Choosing a Floor Finish

There are several important factors to consider when choosing a floor finish. Too much solid, for instance, will make it difficult to apply, and it may not be resistant to abrasions. A new Toledo-based technology has been developed that combines larger polymer particles with a low-viscosity, high-solids content. This combination is intended to improve the performance and look of floor finish. Larger molecules also have a higher melting point and are less likely to cause bubbles, which are a problem for some floor finishes.

The most common surface finish is oil-modified urethane, which is relatively easy to apply. Oil-modified urethane consists of a petroleum base, plasticizers, and other film-forming ingredients. This polyurethane dries quickly, and is available in several sheen levels, including satin. To protect a floor from abrasion, you should avoid using high heels and golf spikes. High-heeled shoes will chip the floor finish, while tracked-in sand will wear it away.

The chemistry of a floor finish will determine how durable it will be under heavy foot traffic. Hard finishes require less maintenance than soft finishes, but they may need frequent burnishing or buffing. If a facility is prone to high foot traffic, a high-solid floor finish is a good choice. These finishes are more durable, requiring fewer coats and less labor. For facilities that receive high foot traffic, choosing a high-solids floor finish will save you time and money.

Shellac is another popular finish for floors, but it requires regular maintenance. It should be applied with wax or a sealer. It’s cheap, easy to apply, and fast-drying. With proper care, it can last a lifetime. Paste wax is a system in the wood that dries quickly. But it isn’t as durable as a polyurethane finish, and it’s susceptible to water, alcohol, and ammonia.

A water-based polyurethane is an option for those who want a more durable floor finish than an oil-based one. While this product may look milky in the can, it dries clear and resists yellowing over time. Generally, homeowners prefer a water-based polyurethane sealer, but you can also find satin and semi-gloss finishes. Water-based polyurethanes are easy to maintain and require little effort on your part. You can typically mop the floor with a damp mop. However, waxing can dull the floor finish and may require additional steps.

The type of floor finish you choose will depend on the aesthetic you are trying to achieve. There are many different types of finishes, and you can mix them to create the look you want. Oil-based polyurethanes, for example, have a high gloss appearance. However, this finish is also very high-volatility (VOC)-containing, meaning it must be dried thoroughly between coats to avoid a sticky buildup.

A penetrating oil sealer penetrates the wood pores, bringing out the grain without adding a high gloss. This type of oil sealer is not suitable for high-traffic areas, but it is ideal for antique wood floors. The disadvantage is that it has a high VOC content, and it takes about 60 days to fully cure. The upside of penetrating oil sealers is that they do not require waxing, and they don’t give your floor a hard finish.