Pallmann: The best hardened oil finish
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.
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 one followed by a coat of white on day two is intense and theatrical. You must waterpop the wood prior to the first coat to get this to work.
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.
Easy-Peasy maintenance products.
Maintenance is as simple as spraying on their diluted Pallmann Magic Oil Care, wiping it with a damp microfiber and leaving it alone for 4 hours. So simple it counts as fun.
How is Pallmann Magic Oil applied?
Pallmann can be applied with a buffer or a trowel – not unlike how grout is applied to a tiled surface. We find it easier on the body to apply with a buffer – Pallmann supports either method.
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). If you find that a metal trowel is scratching your floor, a rubber window squeegee is a great alternative.
- Divide your 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.
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-grit on any sanding machine.
Read Pete’s Sanding a wood floor is a multi-step process 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.
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?
You don’t HAVE to trowel it on; 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 12×18” 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 I 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 12 hours, 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.
How do I clean and maintain my Magic Oiled floor?
This is one of our favorite aspects of Magic Oil – their maintenance program is straightforward and easy.
You’ll clean your floor as often as necessary with the Pallmann Hardwood Floor Cleaner.
But every year, you should apply a coat of the Pallmann Magic Oil Care to restore protection and sheen.
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 sandpaper. 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 in the grit sequence, that nothing finer than 100-grit is used on main sander or edger, and nothing finer than 120-grit on a buffer.
Pallmann Magic Oil Colors
Pete’s Bonus Tips
What you should know about modern waterborne finishes.
Waterborne finishes have improved exponentially since they first appeared on the market.
Modern air quality regulations have encouraged manufacturers of waterborne polyurethane to step up their game.
Waterborne finishes are much more resistant to wear and solvents than they were even 15 years ago (please note that we're referring to respected finish manufacturers; inexpensive, big-box store waterborne finishes can still perform poorly).
They are also much less prone to foaming and will level better than they used to.
So, don't just categorically dismiss this class of finishes, but make a educated decision based on what we do know about them.
Five things to know about waterborne finishes
- Waterborne finishes, unless their container says otherwise, have no color. None. Especially compared to oil-based polyurethane. Even Amberseal can't warm a floor up as well as oil poly. There are ways to get around this - read about Bona's oil-based Dri-Fast Sealer designed for use under their line of waterborne finishes.
- You don't need to use a respirator for the waterborne finshes we sell, but that doesn't mean they don't contain toxic solvents. They just contain smaller quantities of them. People who are respiratorially sensitive or pregnant should still stay out of the property during the coating process.
- Waterborne finishes clean up with water; don't use paint thinner, turpentine or alcohol.
- Waterborne finishes are more weather-sensitive than solvent finishes. You'll find that waterbased finishes will take longer to dry in humid weather, but set up with disturbing speed on those hot, dry windy days.
- Don't let your waterborne finish freeze! Once it freezes, it's ruined.
Use Pallmann hardener when making samples!
A FRIENDLY BUT STERN WARNING:
Pallmann Magic Oil requires the use of a hardener that is sold with the product, but only when you buy it in liters. The 75 mL Pallmann Magic Oil testers are sold without hardener, because Pallmann maintains that it does not change or affect the color of the Magic Oil, which means you should be able to evaluate samples without using the hardener.
But we have found this slightly problematic for two reasons:
- If you are trying to achieve one of Pallmann’s layered effects, the colors that they refer to as “Two Tone” you must use the Pallmann Midnight Frost Pallmann Magic Oil Part A AND the Part B Hardener to make your samples (the example of their Two Tone Midnight Frost is above). If you do not, the two different color layers merge into one muddy layer. To get accurate results you must wait 12 hours between layers, and you must use the hardener for each layer.
- Even if you are evaluating a single color or a blended oil color, you must still apply two oats, and you will get a much more accurate preview of the product’s sheen and depth if you use the hardener for your samples.
The pucks that Pallmann sells DO NOT INCLUDE THE PART B HARDENER! But you can scoot over here and add one to your cart.