This is a brief introduction to floor finishes and ongoing maintenance. Like it or not! all timber floors will pit and scratch over time. Any hardwood floor is an expensive investment to have supplied and fitted, you are bound to be overprotective of your new floors initially.
Let’s not forget, a floor is a floor, not a piece of fine furniture. That being said there are measures you can take to keep your floor looking attractive with a continuation of good service for years to come. Most people look at the character of an aged floor with admiration of age gone by. We call this the patina of age. As well as wearing in, a floor can change colour over time due to the effect of ultraviolet rays reacting with the Lignon in the timber.
The extent of this will depend on the species. Floor finishes can also be affected by ultraviolet adding to the overall effect.
Your floor needs to be protected from water, dust, grit and heat.
Water causes decay, staining and structural problems.
Dust is abrasive and will encourage water penetration.
Grit will scratch and pit your floor.
If you have wood floors over underfloor heating, make sure any rugs or scatter mats are suitable to let the heat flow through.
Failing to do so may cause your floor to bake and fail.
Chair and table legs should be fitted with protective pads to stop scratching of the floor.
Caster cups should be placed under furniture caster wheels.
Pet accidents should be cleaned up immediately to prevent ammonia from burning through to the floor.
Tread mats to be placed at external entrances to protect the floor from water and grit.
Stiletto heels damage wood floors.
There are three main types of floor finish widely used, Wax’s, Oil’s and lacquers
Wax is the old fashioned way of finishing a floor once sealed with an appropriate sealer. Replenishment is required on a strict regime to ensure a satisfactory look and protection of the floor with buffing every two weeks or so. This is a very labour intensive way to look after your floor and expensive if you are paying out for this to be done. Maintenance on a waxed floor is usually done using liquid wax. Johnson’s Liquid wax is probably the most well known. The main drawback of using wax is its tendency to hold into grit and dust. Water droplets falling onto a waxed floor leave small with chalky deposits which can be annoying. In between waxing the floor will need dusting or vacuuming to keep the dust down.
Lacquers are a wear layer in their own right with different manufacturers quoting table ratings of wear derived from mechanical testing.
Be aware of cheaper products as this test is easy to manipulate. The old saying holds true, you get what you pay for and saving a small amount of money per meter square can become a false economy in no time at all. Some lacquers are harder wearing than others but eventually, all will scratch and become pitted over time. Most cleaners for lacquered floors are neutral liquids that offer no added protection to the floor making it necessary to apply other maintenance products to protect the lacquer finish.
Oils and Hardwax Oils
Oils are the industry leader in today’s market but have been used as traditional finished for many years. The most common being Teak oil, Tongue oil and Linseed oil used in a natural state. Linseed oil came as raw or boiled. These oils were very good you use but the drawback was the oily build up that in the case of wood flooring attracted dust and often stayed to its oily state.
Hardwax Oils are the modern-day modified oils formulated as a mixture of different oils with minerals added as solid content to make the oil dry to a harder wearing surface. Oils are considered to be a natural finish in comparison with lacquers and are more Eco friendly. Soap wash and maintenance oils are used to clean and polish adding protection as time goes on.
It is important to make sure that the correct maintenance products are used as specified by the manufacturer of the floor finish you have used.
An example of the reason for this let’s consider Treatex Hardwax Oil. The initial application to the floor is two coats of oil applied by brush, trowel or roller. If you use Treatex soap wash or polish you can apply further coats of oil in the future by simply washing the floor, allowing to dry and applying the oil. If you were to use a maintenance product supplied by another manufacturer there might be substances in that product that are not compatible with further coats of Treatex Oil and problems such as flaking of the floor surface could occur resulting in the need of expensive and intrusive re-sanding work.