Finishes: How to choose the right one for YOU

1. What does a Finish do?

When I talk of a Finish of a Hardwood Floor, I am referring to a product which would protect the actual exposed floor timber for the elements, wear & tear and other. Timber, by it’s nature, is very porous and will collect all dirt, dust and other abrasive materials which end up on it. Also, as we all know, any liquids will also be absorbed if left too long. The finish product is able to prevent or slow down the ingress of such materials into your timber, allowing one to easily clean and maintain your floor.

2. What is your traffic like?

Each house or building will have it’s own set of conditions, and it is important to consider what this will be. Each finish product will be rated to take a certain type of traffic: domestic, commercial, etc. It is important to consider where your specific requirements are. For example a household with young kids and a couple of dogs, will be much more abrasive traffic than a Boutique Fashion Shop. There are also different maintenance procedures and cycles for various finishes that need to be considered. Public spaces and hospitality industry cannot close down for a week for refinishing, but may be able to run a continuous maintenance program. Typically in private homes we want low maintenance finishes and would then prefer a once in ten year re-finish.

3. What are the options?

Most floor finishes can be classified as one of the following:

  1. Solvent based Varnishes
  2. Water based Varnishes
  3. Oils

Solvent based Varnishes are the typical “old-fashioned” floor varnishes and are generally known by the very strong smell when applied. Water based varnishes are the modern version and tend to be more health and eco sensitive. Both types are varnishes form a very hard layer or skin over the timber, preventing dirt and fluids from entering the open pores. Oils are the oldest form of protection for floors and, despite higher maintenance, still are used today due to the beauty and ruggedness of this finish. Oil protects your timber by penetrative the upper pores and thus saturated they will hold out water for some time. This oil obviously also feeds the timber and over time will develop a beautiful patina that can not be artificially replicated.