Just as there are many manufacturers of paint, there are many different manufacturers of hardened oil. Different brands have different qualities and application methods. Unlike paint, which is applied the same way regardless of brand, application of this type of product can vary greatly from product to product.
Pallmann is a German company, founded in 1900, that has been producing “parquet lacquers” in Europe, since 1949. “Parquet lacquer” is just a fancy term for wood floor finish, but any company that has been producing them since 1949, especially one that developed a waterborne polyurethane in 1982, is not to be trifled with. Pallmann has been selling a hardened oil, Pallmann Magic Oil, in Europe since 2005, so they have more history than most manufacturers in this product type and their oil is well-established and respected in the marketplace, both in the US and abroad.
Why would I choose Pallmann over other brands of hardened oil?
- Extraordinarily short cure time!
Their clear hardened oil (which Pallmann refers to as Neutral) is touch-dry in 30 minutes after application and accepts light foot traffic in 4 HOURS. We thought this was balderdash, until we applied a double coat of Pallmann Magic Oil in our machine maintenance room, and hauled sanding equipment across it four hours after application. This is certainly not what Pallmann meant by “light foot traffic,” so don’t try this at home. But if you need a finish that allows you to access to crucial areas (the refrigerator! the keys you left on that shelf! the bathroom!) within four hours of application, this finish will allow it – not all hardened oils do. But what is still more astonishing is that Pallmann Magic Oil reaches full cure in 12 hours, and in 24 hours for the colors. Think about how this compares to polyurethane – you need to spend at least two days applying three coats and, even under perfect drying conditions, most require 24 hours after the two coating days even before allowing light foot traffic.
- It’s designed to be a two-coat system
Two coats are always better than one. Two hardened coats are even better than that. We think that explains why we have found Pallmann Magic Oil to be tough and scrappy and able to handle heavy foot traffic as well as chemicals and solvents. In this part of the country, our biggest problem is wet, salty, sandy foot traffic in winter. Pallmann resists it like a boss. Also, the two coats can be applied on the same day, one right after the other, so most floors can be completed on the same day they were begun.
- Layered effects
Pallmann calls it their “two-tone” effect. Because Magic Oil is a two-coat system, if you wait at least twelve hours between coats, you can get dramatic, cumulative artistic effects when you use a different color for each coat. A layer of black on day 1 followed by a coat of white on day 2 is intense and theatrical. You must waterpop the wood prior to the first coat to get this to work. Read more about the whole two-tone procedure here (LINK)
- The manufacturer supports coating the product with poly.
It’s not a quick or easy process, but if you change your mind about Magic Oil, you can use a bonding agent and then apply polyurethane over the top. Most other penetrating oil manufacturers won’t even discuss this as an option
- Free stuff!
Every liter of Magic Oil comes with a free 4oz. bottle of their maintenance product, Care and with free shoe covers to wear while you’re coating.
How is Pallmann Magic Oil applied?
Unlike other hardened oil finishes that we carry, Pallmann Magic Oil is applied to wood floors with a trowel -not unlike how grout is applied to a tiled surface. Normally we would have buffed this product into the wood, but the viscosity of the Pallmann Magic Oil is thicker than other brands, so the trowel application really does allow the product to be driven deep into the wood fibers (remember though, bevel-edger floors are the exception: use the buffer in these cases).
Divide you floor up into manageable, 100sqft sections (roughly the size of a small bedroom).
Add hardener to the appropriate amount of oil for total size of your job. The ratio of oil to hardener is 5:1 for Neutral and 4:1 for colors
Start with the section furthest from the exit, use the trowel to spread the Magic oil over the entire section.
Wait ten minutes, but no more than 30 minutes.
Use a buffer with a red pad to remove excess oil. Use a small piece red pad to work the oil along room edges and in corners. When the red pad seems loaded or begin to sling oil around, replace it with a fresh pad (don’t just flip it over – it will coat your pad driver bristles with oil and it won’t hold pads!) Always work backward out of your designated zone so you can erase your footprints.
Also, beware the dreaded “buffer donut!” When you roll the buffer back off the floor, the pad will live a big, pad-shaped imprint of excess oil. Use a piece of the same pad to wipe that imprint off!
After removing excess with the red pad, switch to a white pad and continue to remove excess product. This will require several white pads.
Second coat application can begin immediately after WHITE pad buffing. Apply second coat by repeating steps 1-3. For best results, Pallmann recommends applying the second coat the next day.
LINK Pallmann Magic Oil 2K pdf
Can I apply Magic Oil over my existing finish?
Alas, no. The Magic oil can’t penetrate through a finish coat enough to establish a bond to your floor. So, sand your floor back to completely bare wood (always using sanding best practices – being especially mindful not to sand finer than 120 on any sanding machine. LINK here to Pete’s instructions for best sanding procedures) before using Pallmann Magic Oil.
If I can’t apply Magic Oil over finish, can I at least apply it over a plain stain coat that has no finish over it yet?
Yes, Magic Oil 2K CAN be used over traditional penetrating hardwood floor stains that are fully dry. It is important to keep in mind that when we use Magic Oil over stain, the floor MUST be water popped to allow maximum absorption of the finish. It is equally as important to keep in mind that a stained floor will not accept as much finish, and in some cases, we may only use one application of Magic Oil over the top.
How do you feel about Magic Oil on furniture and countertops?
We adore it on any wood surface that needs protecting – and cured Magic Oil 2K is food safe. You’ll still want to trowel it on when applying it to non-floor surfaces, and if you’ll be rubbing it in by hand, instead of by buffer, you’ll need to put some muscle into it to make sure you get it into the wood grain. Our favorite tip is to save retired credit cards and use them as little “trowels” on small projects. And, even though it’s furniture and we know you want it super smooth, don’t sand it finer than 120 grit or you will prevent the Magic Oil from penetrating properly.
I’m just putting Magic Oil on a little table-do I really need to use the hardener?
You absolutely do – Magic Oil 2K will simply not cure without the hardener. The only time we will use it unhardened is if we are testing for color. The product is sold together with the hardener for good reason: use both parts!
Is Magic Oil non-toxic? And how does it smell?
Like most penetrating oils Magic oil has no added solvents, which is what makes it such an environmentally responsible product! While it is not technically VOC-free, its VOCs are extremely low: 5 grams per liter and 9 grams per liter for colors. As a point of comparison, the lowest VOC level waterborne polyurethane come is at 110 grams per liter! During application, there is a very low odor that smells vaguely like a household cleaner, and once it’s cured, it smells like nothing. It is the ideal product for coating inside in winter. Check out their MSDS here.
If it has such a low VOC level, why do I still need to ventilate during application?
Because Magic Oil is a curing finish (one that forms a permanent solid by combining with oxygen), not just a drying finish, it needs a supply a fresh, outside air to harden. So, make sure you crack a window to create a gentle airflow in the affected rooms.
Do I have to trowel it on?
While we find that trowel application really is the best way to get maximum penetration into the wood, the manufacturer does off the option of applying it with a buffer. So, you can pour the oil into the center opening of the red buffer pad and spread it with buffer. In fact, Pallmann insists that you use this method if you are finishing a floor with beveled edges.
Do I have to use a buffer?
For the oil-removal stages of application, we absolutely think you do. It’s pretty difficult to replicate the weight and RPMs of buffer with just your arms, especially over a large area. So, you risk leaving too much oil on the surface, and leaving too much product on the wood is as problematic as applying too little.
My rental store doesn’t have round buffers, just those 12x18” rectangular kind. Can I use that to buff off the excess oil?
I know it sounds like those should work just like buffers, but we have never been able to make them work for application or removal of any hardwax oil or hardened oil. Use this only as a last resort.
How do spot-fix Magic Oil if I get a stain or a big dent on my floor?
The repair procedure will depend on what kind of damage you have and what color Magic Oil was originally used:
Stain or long scratch across multiple boards in Natural or Neutral:
Isolate the affected boards with blue painter’s tape, use 100 grit until the scratch is erased, cutting back to wood only if necessary. Reapply one coat of hardened oil inside the tape lines. If there is a sheen difference in the area you’ve repaired, use steel wool in the area to rub down the excessive shine.
Stain or long scratch across multiple boards in colored Magic oil:
Isolate affected boards with blue painter’s tape and sand to completely bare wood inside taped lines, being sure to replicate the grit sequence used to sand floor prior to the original Magic Oil application. Reapply two coats of Magic Oil inside the tape lines, following Pallmann’s recommended procedures. If you originally applied both coats on the same day, make sure apply both repair coats in one day as well.
How long do I have to wait before I walk on my Magic Oil floor?
Light foot traffic is acceptable after 4 hours for Neutral and 12 hours for colors. Neutral is fully cured in 12hours, and colors in 24 hours
Other brands of hardened oil recommend a final wipe with rags after buffing with the white pad. Should I do this with Magic Oil?
The problem with rags and Magic Oil is that they can take off too much oil. Because it is so important that the Magic Oil 2K be driven IN to the wood fiber, you want to be careful not to pull it back out, and cloth and towels just absorb too much fresh oil. The more open texture of a white buffer pad, even when doing small areas by hand, is much more effective for the removal stage of this product. Rags just get sticky and leave unsightly wipe marks.
My Magic Oil looked great when I put it on three days ago, but it’s already water-spotting – what’s going on?
There are two common causes for this. The most likely cause, especially if it was your first time using a hardened oil, was not removing enough oil with the white pads. This can happen when you don’t replace your white pads often enough, especially if you are trying to do your oil removal at night or without adequate light. When excess Magic oil is left on the surface of the wood, the leftover wax layer is prone to water rings. If the problem is everywhere, you’ll just use a buffer with a 100 grit screen slowly and gently over the whole floor to try to just remove the excess hardened oil. You are NOT trying to sand it back to bare wood. Then reapply one thin layer of Magic Oil, making sure to let it sit on the wood for a full ten minutes. And then be sure to buff it off thoroughly this time! If you just have a few problem areas, use a green, 3M scrubby and sand back just the affected areas – you may not even have to add back any oil – just bring it down to the level of the rest of the correctly applied finish.
The other cause is that the wood was finished with too fine a grit (anything finer than 100 grit on your main sanding machine and edger or finer than a 120 grit screen on the buffer will close the grain too much for this finish to bond properly), and the Magic Oil is sitting on top of the wood because it couldn’t soak into the over-smooth wood surface. The solution is the same as for fixing inadequate oil removal as described above.
I applied the Magic Oil according to the directions, but the coats look streaky and mottled and the sheen is inconsistent. Did I get a bad batch of oil?
Not to sound like a company shill, but we have yet to see a bad batch of anything from this manufacturer. And when we hear the words “streaky” or “mottled” that is a telltale hallmark of grit-skipping during the sanding sequence. When deeper scratches from the early stages of sanding are not removed by the proper order of carefully calibrated grits, those deep scratches can catch and hold a lot of excess oil. But the oil doesn’t truly penetrate – it just pools in the voids left by the sander. These deep pockets of oil don’t cure properly, and they don’t look the same as the adjacent areas where the oil may have penetrated properly. Hence the lack of uniformity. Alas, this is not a problem that is easy to fix. The best solution is to fully resand the floor, making sure that no grits are skipped (LINK here to best sanding grit sequences), that nothing finer than 100 grit is used on main sander or edger, and nothing finer than 120 on a buffer.
A photo for every color of oil
Photos of Black on White, Black on Grey, and White on Grey
Photo of application trowel