Finishing and Maintaining your Hardwood Floor
- Protecting the Floor
- Water Based Lacquers
- Maintaining Lacquered Floors
- Hardwax Oiled Finishes & Maintenance
English Timbers unfinished hardwood floors require sanding and sealing after installation. This method produces a continuous surface seal which is easy to clean and the most natural appearance. It also gives the customer control over the type of finish E.g. Matt, Satin, Water based or Oiled, Stained etc. The process of sanding and sealing is reasonably rapid provided the correct machines are used. Care should be taken to adopt all safety measures and wear the necessary protective clothing/masks etc. The information below is guideline only and more comprehensive instructions are provided with the floor.
Sanding Wooden Floors
Initial sanding is done with a large floor sander using progressively finer grits for a smooth finish. Edges of the floor are sanded with a rotary edge sander and sometimes with a 4 belt sander. Corners are often scraped and sanded by hand. The overall floor may be finished with a large rotary floor sander. Modern machines have good dust extraction and keep the site reasonably clean. They can all be hired if necessary. Sanding between coats need only be sufficient to flatten any raised grain and remove any nibs. This can be done with a hand held orbital or finishing sander for small areas or a large upright orbital or finishing sander or rotary sander as dictated by area. Be sure to remove all dust from the floor and walls with a powerful vacuum cleaner before applying lacquer. A final wipe over with a damp cloth before using water based seals removes all dust.
It is essential to apply a hard wearing finish to the surface of the flooring to protect the wood and permit easy maintenance. There are a number of different methods:-
By applying a surface coating of acrylic or polyurethane in the form of a water or solvent based lacquer.
By applying a hard wax oil finish which soaks into the top layer of the wood.
Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages and these are listed in the appropriate section below.
The type and grade of lacquer is dictated by the end use and amount of traffic and we recommend the Junkers range of products. These are contract duty and not DIY finishes and as such are high quality, proven products. It is false a economy to buy a good quality floor and use a cheap or unproven finish. Most failures of floor finishes are due to a poor quality lacquer or incorrect application.
We mostly recommend water based lacquers. They are easier to use and comply with current safety regulations. In addition they are faster drying - about 1 to 2 hours between coats, easy to apply and extremely tough and durable.
Provided that the correct finish is chosen and competently applied and the floor is regularly maintained it should remain in excellent condition for many years. If you are in doubt about the type of finish, please call us for advice. The current range of sealers is:-
Junkers Profinish is a one part acrylic/polyurethane lacquer which has the advantage of being virtually colour neutral. It maintains the colour of the whiter timbers without significant yellowing. It is tough and easy to apply. Suitable for domestic and light/medium commercial flooring. Apply 3 coats for normal use, 4 coats where extra wear is expected. Available as Matt finish only.
Junkers HP is a two part polyurethane lacquer which is designed primarily for contract and heavy use.
We stock the matt finish which gives the appearance of an oiled floor with a very slight sheen. It has the advantage of much less maintenance than the oiled finish. The lacquer dries & cures quickly and is extremely tough and resistant to wear. It is generally colour neutral and does not yellow or darken the timber as would a standard oil finish. Suitable for very heavy commercial floors.
As a guideline, apply a minimum of 2 coats for domestic, 3 for normal commercial duty & 4 for very heavy traffic. However we suggest a minimum of 3 coats to give a good finish.
Water based lacquers are easy to apply and maintain, non toxic and they preserve the natural colour of the timber better than solvent based sealers or oils which darken the timber. They may be applied with a short pile, synthetic lambs wool pad and applicator or a special roller. They are lightly sanded between each coat.
The process is quick and easy to master. The drying time between each coat is about 3 to 4 hours and the finished floor will take light foot traffic after about 8 hours. Apply a maximum of 2 coats per day. Junkers HP is fully cured within 72 hours of applying the last coat, others take a bit longer. All these times quoted assume an ambient temperature of about 20 Centigrade and good ventilation. Full instructions are provided.
The coverage rate for both products is about 10 sq.m per litre per coat.
Please refer to the product data sheets for best practice.
Firstly provide a barrier mat between any external door and areas of hardwood flooring. This prevents any abrasive material being carried on to the floor. We suggest that one of the more modern mats is used and not the coir fibre type as they are difficult to clean and collect dirt.
Minimum maintenance would be to vacuum up all dust & clean with a neutral detergent such as Junckers Sylva Cleaner which may be applied with a well rung mop or cloth.
General Method for Domestic Wood Floors & Light Duty Commercial Floors.
Weekly - Vacuum up loose dust regularly. Clean the floor with Sylva Cleaner using a damp cloth or sponge mop. Remove excess moisture and wipe up spills quickly.
Long Term - The floor may need an additional coat of lacquer at some point in the future - well before the bare wood is exposed. Clean off any Sylva cleaner with Sylva Neutralizer, lightly sand and apply a fresh coat of lacquer.
For larger and commercial wood floors - please request a maitenance schedule from Junkers.
Junckers Hardwax Oil Finish
There are a number of oils & wax oils on the market. We have decided to recommend the Junckers Hardwax Oil because it produces a high quality, proven finish which dries and cures much faster than most of its competitors.
It is easy to apply and is environmentally friendly. Unlike the water based sealers, the oils soak into the surface of the hardwood flooring to create a finish which some customers feel is more natural than a polyurethane. However virtually all waxoil finishes require more maintenance than polyurethanes.
Apply 2 coats for light usage and 3 for high traffic areas.
Coverage is 20 to 30 sq.m. per litre per coat. Supplied in 2.5 litre tins.
A pleasing natural finish.
Easy to maintain, especially where localized areas are subject to increased wear. There is no need to sand off the old finish. Localized scratches are easily repaired and this makes the finish particularly suitable for areas where pets scratch the surface. Similarly it can be used in commercial areas where pedestrian traffic regularly regularly scratches the surface yet a high quality finish must be maintained. E.g.. Shops. However the maintenance must be regular and thorough and drying and curing times may conflict with the hours of use.
Longer curing times than water based lacquers- about 6 days at 20C. This is much less than many of its competitors oils which can take up to 3 weeks.
Increased frequency of maintenance is required.
Timbers treated with oils are much darker than the same timbers treated with water based lacquers. This may be acceptable or even preferable with darker woods, but it may not be suitable for the lighter woods such as ash. maple or oak.
Maintenance of Oiled Hardwood Floors
Please refer to the mainenance section above for lacquers for washing and cleaning.
Localised scratches may be repaired using the oil applied with a cloth and allowed to dry.
Well used areas may require a fresh coat of oil every 3 to 12 months. Commercial areas may need more frequent applications and Junkers will help with a maintenance schedule.
SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS - There is always a fire risk when using oil finishes. All rags, mops and oil soaked items should be immersed and left in a bucket of water immediately after use. There is always a danger of spontaneous combustion of residues as the oil cures and this is a serious risk. Always follow the manufacturers instructions.
Staining of Wood Floors
Staining is not normally recommended because the stain is only a surface coating. If the surface seal is worn away due to lack of maintenance, the natural colour of the wood will be exposed. However with careful maintenance and perhaps additional coats of surface finish, this can be prevented. We recommend a spirit or alcohol based stain because they dry quickly and are not affected by sealers, but require care and good ventilation during application. They require reasonable skill to apply and professional advice should be sought. Oiled floors may be stained by using a base coat of coloured oil, however the choice of colours and shades is limited.
There are a number of special finishes which can be applied to achieve unusual effects. Some may be quite complex and difficult to apply Eg. Hand antiquing or sand blasting.
Health & Safety (Refer to COSHH information.)
Always ensure that the recommended manufacturers instructions and safety guidelines are followed & adequate protective clothing is worn where specified.