Wood Flooring Finishes
Surface Wood Floor 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. Any one of the surface finishes are appropriate for the kitchen.
Types of Wood Floor Finishes
1. Oil-modified urethane is generally the most common surface finish and is easy to apply. It is a petroleum base with a blend of synthetic resins, plasticizers and other film forming ingredients that produces a durable surface that is moisture-resistant. It is a solvent-base polyurethane that dries in about eight hours. This type of finish ambers with age. and comes in different sheen levels.
2. Moisture-cured urethane is a solvent-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.
Curing of this type of finish is by absorbing minute quantities of moisture vapor from the air, which causes them to dry and harden. The curing process is very dependant on relative humidity.
3. Water-based urethane is a water-borne urethane with a blend of synthetic resins, plasticizers and other film forming ingredients that produces a durable surface that is moisture-resistant. These finishes are clear and non-yellowing and are different sheen levels. 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.
4. Converstion-Varnish Sealers-(Swedish Finishes)- A two-component acid-curing, alcohol-based sealers. Because of their origin (country), conversion varnish sealers are often referred to as Swedish finishes
5. Penetrating Sealers – These sealers are spread on the floor and allowed to penetrate and are solvent based. The excess sealer is removed with rags or buffed in with synthetic or steel wool pads. This type of finish often have a color and can be used to stain and seal the wood floor. Penetrating Oil Sealers are made from tung or linseed oil, with additives improve drying and hardness.
6. Paste 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. Wax is spread in thin coats for a surface protection after the stain and/or sealer is applied, then buffed to the desired sheen.
7. Varnish- Vinyl-alkyd varnishes have superseded natural varnish made from vegetable oils. This product was commonly used before urethane finishes where introduced.
8. Lacquer – The flammability and incompatibility of this floor finish is NOT a recommended by many manufacturers. This finish should avoided.
9. Shellac – This product (natural shellac) contains wax and is not widely used for top coating in today’s wood flooring market. Dewaxed shellac is becoming used more and more for a wood floor sealer.
Commonly used wood floor finishes
Prefinished Hardwood Flooring (Wood floors that have been factory finished before they are installed)
1. Acrylic Impregnated – Acrylic monomers are injected into the cell structure of the wood to give increased hardness and then finished with a wear layer over the wood.
2. Acrylic-urethane – Has a slightly different chemical make up than polyurethane, but with similar benefits.
3. Aluminum Oxide – particles added to the polyurethane finish to increase the abrasion resistance of the wear layer. This has become extremely popular on the better grades of hardwood floors.
4. Ceramic – Advanced finish technology that allows the use of space-age ceramics to increase the abrasion resistance of the wear layer.
5. Polyurethane – A clear, tough and durable finish that is applied as a wear layer.
6. UV-cured – these floors are finished at the factory and the polyurethane finish are cured with Ultra Violet lights instead of using heat.
Floor Covering World. Wood Flooring Finishes. 2010. http://www.floorcoveringworld.com/wood-flooring-finishes/wood-flooring-finishes/