So, you’ve got beautiful new timber floors and want to ensure you maintain their beauty and keep them looking brilliantly fresh for many years?
To properly maintain and get the most life out of your hardwood timber floors they need to be sanded and coated every 6-10 years. When a floor is laid it is finished by sanding it smooth and then applying a coat of protective sealant (coating) that will help shield the floor from scratches, and wear and tear.
You can choose this finish in a few different gloss levels (sheen level) such as matte, satin and gloss finishes.
There are also 3 main options when it comes to the type of finish you can apply, these are:
1. Oil Based (Oil Modified Urethanes or UMO’s)
Oil based coatings combine an oil with a smaller amount of urethane. The urethane portion gives higher durability, the oil portion gives flexibility in the finish and lets the timber “breathe” better. So total durability is medium level. Gloss levels vary from gloss to satin.
These oil based finishes tend to darken the floor a lot with age and their slow drying time of 1–3 days needs to be considered on the job. They have intermediate durability and have good flexibility that is ideal for new timber floors. Oil finishes do smell somewhat on application.
2. Polyurethane (Solvent based)
This coating type provides high durability as well as the highest gloss levels. Gloss levels range from ultra-high gloss to matte. However, there is a strong solvent smell on application and some toxins in the off gasses, so gas masks must be worn to apply finish.
Polyurethane is often selected as it is cheapest and can provide a very high gloss level, and generally provide trouble free application. They can however crack and yellow in the sunlight and can’t be used on brand new timber floors due to their lack of flexibility causing “edge bonding” which causes gapping or splitting in a floor. Polyurethane finishes also do not let the timber breathe as it needs to in higher humidity areas.
3. Water-based Urethane
Arguably as hard wearing as solvent based polyurethane. Water-based poly’s can provide a finish from extra matte right through to glossy. Water-based are the clearest of all finishes. So they don’t go as yellow or darken the timber like oils and polyurethanes do, keeping the timber as natural looking as possible.
These coatings have the least smell and toxicity (sometimes none) and are not prone to edge bonding. These are the latest generation of finish and the best choice. Although the initial outlay may be more expensive then the previous two options, water-based urethane coating is considered a good investment for your timber floors and the health of your family. This is the coating we most commonly use and recommend.
The Mint Floors and Shutters team are experienced in the sanding and coating of floors and can provide expert advice in which finish will best suit your floors. Contact the Mint team to discuss your flooring options today.