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Revisited – Pallmann Magic Oil

It’s hard to believe it’s been 4 years since we wrote this blog post: Magic Oil review. The response we received from that series of articles has been incredible. A lot has happened since then. At that time, not many people had heard about these types of finishes and only a select few hardwood floor refinishing companies were offering them to their clients.

Pallmann Magic Oil Revisited

4 years down the track and hardwax oil finishes have become extremely popular. They are now a very serious contender among mainstream finishes. It’s been fun watching their progress. We have completed over 100+ hardwax oil projects in that time… half of them Magic Oil.

So I guess the big question is: What do we think of hardwax oils now, 4 years down the road? How are they performing? Are we still using and recommending them? Are there any issues to be aware of?

In this article we’ll revisit Pallmann Magic Oil. In a future article we’ll take a look at Rubio Monocoat.

We’re happy to say the pretty much everything we wrote in the original Pallmann Magic Oil article still stands true today.

In that article we covered the basics of what we look for in a finish:

  1. Has to look good
  2. Must be long-lasting, durable to traffic and resistant to spills
  3. Have relative easy maintenance and repair
  4. Not “yellow” excessively over time
  5. Not have high VOC’s and stink up the home for days on end
  6. Not take forever to cure

We are still extremely happy with the performance of this finish in covering each of these 6 points.

So how has it performed in the real life?

 

Some of Our Projects Revisited Years Down the Road…

Below are some of the jobs we’ve been able to go back and revisit over the years in order to see how the Pallmann Magic Oil finish system was holding up.

Project #1 – Elmhurst, Illinois
We sanded and refinished this builders showroom with Magic Oil over two years ago now. It’s one of our favorite colors – a process of the floors being fumed, stained and finished with Magic Oil…

Magic Oil 1 Year Later

It gets quite a bit of traffic as any office and showroom would. We asked and nobody takes their shoes off (which makes sense for a public showroom), even in winter time. That means that snow, salt, dirt and grit gets brought in and walked over the floor on a daily basis.

How has it held up?

Extremely well as you can see in the photo above.

 

Project #2 – Hinsdale, Illinois
This floor was sanded and refinished 3 years ago. A beautiful white oak floor stained spice brown and Magic Oil on top. This is a very active home. A family of 5, 3 active kids and a large dog. A very high traffic home by anyone’s standards…

Magic Oil 2 Years Later

Looks good doesn’t it?

Here’s their pooch looking very guilty…

Magic Oil with dog

To show how much abuse these floors get, last year, while we were back here installing and refinishing flooring in the hallway… one of their kids was riding his hoover board round and round the kitchen.

This is a perfect example of why we love and recommend this finish system so much.

 

Project #3 – Naperville, Illinois
This photo was taken 2 years after we finished this project. Its red oak stained 25% Rosewood and 75% Golden Brown and finished with Magic Oil. Unlike the above floors, this is quite a low traffic home. But they do have a small dog that scampers around on them…

Pallmann Magic Oil One Year Later

As you can see, the floors look like new. They have done a wonderful job looking after them.

So, we have ample proof that Magic Oil is a wonderful, long lasting and beautiful finish system in all types of situations.

If that’s the case, then…

Why Are There People Online Saying Their Floors Are Leaving Spots and Easily Scratching With Magic Oil?

Yes, we’ve noticed that too. From the comment section of our original Magic Oil article and from phone calls we’ve received to help repair projects others have done, we see that certain people are definitely having issues with this finish.

Here are some of the issues that readers from all over the country have commented on in our blog…

“I am a homeowner who has had Magic Oil applied to existing red oak flooring, sanded down of course. I am so disappointed and am beginning to think that maybe something was missed in the application. I’ve got water spots everywhere and I cannot seem to remove them. Everytime I turn around there is another scratch or blemish. We have only had the product on a week and I think we are going to have it sanded down to the bare and start with something else. Any advice?”

That doesn’t sound good.

Here’s another one…

“We recently had new Red Oak floor installed and finished with Pallmanns Magic Oil. The floor guy did not have experience with product, but was willing to try it. We ran into a couple problems, and would greatly appreciate your opinion… it appears the finish is compromised in places, especially in the kitchen where we are seeing lots of spotting and ‘dry’ patches. The installer admitted the finish set up on him faster than he expected leaving excess oil on the floor. The installer was willing to come back and rescreen and spot re-finish. But that raised the question of how hard it will be for us to spot-fix ourselves in the future.”

Can you start to see the problem?

Here’s another comment that is more obvious…

“I went with magic oil to get a little extra sheen. Sanded to 120 grit, then applied two coats consecutively (spread on pretty thin with plastic trowel-like tool, left on for about 15 minutes, excess wiped off with paper towels, then buffed with a random-orbit polisher with microfiber cloth covering. Immediately repeated same steps with 2nd coat. After curing, it looks very blotchy – lots of uneven sheen, almost hazy/dry in some spots…”

We’ve seen quite a lot of these types of comments on other home renovation forums too.

 

If We Love This Finish So Much and Haven’t Had One Problem In 4 Years… Why Are Others Experiencing Such Issues?

What’s the cause of badly performing Magic Oil floors that are leaving spots, patchy and blotchy areas and are easily scratched?

From our experience, 2 things in particular…

1. Inexperience in applying these types of finishes.
This is referring to both inexperienced flooring professionals that are practising on client’s floors (a BIG no-no), as well as the huge army of DIY homeowners. These products are professional grade finish systems and take quite a lot of expertise and skill to apply properly. Yes, they can be done by a DIY homeowner that has some advanced woodworking and painting skills and follows the manufacturer’s instructions… but (and please don’t shoot me), its most likely out of the realm of most weekend DIYers. I say this because if even apparent professionals, with all the right tools available and years of experience with other finish systems, are having a tough time applying Magic Oil properly, how is a DIYer, without these tools and skills, supposed to be able to.

This inexperience leads directly into the second issue…

2. Too much finish being left on the floor.
The chemical design of these types of finishes directs that in order for them to perform properly, they have to be applied in the exact correct coating sequence, in the right timeframe and all excess finish needs to be removed quickly before it dries and cures. If either of these steps are done incorrectly – like the comments shown above – then yes, there will be issues. Excess finish left on the floor won’t cure properly and will leave the floor patchy and easily scratched.

 

Hopefully that clears up some of the confusion of why some are having issues… while experts in using these finishes are not.

Like all things in life, the more skilled someone is at something, the better the result will be.

When it comes to refinishing floors, it can be very frustrating, time consuming and costly when things don’t go right.

If you decide to have a go applying Magic Oil yourself, please practice, practice and practice some more on large sample boards before taking a shot at your entire house. And even then, when you start, do the closets first, then the back bedrooms, then the main bedroom before starting on the more open and used rooms in your house. That way you’ll have some experience by the time you get to the living room.

If you decide to hire a professional floor guy and he tells you he hasn’t used these types of finishes before… seriously consider whether you want him practising on your floors. Read the third comment above from our blog again if you doubt me. I wouldn’t want you to be an unsuspecting guinea pig and lose time, money and years off the life of your floors. There’s enough of us out there that know what we’re doing and have years of experience now. They need to do what we do and practise on sample panels in their workshop and on their own floors (every room in my house has a different finish).

Pallmann Magic Oil Hallway

The photo above is another Pallmann Magic Oil floor we did early this year. It is red oak and stained Nutmeg.

 

I’ve Heard Repairing Them Isn’t As Easy As They Claim…

Yes, we have heard this too.

Here’s one example from our blog…

“Unfortunately, we had some paint leak through one of our painting tarps and it dried in spots on our hard earned beautiful floor!!!! I tried several methods to remove the paint from the surface, but finally resigned to sand and repair the spots. My repair job did not work so well. I sanded the spots feathering them out a bit, restained, waited 24 hours and then reapplied the Magic Oil buffing in well. The spots that were repaired now look like scuff marks instead of blending in with the rest of the floor. Is this a sanding issue?”

In answer to her question… yes, it was a sanding issue.

When attempting repairs in Magic Oil, you need to follow the exact procedure done with the original sand and refinish. Use the exact same grit sequence and even the same sandpaper if possible. Then the Magic Oil should be re-applied in the same way and with the same amount of coats as the rest of the floor.

If the floor was water popped prior to staining, then that needs to be done as well. Then the exact same stain (hopefully a sample from the original container) should be applied and wiped off in the same timeframe.

If you miss one of these sequences it won’t look right or blend in to the surrounding area.

In some case’s it’s better to re-sand and refinish the whole board. That way if there has been any UV damage, the whole board will at least be the same shade.

For our clients in Naperville and Chicago, we keep detailed notes of all our jobs such as sandpaper used, what processes were implemented, as well as samples of stains. That way, should they ever run into this issue, we can help them through the process… or be hired to do it for them.

Magic Oil with Dog

The project above was done about 2 years ago. This photo was taken almost a year later. Its Red Oak stained with 50% Sedona and 50% Ebony, finished with Magic Oil. As you can see they have quite a large dog and the floors still look great.

 

In conclusion…

Hopefully this gives you good, hands on insight into Pallmann Magic Oil so you can decide whether it is worthy of your consideration.

In our opinion it is one of, if not THE best, hardwax oils on the market right now.

We love this finish system and stand behind it proudly. We’re happy to have been one of the pioneers in experimenting with and using hardwax oils in Chicago. We intend to offer them to our clients for many years down the road.

We’ll have the 4 year review of Rubio Monocoat ready for you soon. Until then feel free to ask any questions you have about Magic Oil, or share your experience with it (good or bad) below…

 

38 Comments

  1. Kimberly says:

    Thank you so much for the time and effort put into this revisit. Very timely as we are soon to be putting down our flooring and are trying to decide between Magic Oil and Monocoat. Eagerly awaiting the Monocoat review! Any idea when that should be up? 🙂

    • Hi Kimberly,

      It will be in month or so sorry. Way too busy doing ‘real’ work 🙂

      As a heads up, the Rubio Monocoat Revisited post will be extremely positive too. To date we have finished 47 floors with Rubio and haven’t had 1 single incident. We – and more importantly our clients – love it.

      I would say the deciding factors between the two will be color preference and sheen level preference. Rubio has more color options whereas Magic Oil has a higher sheen level.

      Hope that helps make your choice a little easier.

      Tadas

    • Kimberly says:

      Thank you so much for your help! Do you know by chance if one can use either a wood conditioner or gel stain (I read on a wood working site that this actually works better) to avoid blotching issues common to certain wood species? I know that it is possible to stain the wood prior to the Pallmann, but I am uncertain as to whether or not there is a way to simply eliminate the bit of blotching I am getting on my test boards with both Rubio and Magic Oil and if so is there a particular product that should or should not be used to do so.

      I hate to bother you! I just can’t seem to find the answer anywhere.

    • Hi Kimberly,

      We always water pop before staining. We don’t use products like gel stains. You will see on most of the labels of these products that they are not recommended for using on floors… for good reason.

      You can see our post on water popping here:

      http://napervillehardwood.com/blog/what-is-water-popping/

      Hope that helps 🙂

      Tadas

  2. Marybeth says:

    I’ve enjoyed following your blog posts for awhile now. Thank you for sharing your expertise & your valuable time!

    Have you have ever had a customer that requested Rubio, and then changed their mind regarding the matte finish?

    If so, are you able to go over the Rubio finish with a 2nd coat of either the Osmo or Pallman brand of hardwax oil?

    Thank you

    • Hi Marybeth,

      To answer your first question, no we haven’t as yet.

      For the second question, no again sorry. You can use a polyurethane finish over top if you want more sheen. But this will take away the functionality of the Rubio and make it a surface finish floor.

      Tadas

  3. Ruth says:

    Thank you for your helpful information. When you mention stain and then Magic Oil, what brand of stain are you using? Does it change the Magic Oil sq/ft coverage or amount of time to setup before buffing off? We would like to use Minwax stain because we have raw hickory floors and the sample oil stain varies in color much more than the Minwax.

    • Hi Ruth,

      We use Duraseal stains. It will change the coverage slightly but the time between buffing stays the same. Can’t comment on Minwax stains though sorry.

      Tadas

  4. Ruth says:

    How do you buff oil on stairs?

  5. greg says:

    Hello,
    Please advise on use of pallman magic oil if red oak floor is to be distressed by screw driver tips/ ice picks and back side of hammer for indentation. Then steel wool soaked in vinegar several hours and the liquid rubbed on to blacken before hand scrapping. This floor also has v groove. these recessed areas will remain blackened as will any we choose to leave behind with the flat plane hand scraping.
    Duraseal for staining then neutral magic oil. Specifically will these areas recessed create any potential problems with the magic oil finish? How about additional drying time given these areas may “pool” the stain?
    Thank you for your in depth website! This has been the single best source of information on oil finishes I have been able to find anywhere. I am forcing my very experienced but stubborn flooring contractor to read this before he partakes on my floor! Wish you would work in Cincinnati as your passion for your craft is impressive.

  6. Byron says:

    Tadas,
    I have to say you are certainly unselfish to spend the time you do sharing your knowledge and expertise with others and I have learned a lot reading your reviews and replies. I have a different situation from those I have seen on your site and would appreciate your advice. I have a non-commercial woodworking shop and I am replacing my current floors with solid wood 80% heart Caribbean Pine . So, I have been researching the best finish for this type of application. I fully understand that that no finish will protect the floors from the scratches and gouges to be expected in this environment, so a finish easy to repair is important. Also, of importance is some protection from spills such as wood stains and something that will not allow spilled glue to adhere strongly to the floor surface. Additionally, the faster the cure the better. From what I have read on this site I am leading towards Rubio or Magic Oil. The low sheen of Rubio is not a issue for me and the idea of the one application process is appealing. Of the finishes you have experience with, which do you believe would be the better option for my situation. Your assistance is much appreciated.

    • Hi Byron,

      Personally, I would go with Magic Oil in this situation. It has a bit more of a wear layer and will probably be easier to remove the spilled glue from.

      Hope that helps.

      Tadas

  7. Byron says:

    Thanks for the quick reply. Magic Oil it is. Byron

  8. Debra says:

    Hi Tadas,

    I have just recently found your website and blog and have a question about Magic Oil since you are so knowledgable. I was wondering if floors that have been sanded and one coat of a protective oil based sealer applied, can have Magic Oil used as the final finish? I am doing a restoration project and for several reasons, the floors needed to be sanded. The floor guys wanted to put one coat of sealer to protect them. They are now covered and we will not be ready to do the final finish for probably a month. Before i ask them about Magic Oil, I thought I should know if it is even possible to use it at this point.

    Thanks, Debra

  9. Debra says:

    I was afraid of that. Would it have been possible to do that with the Magic Oil if I had started with that? By that I mean, if the first coat had been Magic Oil, could the second coat have not been put on a month later to finish? Also, if you don’t mind, I would love to have your opinion on another floor. I wish you were in the South so I could hire you but since you are not, thank goodness you have this wonderful blog! I have another project, a historic house with 150 yr old heart pine floors that are in horrible condition. Once they are sanded, they will, as you know, be red. I would like to kill the red as if they have no stain or finish on them and have a mellow, worn patina. Not weathered like they have been outside but aged like they would have been all those years ago. I think a hardwax oil finish would be perfect but I do not know how to achieve the color, or lack of color, and neither does anyone I have talked to around here. Most of the time here, even on the antique heart pine floors, everyone puts a glossy polyurethane finish. I think a worn, natural look would be beautiful if I could achieve it. Does this make sense to you and do you have any suggestions as to how I could accomplish this?

  10. Debra says:

    Thank you so much for your help and advice! I have actually decided to go to the closest town that sells both products tomorrow to check them out and get some samples to play with. I agree Rubio sounds like my best bet for the look I want and I so appreciate your guidance. I wish we had someone with your knowledge of floors and products in this area. It is admirable that you spend your free time sharing your expertise and helping people with their floor problems and situations. Thank you again, Debra

  11. Michele Tippett says:

    I am re-sanding my outdoor covered porch as areas from the Virginia sun have become black and the finish destroyed, leaving bare wood exposed. The entrance and stair areas that are black are in direct sun for certain times of the day. Rubio exterior products are not available in our area. Can you please recommend a product similar to Rubio that I can get at Home Depot or Lowes? I have ordered Rubio but the sanding may be done prior to Rubio Monocoat Hybrid Exterior arrives. I ordered Rubio after the over night deadline. The weather is a factor in getting this done so waiting for Rubio to get here may not be an option. Thank you in advance for your response.

    • Hi Michele,

      Sorry for the delay in getting a reply to you, it’s been a busy couple of weeks here. I’m sure you have found a product by now. We aren’t really experts in exterior finishes sorry. I have heard that Sikens has a pretty good reputation though.

      Sorry I can’t be of more assistance.

      Tadas

  12. Cindy says:

    Can you apply Pallman white hardwax oil over duraseal stained floors? Everytime I see that Pallman hardwax oil can be applied over a stain it always says the natural hardwax oil.

  13. Nina says:

    Thank you so much sharing your knowledge and experience. I live in Charlotte, NC. Sounds like the key to good outcomes with Magic Oil and RMC is excellent preparation and execution of the application How do I find a floor refinisher as good as you?

    • Hi Nina,

      Sorry for the very late reply. First thank you for the nice compliment 🙂

      To find a good business, I would look on Google for floor refinishers in your area and get at least 3 to come over and give you a quote. Ask them the questions outlined in the free guide here: http://napervillehardwood.com/guide.html

      Also have a look at their Facebook profile for pictures of previous work and read their reviews (although we know of many businesses that buy fake reviews so be a bit cautious there.)

      I hope you find someone great for your floors.

      Tadas

  14. Pat says:

    Great site! Thanks for sharing your experiences over such a long time. I have a magic oil finished (professionally) floor just over 18 mos old and it still looks amazing. I too have a question about magic oil white. Do you have any example photos you can share? Looking at doing just the white finish over rift sawn white oak and am wondering what it might look like and any tips to getting that “Nordic” look. Thanks.

  15. Arun says:

    Tadas,
    Need quick advice if you can for an ongoing work.

    I am getting my red oak floor refinished with duraseal stain and pallmann magic oil. Contractor put the samples on the floor, it feels very rough, perhaps from the water popping. Floors has been sanded down. He smoothened the sample area with screen mesh and then water popped and the applied the samples. The screened section felt really smooth, but not so after sample were put.

    Contractor assures that after he does 3 application of pallmann with red/white pads it will feel smoother but never like the screened feel.

    1. Is there any tip you can provide to get a silky/smooth/velvety finish? Can maroon pads be used between application for a velvety finish?

    2. How can I get similar finish on stair handrails where its not possible to use machine?

    Thx.
    -arun

    • Hi Arun,

      Yes the first coat will always feel a bit rough. As you said , it’s due to water popping. This is always sorted out with buffing between the following coats. It should end up smooth like you want if done right. I’m sure your floor guy will know what to do.

      For the handrails it will mean a lot of hand buffing. A lot 🙂

      Hope they turn out well.

      Tadas

  16. Arun says:

    Thanks Tadas. Floors have come out really good, love the feel. I learnt a lot about HWO finish from your site that helped make choices, thanks for the informative site.

    Handrails are turning out challenging. Earlier it was lacquered, and it felt smooth and grippy. Now with Pallmann Oil, it feel rough and slippery. Rough is understandable, but slippery is worrisome, because handrail should provide grip to help you stop a fall.

    Any thoughts on how I can recover this?

    -arun

  17. Charlie says:

    We are trying to decide between Osmo and Magic Oil for our White Oak character floors with Bona Nutmeg stain. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions?

    • Hi Charlie,

      Both finish systems are good and the nutmeg stain will look great under either of them. I would go for the finish your floor guy has more experience with.

      Tadas

  18. Kim says:

    Hi Tadas! Thank you for sharing your knowledge! We are in the process of building our home and have a large venthood cover that is made from rustic walnut. Obviously we can’t run a buffing machine over it but we could get a handheld one for the larger areas and handbuff the more detailed and smaller sides. Is this what you would recommend? I also noticed it’s rated to be used on heated floors so do you think it will hold up with the heat from the cooktop? The hood has about a three foot clearance above the cooktop. Thanks again!

    • Hi Kim,

      That’s a new one for me but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work. Yes you should be able to hand buff. It cures in 24 hours so after that it should be good. Maybe do a test sample first and put it beside the cooktop to see how it performs.

  19. Viktoria parvin says:

    We will use Pallman oil for our white oak floors. First we would fume it to make it gray with Rubio and then use two coats of gray Pallman oil. Do you think it is a good plan? We want that modern gray hardwood look that is so popular these days.

  20. Garry says:

    Great Blog with full effectiveness of furniture Design. Thanks for this Lovely blog.

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