Wood Floor Finishes create
lasting beauty and requires minimal care with today's modern
technology in wood floor finish products. The right finish
protects wood flooring from wear, dirt and moisture while
giving the wood an attractive color and sheen. Today most wood
floors are finished with a stain and a top coat. Technology
has provided a wide selection of wood flooring finishes, each
with its own distinct benefits and appearances.
Surface Finishes - Surface finishes are very popular today because they are durable, water-resistant and require minimal maintenance. Surface finishes are blends of synthetic resins. These finishes most often referred to as urethanes or polyurethane's remain on the surface of the wood and form a protective coating. They are generally available in high-gloss, semi-gloss, satin and matte.
There are basically five (5) main types of surface finishes:
1.Oil-modified urethane is generally the most common surface finish and is easy to apply. It is a solvent-base polyurethane that dries in about eight hours. This type of finish ambers with age.
2.Moisture-cure urethane is a water-base polyurethane that is more durable and more moisture resistant than other surface finishes. Moisture-cure urethane comes in non-yellowing and in ambering types and is generally available in satin or gloss. These finishes are extremely difficult to apply, have a strong odor and are best left to the professional.
3.Swedish finish or acid cure urethane is a clear and fast drying finish. It is durable and non-yellowing. These finishes have an extremely strong odor and should be applied by the highly skilled wood flooring professional.
4.Water-based urethane is a waterborne urethane that dries by water evaporation. These finishes are clear and non-yellowing. They have a milder odor than oil-modified finishes have and they dry in about two to three hours. Water-based urethanes are generally more expensive.
5.Alumiunum Oxide Finishes- The newest in wood floor finishes offers a long lasting more durable coating than past wood floor finishes. These finishes carry a limited 25 year wear warranties, and are available on most major prefinished wood floors. These finishes are not available to the general public.
Wax- The oldest, and in some ways the best. Wax is the easiest to apply, least expensive, fastest drying, easiest to repair, and with proper care will survive forever. Wax over a penetrating stain, and the system is in the wood so you wear the wood, not the finish. Proper care involves maintenance with colored waxes. Water will spot the waxed surface and must be removed (or prevented). Buffing is required. Periodically, wax must be added, and this conjures up the memory of Grandma on her knees.
CUSTOM FINISHES "Custom," by definition, means performed to individual specifications. Custom finishing of wood floors is performed in the home on the completely installed new floor, or to refurbish a previously finished floor. Custom finishing permits the decorator and owner to select from a full range of color and surface types', from shine to sheen, not being restricted to factory-selected.
What type of finish do you have?
Here are some simple steps to help you determine if the finish is a wax finish, shellac or varnish finish or a surface finish. If the floor was installed, or last serviced, before the mid '60s, you should assume the finish used was varnish or shellac. To determine this, scratch the surface with a coin or other sharp object in a corner or other inconspicuous space. If the finish flakes, it is probably shellac or varnish. Shellac and varnish are rarely used anymore and require full sanding to remove before application of a surface finish or wax finish.
Next, check the floor for wax finish. In an inconspicuous area, corner or behind a door, apply two(2) drops of water. If, within ten minutes, white spots appear under the drops of water, the floor has a wax finish. To remove the white spots, gently rub the spots with steel wool dampened with wax.
If the finish does not flake from scratching with a coin and white spots do not appear from the drops of water, the floor has a surface finish and should be maintained accordingly.