013 at 10:17am

Hi Kim,

We would probably describe the rough timber and bare timber finishes in the same way as you have. The rough does seem to emphasise the grain more than the bare timber.

In our opinion if your looking for the closest you can get to an unfinished oak colour, we would recommend the Blanchon Original Wood Environment - Ultra Matt.

Many thanks

Peak Oak September 9, 2013 at 10:16am


Thank you so much for your reply. It was very helpful. Looks like I will go for the Ultra Matt.

Kind regards,

Kim September 28, 2013 at 6:29pm

Very useful thread, thanks. Do you know if the Blanchon Wood Floor Oil Environment is suitable for use on a table top? I'm looking for a natural finish on a dining room table and on the face of it, this would help me achieve the result I'm looking for.


Simon March 26, 2014 at 3:23pm

I see that the Blanchon Environment product is water based, as opposed to full oil based products like Osmo.
I really like the idea of something that leaves a natural look, but after past experiences I'd be concerned that a water based product would raise the grain of the wood significantly more than oil, so make sanding between coats a major task. Any comments on this?
Many thanks, Duncan

Duncan June 16, 2014 at 3:45pm

Hi Duncan,

In terms of sanding between coats, with the blanchon environment product, a very light sand is required after the second coat. This removes any slight rougher areas. We do have a guide on the application of this product that by be seen <a href="[link awaiting verification]; rel="nofollow">here</a>

many thanks

Peak Oak June 18, 2014 at 10:42am

Does the "White" finish have any sheen? Can I get it in "ultra Matt". Confused as to whether Ultramatt is a colour or a finish.

Jane July 21, 2014 at 11:32am

Highly technical information you have been there of satin and Matt finish of wood and further their sub-varieties of more types of wood finish. A satin finish has a luster and Matt is little bit dull and natural.Explanation is wonderful and very much appreciable. Thanks !

Joseph Rohdes September 23, 2014 at 1:02pm

Looking at staining oak skirting and interior door in graphite. Does this colour let the natural grain come through on the wood and can I get a tester pot?

Nicky ross October 18, 2014 at 11:27pm

I need to apply a finish to engineered oak boards throughout my flat - including the open plan kitchen and very sunny triple aspect living room.
What finish(es) would you advise?

Jenny March 14, 2015 at 12:41pm

Hi Jenny,

The type of finish you require really comes down to your own personal preference. Our <a href="[link awaiting verification]; rel="nofollow">essential guide to oak floor finishes</a> shows the different styles available.

Hope this helps.

Peak Oak March 17, 2015 at 10:04am

How is the resistance of the Blanchon Wood Floor Oil Environment ?
Is this similar to the Blanchon Intensiv ?



Jean-Christophe Petit May 17, 2015 at 1:23am


We have solid oak select grade flooring and applied one coat of Blanchon Hard wax oil satin. Should we apply two coats and does it need any other treatment?

Thank you

Maike Knight May 19, 2015 at 12:46pm

We like the Blanchon Hardwax oils for use in our hall, but how often would it need redoing or anything other than just sweeping, wiping or vacuuming? We would like to use something long lasting with little maintenance if possible-what option do you think is best?
Thank you

Jackie May 22, 2015 at 4:18pm

I heard that Blanchon Bare raises the grain and also is high maintenance needing redoing every few month and that Osmo polyoil raw is equally natural but lower maintenance and no grain raised as its oil not water based. What is your opinion

Hettie July 28, 2015 at 11:33pm

Question, Could I use a white or grey Hard Waxoil on some Oak veneered ply kitchen drawer fronts, and is that the best product to use?

Many thanks


Hugh September 8, 2015 at 11:17am

Hi Phil,

As you say we mainly deal with oak so do not have too much experience with pine. The Blanchon Hard Waxoil is designed as a wood finish, so is suitable for use on both oak and pine.

The natural characteristics of pine will normally mean that the colours will appear lighter, compared to how the colours are shown in this guide. We would recommend testing out the finish first to ensure you are happy with the results.

Hope this helps

Peak Oak April 12, 2016 at 1:57pm

Hi Hugh,

In your situation you would need to check with the manufacturer of your veneered drawer fronts what products they recommend for finishing and whether a hard waxoil can be used on their product. Hard wax oils can be suitable for some veneered items, but not for others.

Hope this helps

Peak Oak April 12, 2016 at 1:57pm

Hi Maike/Jackie,

Maike - Blanchon recommend that atleast two coats of the hard wax oil are applied. With Regards to treatment, it is recommended that the Blanchon Soap is used regularly during cleaning.

Jackie - The same as above, using the soap helps to preserve the finish. The maintenance oils are also used further down the line to help refresh the finish.

Hope this helps

Peak Oak April 12, 2016 at 1:57pm

Hi, I have recently installed engineered wood flooring in my house. The type is natural oak with UK oiled.
Could you let me know if I can use smoked oak wax on natural UV oiled oak flooring? Will this change the colour of my flooring?


Kavita Trivedi June 2, 2016 at 2:31pm

Hi Kavit,

With any wood floor finishing product the recommendation would always be to apply the finish to bare timber. This ensures there is no negative reaction between the current finish and the freshly applied finish. As for colour change, yes as the smoked oak is a colour, it will change the colour when applied.

Many Thanks

Peak Oak June 10, 2016 at 6:19pm

Hi Jane,

All of the hard wax oil colours are produced with a "natural" finish. This means they have little or no sheen.

The hard wax oil ultra matt is a finish that will leave your oak flooring with the warm, honey colour (the same applies for the natural and the satin). The ultra matt however will have no sheen.

Hope this helps.

many thanks

Peak Oak June 10, 2016 at 6:25pm

Hi Nicky,

All of the Blanchon finishes are designed to provide as natural finish as possible. As you may see from the image, the graphite does however seem to provide a more "solid" colour in our sample.

Yes we do have small sample pots available for purchase.

Hope this helps.

Peak Oak June 10, 2016 at 6:26pm

We are about to restore our victorian pine floorboards. I prefer the warmer coloursd like golden oak or smoked oak hardwax oil. Two questions: do I need to stain the floorboards first in that colour and then apply a Banchon hardwax finish or can I go straight for the Blanchon golden oak hardwax? what effect does an oak stain have on pine floorboards?

Gabriella July 7, 2016 at 6:47pm

Hi Gabriella,

The Hard Wax Oil colour can be applied straight onto the timber as this is an hard wax oil and stain combined. As suppliers of oak, pine is not something we deal with, so cant comment specifically. The finish is of course designed as a wood floor finish so is suitable for both oak and pine.

Hope this helps

Peak Oak July 11, 2016 at 4:37pm

I have an ok floor approx 4x5 metres.
I'm looking to give it a grey tint hoping the grain will still show through with a Matt finish, can you recommend how much is required and does this mean I should be looking at buying the light grey?

Thank you

Brenda October 15, 2016 at 11:25am

Hi Brenda,

As you have suggested the light grey is an option, likewise there is the white grey and graphite available. Which is best is all dependant on your own personal preference. There are sample pots available for these products, which may be worth testing out on a off cut of timber.

With regards to quantity, one 2.5 litre tin should cover approximately 25m2 with the recommend 2 coats.

Hope this helps.

Peak Oak October 17, 2016 at 5:10pm

Dear Sir/Madame

I have oak door frames, doors and skirting boards I would like to oilwax. I managed to get sample pot of Blanchon light gray hardwax oil, but effect I manage to get is no were close to sample you have on website. Or it look like painted with gay paint or after some sanding looks just dirty. Please advice how did you manage to get so impressive effect.
I consider as well black option but again I am afraid it will just look like I would use black paint.
Please advice.

Kind Regards

Chris January 25, 2017 at 10:02pm

Hi Chris,

With the Blanchon Hard Waxoil - Colours the effect can be influenced a number of ways. For these samples, we applied with a cloth rather than a roller/brush. When applying the colours the excess should be removed and the colour "worked into" the timber. The coats need to be thinly applied.

Hope this helps

Peak Oak January 26, 2017 at 4:34pm

Hello, I've sanded my bedroom floor boards (Not oak) and would like to achieve a natural light/mid oak colour and satin finish. What would you recommend and are the products suitable for whitewood floorboards?

Angela October 5, 2017 at 8:53pm

Hi - we have a tumbled oak floor which has been treated with smoked oak hard wax oil. The colouring, however, has gone too warm and is too orange for our liking. We're planning on treating it with a Blanchon black hard wax oil to make the colour a lot more neutral. Do we definitely have to sand the existing floor before we re-treat it, or will it be ok if we apply the oil over the top (and test it first). Any advice much appreciated!

Al April 14, 2018 at 10:25pm

Hi Al,

Typically with any type of wood finish, the recommendation is for the finish to applied directly onto unfinished timber. If you were to apply onto the existing oil we couldn't really predict the outcome.

Hope this helps, if we can assist any further please let us know.

Peak Oak April 16, 2018 at 11:53am

Hi, just looking at your floors and doors . We need both my query is you do door frames too ?
Kind regards

Irene October 23, 2018 at 10:17am

Hi Irene,

No problem at all. Yes we do have Door Frames available - these can be seen via the following link:

Peak Oak October 23, 2018 at 10:20am

Can you use the ultra Matt on others types of wood - we have Douglas fir / old pine. Thanks.

Neil November 4, 2019 at 1:43pm

Hi Neil,

These products can indeed be used on a number of different wood types as well as oak.

Many Thanks

Peak Oak November 4, 2019 at 1:57pm

We have stripped an old pine farmhouse table and painted the legs but want to keep the table top as close to the Light stripped pine colour As possible but also something that will wear well as a table. I was looking at the Blanchon wood environmental bare timber as the product that will keep as near to the timber colour aS it currently is?

Karen July 7, 2020 at 5:05pm

Hi Karen,

Yes, the Blanchon Original Wood Environment is designed to keep your unfinished timber as close to the unfinished look as possible. It is always best to test a small area to check that you are happy with the overall colour.

Hope this helps

Peak Oak July 10, 2020 at 10:00am

Hello - We have solid oak floors throughout the ground floor - we inherited them and advised they were laid at our house 22 years ago when th house was built. The whole house is stained medium oak - they are too orange! we have tested a patch in the airing cupboad and it is a nice light oak (blonde colour) and we want to sand th floors and have a light grey matt finish - what would you recommend please and do you offer sample pots to purchase? Thanks Karen, Bedfordshire.

Karen Matthews August 2, 2021 at 10:29am

Hi Karen,

One product that may be of interest is the Blanchon Hard Waxoil - Colours ( range which has a number of different grey colours available. In this range there are Light Grey, White Grey and Metallic Grey finishes available. These are also available in smaller 0.25 litre pots.

Hope this helps, if we can assist any further please let us know.

Peak Oak August 3, 2021 at 9:57am


This page is extremely helpful and obviously your main focus is on oak but would you be able to help me with how the Blanchon Colours finishes would look on pine floorboards?


Phil August 4, 2021 at 10:18am

Hi Phil,

No problem at all - although we mainly deal with oak, the Blanchon Hard Waxoil - Colours can be used on a number of different wood types. As a general rule - due to the natural characteristics of pine - applying a Hard Waxoil to pine will tend to produce a lighter, perhaps more orange coloured finish in comparison to applying to oak.

Hope this helps.

Peak Oak August 4, 2021 at 10:44am

Hi, we have been advised to contact you to source engineered flooring for our lounge. We are renovating a 400 year old house and have discovered beautiful dark wood floor boards on the top floors (wide Elm wood planks as advised by our carpenter). I am after a wide board, natural finish, minimal shine and dark in colour board for our front room as unfortunately no original boards found there. Please advise on what you would recommend would be suitable. Many thanks, Michelle

Michelle Newman August 31, 2021 at 2:57pm

Hi Michelle,

We have a range of different grades available - one of our most popular would be our character grade engineered oak flooring ([link awaiting verification]). This grade is available in a number of different widths and is supplied unfinished. As for the colour itself, there are also a number of options available - the Blanchon Hard Waxoil - Smoked Oak / Black may be of interest ([link awaiting verification]).

Hope this helps, if we can assist any further please give us a call. Alternatively we do have a showroom where you can see all of our different ranges in situ.

Peak Oak September 2, 2021 at 9:55am

Hi I have previously used Blanchon environment ultra matt on a new oak herringbone floor as I was trying to have as little colour change as possible. It was great but not as hard wearing as a non water based oil.
Could you recommend which Blanchon product if used on its own or a combination of there other colours could be closest to replicating the look but be more hard wearing as an oil. I know it will be slightly more orangey but the trade off of being more hard wearing would be worth it.
Also have you any knowledge of if a clear matt oil based oil could be put over a water based oil like the Blanchon and if this would stop the orange look?
Thanks, sorry about the long question…

Frank February 21, 2022 at 11:29am

Hi Frank,

As you mention the Blanchon Original Wood Environment is designed to protect the timber without significantly changing the raw, unfinished colour. Other oil products will change the natural colour.

One option could be to opt for a coloured hard waxoil such as the Blanchon Hard Waxoil - Colours ( Some of the lighter colours in this range (such as the Weathered Wood) could be an option in this range.

As an alternative to an oiled finish, you could try the Blanchon Intensiv ( The Intensiv is a lacquer rather than an oil - but again does not change the colour too significantly.

Hope this helps, if we can assist any further please let us know.

Many Thanks

Peak Oak February 21, 2022 at 12:17pm

I have a oak staircase that needs a recoat especially on the treads. But don't know what colour and finish to use to avoid doing the entire staircase. I can send a photo of that would help.

Jason Wren October 24, 2023 at 2:12pm

Hi Jason,

No problem at all. If you wanted to send us a picture to we can take a look and try and advise.

Many Thanks

Peak Oak October 30, 2023 at 10:10am

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