applying wax to a wooden floor with a brush|waxing a wood floor by hand

Advantages and disadvantages of wax finishes on wood floors

February 17, 2020
Wood flooring has become increasingly popular in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. With a variety of flooring options available, homeowners can tailor their house to their precise specifications and enhance the style they’re targetting with wood finishes. Wax finishes on wood can give a home a modern or traditional feel and can fit perfectly into many different designs. However, there are both advantages and disadvantages associated with wax finishes on wood flooring that need to be considered before it is incorporated into a design.
 waxing a wood floor by hand

Advantages of using timber wax on flooring


Wood finishes can give a floor a longer lifespan, protecting against the general wear and tear that comes with heavy foot traffic. Whether in a commercial or domestic setting, a wooden floor will be subjected to a fair amount of foot traffic over the years. Adding a coat of beeswax or other timber finish can protect the wood and avoid any lasting damage. A coat of timber wax will also hold up well against scratches and better protect the wood from being scratched if something is dropped on to it or dragged across it. In addition to protection from scratches and wear and tear, beeswax or any other wax finish will waterproof the wood. This is useful when trying to protect against spills or water residue that may be associated with heavy foot traffic. Waterproofing a wooden surface can prevent rot or warping.
Wax penetrates deep into the layers of the wood, which means it gives a higher level of protection and keeps the floor in great condition for longer.


A coat of wax can greatly enhance the appearance of a wood floor. Adding a timber finish can give the wood an effect that makes it appear almost brand new. This is because of how the wax protects the natural appearance of the wood and also highlights the pigmentation. As wax is so protective, the timber will always look in good condition and if maintained regularly, the floor can look fresh and clean for years to come.

Environmentally friendly

Adding wax to a floor is a more environmentally friendly way of finishing it. Other finishes contain chemicals that may be harmful to the environment, using a beeswax finish or timber wax provides a more natural way of finishing a floor. The chemicals that are usually found in finishing products can also emit toxic fumes which aren’t only bad for the environment, they can also be detrimental to the health of individuals or pets living in the building. Wax wood finishes will still emit an odour but this isn’t as long-lasting and the smell is much more natural compared to that from a timber finish laden with chemicals.

Easy to apply

Wax finishes are easy to apply and won’t put a room out of action for long. This is particularly important for commercial installations where adding new flooring can put certain areas out of action and effect business operations for a fair amount of time. Wax finishes won’t become tacky during the drying process which can also mean that areas of the home or building will be accessed quicker. This also means that during the application process it is easier to correct any mistakes that are made before they affect the overall appearance of the floor.
It’s easy to see why wax finishes are desirable when installing a new wood floor. Some disadvantages of wax, however, should be taken into account when deciding on finishing options.

Disadvantages of wax finishes on wood

Difficult to remove

Although wax is easy to apply to a floor, it is fairly difficult to remove. This isn’t always a bad thing as most people do not need to remove the finish on their floor. This can be difficult when it comes to maintenance and refinishing floors though, but there are ways to make the process simpler.

It isn’t as durable as polyurethane

Even the best wood wax isn’t as durable as a polyurethane finish, which is understandable due to the composition of this type of finish. However, as wax finishes can enhance the overall appearance of the flooring, it can be difficult to determine whether polyurethane is a better finishing product. Although it is more durable, it doesn’t give the same appearance as a wax finish and can be chipped, which is uncommon with a wax finish. This said, from a maintenance point of view, polyurethane will generally require less maintenance as waxed floors do need refinishing more often.

It isn’t suitable for all types of flooring

Wax can be a great finishing option for unvarnished wood floors and even concrete, but there are some materials that wax finishes aren’t suitable for. Wax cannot be used to finish vinyl flooring or no-wax flooring, but it can be used on materials such as cork and linoleum.

The application is simple, but it does require some elbow grease

If solid paste wax is used then it will need to be applied by hand. This process is simple but does mean that there is a fair amount of physical effort involved in the application process. As it is applied by hand, the individual will need to be comfortable getting on their hands and knees and manually applying to wax to the floor with an old rag.

It can stain the wood

Because wax penetrates deep into the layers of the wood, staining can be an issue. For most people, staining isn’t an issue as they have decided on the look that they desire in their design. For others that like to change up the look of their flooring and try out new finishes over time, this can be an issue.

Weighing up the pros and cons

As with everything, there are pros and cons to weigh up when deciding on a flooring finish. The best option is usually dependent on many factors, so it’s difficult to conclude whether a wax finish is superior or not. Instead, individuals should decide which finishing option suits their needs best before deciding.

Choosing the best wood wax

When looking for the best wood wax, you’ll have two options to choose from, liquid wax or solid paste wax. Both options come with their advantages and disadvantages. Paste wax generally contains fewer solvents and doesn’t require as many coats, but it must be applied by hand. Liquid wax is often more solvent-heavy but can be applied using a mop.
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