Why and How to Apply WOCA Oil Pretreatments to a Hardwood Floor

Different wood species installed as hardwood floors will give rooms different atmospheres. Applying oil pretreatments to your hardwood floors can add even more variety to your home design by helping you achieve a number of different effects in the wood, just like hardwood floor stains.

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What are pretreatments, and how are they different from standard hardwood floor stains?

Pretreatments react to the extractives in the wood. Extractives are natural substances that the tree creates or absorbs through its roots as it’s growing, such as pigments, oils, and tannins.

The reaction between the pretreatment and the hardwood floor results in different effects depending on the quantity and type of extractives in the wood, the species of wood being treated, and the type of pretreatment that’s applied.

Oil pretreatments achieve a better consistency of color than standard hardwood floor stains. They rely on chemical reactions to produce changes in the wood, while floor stains usually contain pigments or dyes. 

What kinds of hardwood floor pretreatments are available?

When you begin researching the different types of oil pretreatments for hardwood floors available on the market, it’s important to consider the effect you would ultimately like to achieve.

WOCA, a company known for their durable oil finishing products for hardwood floors, offers a number of pretreatments, including active stain, soft wood lye, wood lye white, and driftwood lye.

It’s important to note that certain pretreatments, such as WOCA’s antique lye, have the greatest impact on white oak. Check the product’s details to make sure it’s compatible with the species you’ll be treating.

One of the effects you can achieve using WOCA oil pretreatments is an aged appearance in the floor. Click here to browse all of the hardwood floor pretreatments we offer

Using a pretreatment to achieve an aging effect works well with species that contain photo-reactive resins, such as Brazilian and American cherry. When the resins in the wood are blocked from sunlight, the wood ages, changing in color. This happens, for example, when a hardwood floor is covered by furniture for a long period of time and the area beneath the furniture stays lighter than the rest of the floor.

Certain pretreatments will react with the wood’s extractives to mimic this aging process and give the wood an aged, worn-in look, as if it were exposed to the elements for several years.

You can also use pretreatments to prevent or slow down certain processes, such as using WOCA’s softwood lye pretreatment to prevent the yellowing that occurs in softwood floors like pine and spruce. WOCA’s standard wood lye pretreatment will produce the same effect, and can be used with any type of wood.

A driftwood lye pretreatment will give oak a light white and gray color to make it look like—you guessed it—driftwood.

After you’ve decided on the effect you want to achieve in the hardwood floor and determined the correct pretreatment to use, it’s time to apply the pretreatment to the floor. 

How to apply WOCA oil pretreatments to hardwood floors

Applying WOCA oil pretreatment to a hardwood floor

In the video at the beginning of this post, we show you how to apply WOCA oil pretreatments to hardwood floors. Here’s a step-by-step recap of the process:

1.  Before you begin, make sure the floor is sanded to NWFA standards, clean, and dry.

2.  Apply an even layer of the pretreatment to the floor using a nylon brush. Make sure to brush lengthwise along with the grain of the wood.

3.  Let the pretreatment penetrate the wood for 15 minutes.

4.  De-nib the floor using a bordeaux polishing pad with or without a green patina disk depending on your desired smoothness.

5.  Use a white pad wrapped in a terry towel to remove excess oil from the floor, and let sit for 24 hours.

6.  Apply a WOCA oil finish to the floor.

7.  De-nib the floor, then use a white pad wrapped in terry towel to remove excess oil. 

8.  Wait 24 hours before applying the final coat of oil finish and repeating step 7.

9.  For safety, hose down all pads and towels before disposing of them.


Browse our full inventory of WOCA oil pretreatments.

For more information on choosing the right pretreatment for your next installation job, contact City Floor Supply at (800) 737-1786 or email info@cityfloorsupply.com


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