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Thread: Hardwood flooring finishing - best product(s) to use?

  1. #1

    Hardwood flooring finishing - best product(s) to use?

    Hi,

    We are getting ready to sand and finish our hardwood flooring in the kitchen and entire house. The home has original 50 year old white oak, 2" tongue and groove style - 3/4" thick, which we will be renting a flooring sander for, and then finish. The kitchen also will have white oak t and g, brand new - newly installed.

    We would like a product that does not yellow over time, and are looking for clear coat, not stained or colored in any, we just want the natural wood to show through.

    What would be the best product to finish the floor? Oil based? Water based? Any particult brand that will stand up to time and high traffic? Maybe a clear epoxy type?

    I also remember watching an episode on Ask This Old House about a year ago, can't remember the date, but they went through the entire process of sanding and finishing a hardwood floor, and recommended I think a two step product but I can't remember the manufacturer, anyone know what kind of coating they used?

    Thanks for any tips or info.

  2. #2
    If you want something that won't yellow then you pretty much have to go with a waterborne finish. I've had good luck with the Bona Kemi line of finishes, the Bona Naturale and Bona Traffic are both high traffic non scratching finishes.

    You can go even more durable but then you end up with something that looks like you could play basketball on it and, well in my opinion, that just doesn't look very appealing in a home.

    One thing I will say is that the really clear finishes really don't highlight the natural beauty of the wood. I would recommend that you look at Bona's Amberseal product (as the name suggests, it is a sealer not a finish) to lay under the top coat, it will have the effect of highlighting the grain that would otherwise wash away under a clear finish.

    Either way, waterborne is the way to go. Low VOC and the flash time is so quick that you can get 2 or 3 coats down in one day, depending on the conditions. It's really durable as well, I've had this in my house for years now with kids, dogs, and people rarely taking their shoes off and the floors (red oak) still look great. I would definitely go with Bona again.

  3. #3
    I just finished doing my floors and I used the streetshoe which is supposed to be the bona traffic competitor. Like was said, it is a waterborne finish and went down pretty clear. It was definitely nice as I got my 2 coats down by 2 pm (starting at 7 am). I only finished last weekend, so I can't really comment on the durability, but so far it looks really nice (I need to post some pictures soon).

  4. #4
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    Sean, have you ever done this before? Have you looked at the equipment you're going to rent? While this is not rocket science, experience plays a big role in how well you will do. It's not fun when you get in way over your head and have to live in the environment while you wrestle with mistakes. I hope you really do your homework. Good luck, Phil.
    Phil in Big D
    The only difference between a taxidermist and the taxman, is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. Mark Twain

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Nolan View Post
    If you want something that won't yellow then you pretty much have to go with a waterborne finish. I've had good luck with the Bona Kemi line of finishes, the Bona Naturale and Bona Traffic are both high traffic non scratching finishes.

    You can go even more durable but then you end up with something that looks like you could play basketball on it and, well in my opinion, that just doesn't look very appealing in a home.

    One thing I will say is that the really clear finishes really don't highlight the natural beauty of the wood. I would recommend that you look at Bona's Amberseal product (as the name suggests, it is a sealer not a finish) to lay under the top coat, it will have the effect of highlighting the grain that would otherwise wash away under a clear finish.

    Either way, waterborne is the way to go. Low VOC and the flash time is so quick that you can get 2 or 3 coats down in one day, depending on the conditions. It's really durable as well, I've had this in my house for years now with kids, dogs, and people rarely taking their shoes off and the floors (red oak) still look great. I would definitely go with Bona again.
    +1 I installed an oak floor in my workshop over the concrete and used a Bona clear finish. I had a few mess ups with the finish, but they were minor and I feel very good about the end product.

  6. #6
    Thanks for all your advice, sounds like Bona Kemi and Street Shoe are the best brands. Yes Thanks Phil I do my homework before starting, usually ruminate for weeks and weeks before I start a project to make sure i get it right.

  7. #7
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    If you are looking for a non-yellowing product you need to be careful. While most waterborne acrylic non-floor finishes are water clear, many manufacturers of waterborne acrylic floor finishes add an amber dye. They do this to mimic the warming affect of an oil based floor finish.

    So, be sure to find out if the finish you choose has had a dye added to it.

    I strongly recommend you apply your chosen finish to some scrap material. That's the only way to tell how it will actually look on your floor. If you don't have scrap, apply it to an inconspicuous area.

    Finally, be aware that new flooring will not look like old flooring. There will probably be a distinct difference between your old sanded floors and a new wood floor.
    Last edited by Howard Acheson; 12-19-2009 at 12:11 PM.
    Howie.........

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Rainaldi View Post
    Thanks for all your advice, sounds like Bona Kemi and Street Shoe are the best brands. Yes Thanks Phil I do my homework before starting, usually ruminate for weeks and weeks before I start a project to make sure i get it right.
    Pay close attention to the sheen of the Bona product. Their semi-gloss is a satin and the satin is really low luster. Look at the samples before you choose.
    Phil in Big D
    The only difference between a taxidermist and the taxman, is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. Mark Twain

  9. #9
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    I own a hardwood flooring business. Both Traffic and Street Shoe are excellent. The one we had been using more than anything else is LNL 1500 by Absolute coatings. It has aluminum oxide in it and the only finish to come with a 15 year wear through warranty. (although the warranty itself is pretty useless, will only cover material) Anyway, it is the only one of the group that does require cross linking which means less waste. Just as durable if not more than the others.

    Of course my personal favorite is Synteko Natural, which is a synthetic penetrating / hardening oil. Its the most natural looking and feeling product b/c it doesn't leave a plastic film on top of the wood. Instead it penetrates and hardens in the wood fiber. Its the only penetrating oil that I am aware of that contains no waxes and is just about 100% solids. By eleminating the surface film (polyurethan) you eliminate the surface scratches associated with that film. Application is totally different than the other products. The idea is to let the product sit on the wood for 20 mins and buff off excess. Repeat.

  10. #10
    The info about Synteko Natural is really interesting... I'm going to refinish my floors in the spring because I really don't like the water white clear that the Bona finishes give, despite their great performance. I'm going to look into this product for sure. thanks.

  11. #11
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    Ooops, in my last post I meant to say LNL 1500 does NOT require cross linking....

    Yes, the Synteko Natural is fantastic. We use a buffer to spread the oil with a red pad. Thin coats is the trick. Don't let the product build a film! Always buff off excess! 2 coats is enough on oak if you let is soak for 20 mins. a 3rd will give a little more sheen, but take care to always buff off excess.

  12. #12
    Thanks so much Zsolt paul for that Info I will take a look at it. I am revisiting this finishing problem, my neighbor who is a finish carpenter told me to stay away from the water based finishes on floors and go with oil instead, because water based finishes for floors are harder, show up scratches and dents more and are not flexible, and oils are more flexible and take the abuse and traffic better. Any thoughts on this?

    And the Synteko Natural, am I to assume that most oil based floor finishes are linseed oil based, Synteko Natural product is not linseed based? How would it compare to both clearness and durability to organic oil finishes? And water based for that matter?

    When you said
    Just as durable if not more than the others.
    were you comparing that to water based, or natural oils? Or both?

    Also, for buffing, can I use the garden variety Home Depot floor sander rental unit with buffing wheels instead of sand paper to buff it out?

    Oh I forgot, what is the finest grit you would recommend that I sand with prior to applying finish?

    I ask this because the finest grit pads HD sells with their floor sander unit rentals is 100 grit, at least that's the finest grit my local HD carries...

  13. #13
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    PHP Code:
    Sean Rainaldi;1306409]Thanks so much Zsolt paul for that Info I will take a look at itI am revisiting this finishing problemmy neighbor who is a finish carpenter told me to stay away from the water based finishes on floors and go with oil insteadbecause water based finishes for floors are hardershow up scratches and dents more and are not flexible, and oils are more flexible and take the abuse and traffic betterAny thoughts on this
    Not all water based finishes are created equal. I like LNL 1500 (aluminum oxide water based poly), Traffic, Street Shoe. These and products similar to there will hold up better in terms of resistance to abrasion, which is traffic of course. It is true that they are less elastic than oil, but that has more to do with impact and/or expansion and contraction of boards which sometimes results in white edges on dark stains. However, purely from durability stand point, they are more durable than oil in my opinion.

    PHP Code:
     And the Synteko Naturalam I to assume that most oil based floor finishes are linseed oil basedSynteko Natural product is not linseed basedHow would it compare to both clearness and durability to organic oil finishes? And water based for that matter
    Oil based polyurethanes are not linseed oil based. I was talking about other penetrating oils. Synteko is not linseed oil based indeed. It is an alkyd with high solids. No wax, no vegetable oil. Same appearance, but far more durability than "organic" penetrating oils.

    PHP Code:
    When you said were you comparing that to water based, or natural oils? Or both
    Both

    PHP Code:
    Also, for buffingcan I use the garden variety Home Depot floor sander rental unit with buffing wheels instead of sand paper to buff it out
    HD floor sander? Do you mean buffer? You can use any buffer that is about 175 rpm's. Use a red pad first, then a white pad or terry cloth for buffing out the Synteko natural.

    PHP Code:
    Oh I forgotwhat is the finest grit you would recommend that I sand with prior to applying finish
    For synteko: 100 grit

    I ask this because the finest grit pads HD sells with their floor sander unit rentals is 100 grit, at least that's the finest grit my local HD carries...
    Vytek 5151 FXB 100W, Adobe CS5 (Illustrator + Photoshop), Photograv 3.0, Laserworx (signlab)

  14. #14
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    What is the best finish? A relative term really, as you can't have your cake and eat it too. Water-based finishes are nice because they don't stink, and they dry quickly. Swedish finishes will wear longer and yellow less, but they are noxious while wet and take a couple weeks for the smell to leave. IMO, swedish finishes are the best for looks and wear, but they are also illegal in some states.

  15. #15
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    Zsolt Paul,

    You said "Oil based polyurethanes are not linseed oil based."

    Almost ALL polyurethane varnishes are linseed oil based. Linseed oil is combined with urethane resins and cooked in the absence of oxygen to create a new molecule we call VARNISH.

    As for the Synteko not using linseed oil here's what their MSDS says:

    The preparation is not classified as dangerous according to Directive 1999/45/EC and its amendments.
    Classification:
    Not classified
    Human health hazards
    --
    Fire hazards:
    Not flammable
    Contains drying oil. Risk of selfignition. Collect and keep spillages, used rags etc in fireproof container and destruct.



    Linseed oil would be my guess as to the drying oil used; they are very vague in all their MSDS sheets.
    Last edited by Scott Holmes; 01-25-2010 at 12:20 AM.
    Scott

    Finishing is an 'Art & a Science'. Actually, it is a process. You must understand the properties and tendencies of the finish you are using. You must know the proper steps and techniques, then you must execute them properly.

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